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Professor Edward Musgrave Blaiklock, OBE

Lecturer in NT Greek, 1927-1975
Board Member (1939-1964), Board Chair and President (1965-1975)

As a trainee teacher in 1921 Ted Blaiklock reluctantly agreed to accompany two friends to hear Rev. Joseph Kemp speak at the Baptist Tabernacle one Saturday evening. Reflecting on Kemp’s message overnight, the next day 17-year-old Blaiklock accepted that God was more than just an abstract intelligence behind creation and could be known personally in Jesus Christ. He committed his life to God in a simple prayer, and so entered into a faith which was the integrating centre of his varied life. [1] Kemp became his spiritual mentor and invited him to tutor students in Greek when Blaiklock became a lecturer in classics at Auckland University in 1927. When his lecture finished at the University at 10 am, Blaiklock would walk to the Institute, enjoying the conversation of J.O. Sanders and Joseph Kemp, and above all the students:

“In a world of crumbling and eroded standards it is gladness week by week to talk to fine boys and girls whose lives belong to Christ, who find their faith relevant to life, and still discover happiness and fulfilment in presenting their Lord to their generation.” [2]

Professor Blaiklock taught New Testament Greek to successive generations of students at NZBTI/BCNZ for over 40 years. In the College’s Jubilee year in 1972 he wrote: “It was in 1927 that I first tried to persuade the students that Greek was an easier language than most others they might be called upon to learn”. [3] Whether all his students were so persuaded is a matter for debate – but he did bring New Testament texts alive through the original language, drawing on his classical background, archaeological studies, and from many personal visits to biblical lands. His knowledge of the Gospel of John became so exhaustive that he could teach without notes.

Blaiklock was a Director of the Board of NZBTI for 25 years (1939-1964) and, following Robert Laidlaw’s retirement, served as President and Chair of the Board from 1965-1975 – supporting new Principal David Stewart in the early years of his leadership. In those 10 years Blaiklock instituted a “President’s Period”, giving a weekly expository devotional to the student body – beginning by working his way through the Psalms. He also frequently wrote editorials and articles for the College’s magazine, The Reaper. On his retirement as President, he was given the title “President Emeritus” in recognition of his long and distinguished contribution to the College. [4]

Blaiklock’s influence went far beyond the NZBTI community. Over a five-year period (1959-1963) he wrote the Daily Notes for Scripture Union, covering the whole Bible. These notes, and some of the lectures he gave at NZBTI, became the substance of books which enriched the whole church in NZ and beyond. He published over 70 books, mostly on Christian apologetics and Bible commentaries. He came to be regarded as a champion of evangelical Christian belief against liberal scholarship and doctrine. In 1968 he wrote Layman’s Answer in response to the liberal views of theologian Lloyd Geering over the resurrection of Jesus.

In his 41 years at Auckland University as lecturer, and later Chair of Classics (1947-1968), Professor Blaiklock was a leading mentor for Auckland Evangelical Union students operating in a secular and sometimes hostile environment. [5]

A weekly newspaper column brought him to the attention of a wider audience. Using the pen name “Grammaticus” Blaiklock wrote a column every week for 42 years – writing in an elegant style and covering a wide range of topics, from history to the environment, and literature to the annoyances of life in a modern city.

After his retirement from Auckland University in 1968 he continued to write and conducted tour parties to the biblical lands of Israel and Asia Minor. In 1974 he was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for “services to scholarship and the community”.

In their reflections on the life of E.M. Blaiklock, BCNZ Principal David Stewart and Registrar Les Rushbrook noted:

“Perhaps to many Professor Blaiklock may have seemed the austere, learned distant scholar somewhat removed from us lesser mortals. But underneath, those of us who knew him well, knew a very human, gentle, shy man, a man with a very simple faith in Jesus as his Lord, and in the Bible, the Word of God, as his guide.” [6]

He was a man who loved home and his family – Kathleen, his wife for 50 years, and their sons, Peter and David. When Kathleen died of a brain tumour in 1978, he was shattered – his deep grief revealed in his book simply entitled Kathleen. Blaiklock stayed active until his own death five years later – writing, preaching, leading three more tours, and teaching Bible studies. He died of cancer, at age 80, on 26 October 1983.

[1] Trevor Shaw, E.M. Blaiklock: A Christian Scholar (Hodder & Stoughton: London, 1986), p. 42

[2] “Decades of Students” article by Prof. E.M. Blaiklock in the Jubilee Issue of The Reaper, 1971, p. 362

[3] ibid, p. 361

[4] “Mr Valiant for the Truth: In memory of Prof. Blaiklock”, Reaper, Vol 65 No. 6 Dec/Jan 1983-84, p. 20-21

[5] Stuart M. Lange, A Rising Tide: Evangelical Christianity in New Zealand 1930-1965 (Otago University Press: Dunedin, 2013) p. 49

[6] “Mr Valiant for the Truth: In memory of Prof. Blaiklock”, Reaper, Vol 65 No. 6 Dec/Jan 1983-84, p. 21

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