Broadus, John Albert. Memoir of James Petigru Boyce. A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1893.
James Boyce is a significant figure in American Baptist life. He recognized the importance of an educated Baptist ministry, and he devoted his life to seeing a Baptist seminary founded in the most adverse of circumstances. John Broadus, a close friend and co-laborer with Boyce in this work, is in many ways an ideal biographer.
In addition to telling the life of the man, Broadus also does an excellent job describing the school he gave himself to founding. For instance, there is a fascinating chapter that explains how the curriculum of Southern Seminary was set up so that students with limited education and students with college degrees and knowledge of the languages could learn together effectively. There are insights here that could well be applied to small seminaries around the world that face similar situations.
As a resident of Greenville, SC, the first location of Southern Seminary, I found additional interest in Boradus’s descriptions of the falls on the Reedy River, Paris Mountain, and other Greenville landmarks. Also interesting were his remarks on church life in the Greenville area. Greenville and its environs have long been blessed with many faithful gospel ministries. This is a heritage to cherish and perpetuate.
Nettles, Thomas J. James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2009.
Thomas Nettles’s biography at times reads more like a nineteenth century biography than Broadus’s. It is overloaded at times with details that could have better summarized into key points. In general I preferred Broadus’s biography to Nettles. That said, Nettles gives an excellent account of the case of C. H. Toy. Broadus touched on the issue but did not delve into it. Since there are so many similarities in Toy’s move toward liberalism and some segments of left-leaning evangelicalism, that section is valuable. Nettles also gives a very helpful overview of Boyce’s theology that is lacking in Bros adus’s Memoir. I’m glad I read both books, but if I were to read only one book on Boyce, it would be Broadus’s.