Posted by: chuckbumgardner | January 17, 2010

Garrett, Systematic Theology, Part 1: Biographical Data

James Leo Garrett, Systematic Theology: Biblical, Historical, and Evangelical, 2 vols. (North Richland Hills, TX: BIBAL Press, 2000).

Biographical data:1

James Leo Garrett, Jr. was born in 1925 near Baylor University in Waco, Texas; his father later taught there in the School of Business.  He was converted and subsequently baptized into Seventh and James Baptist Church in 1935.  Ten years later, he was licensed and ordained by the First Baptist Church of Waco; in the same year, he graduated from Baylor with a major in English.  From Baylor, he became a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, pastoring three small Baptist churches while pursuing his seminary degree.  He also met his wife, Myrta Ann Latimer, while a student at Southwestern.  He finished the B.D. at Southwestern, earned a Th.M. at Princeton and a Th.D. at Southwestern, and eventually completed his Ph.D. at Harvard.  He has also studied at the Catholic University of America, the University of Oxford, St. John’s University, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Garrett began teaching theology at Southwestern in 1949, and continued there for ten years.  He moved from Southwestern to fill a gap left by the dismissal of several professors from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.  He remained at Southern for fourteen years, then returned to Baylor to oversee their program in church and state, and to be professor of religion.  Six years later, he returned to Southwestern as professor of theology, and later assumed the position of distinguished professor of theology emeritus.

Garrett has therefore taught and written about theology in a Baptist context for over fifty years, and has had a sizable influence upon Southern Baptists.  He has authored or edited at least a dozen volumes, and at one point was called the “most knowledgeable Baptist theologian living today.”2 His most recent volume is Baptist Theology: A Four-Century Study (Mercer University Press, 2009), but the following series of posts will examine his two-volume Systematic Theology.3


1Biographical data derived from Paul A. Basden, “James Leo Garrett” in Baptist Theology and Theologians (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2001); .

2Basden, 298.

3Garrett’s publisher shows that the third edition of the first volume of Garrett’s Systematic Theology was published in 2007 and is about 50 pages longer than the second edition. I am working with the second edition in this series of posts in that it is the set I own and both volumes are available.



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