John A. Broadus, an original faculty member, and the second President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes a warm and thorough account of the life and ministry of his good friend, and the first President of Southern Seminary, James Petigru Boyce. Published in 1893, Broadus”™s biography is an excellent illustration of life in antebellum and post-Civil War America.
The first third of the book is devoted to the early life and education of Boyce. It is an excellent review of the providential circumstances that prepared Boyce to be a scholar and one devoted to training others in biblical scholarship and pastoral ministry. The majority of the book, however, is devoted more to a history of the founding and early days of Southern Seminary, emphasizing Boyce”™s critical life investment.
Boyce is pictured as an avid reader, intense in increasing his knowledge throughout his entire life. From boyhood to the end of his life, Broadus depicts Boyce”™s thirst to grow. He is also shown to be a icon of perseverance, as Broadus describes Boyce”™s unflagging commitment to start and sustain Southern Seminary despite the enormous set backs from the civil war which included divesting Boyce of much of his personal wealth. Even to his last days, Boyce was immersed in promoting and securing the seminary”™s future. It is a fascinating and convicting look into a life of focus, discipline, and perseverance.
Broadus”™ book is also an excellent look into how Southern Baptists, like Boyce, functioned during the tumultuous days of America”™s Civil War. Language depicting Southern views of black Americans and the institution of slavery seems raw to our more modern ears, but is a genuine reflection of the times.
If you are interested in the history of The Southern Baptist Convention”™s first theological institution, and want an illustration of the times in which it was founded, and an example of the sort of men that immersed their life for its cause, Broadus”™ biography of Boyce is where you should most likely begin.