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The Thomas F. Torrance Manuscript Collection

 Collection
Identifier: SCM 223

Scope and Content

This collection is arranged into the following eleven series:
  1. Torrance Family Papers,
  2. Personal Life,
  3. Selected Papers for the McGrath Biography,
  4. Writings-Published and Unpublished,
  5. Lectureships and Conferences,
  6. Church of Scotland Papers,
  7. Correspondence and Related Papers,
  8. Special Topics,
  9. Works by Others,
  10. Photographic Material, and
  11. Ephemera and Realia.
It is rich in primary source material on Thomas Torrance (1871-1959), and contains extensive material written by Thomas F. Torrance (1913-2007), along with vast amounts of his correspondence. The written material in this collection is augmented by the wonderful collection of photographic and ephemeral material that accompanies it.

Dates

  • 1893-2007

Language of Materials

English, German, French, Chinese, Hebrew, Greek

Access:

Material in this collection may be consulted without restriction, however photocopying of any material requires the permission of Iain R. Torrance.

Preferred Citation

The following is the acceptable citation for publication: The Thomas F. Torrance Manuscript Collection. Special Collections, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.

Chronology

  • 1913 August 30 Born in Chengdu, Szechwan, China. Eldest son of the Reverend Thomas T. and Annie E. Torrance
  • 1927 Moved to Lanarkshire, Scotland
  • 1931-1934 Studied Classics and Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, Arts Degree
  • 1934-1936 Graduate studies at the School of Divinity, New College. Won John Stuart Blackie Fellowship for studies in the Middle East.
  • 1937-1938 Studied with Karl Barth at the University of Basel in Switzerland
  • 1938-1939 Professor at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City, United States
  • 1939-1940 Dissertation. Oriel College, Oxford.
  • 1940 Ordained Minister
  • 1940-1943 Minister of Alyth Barony Parish, Perthshire, Scotland
  • 1943-1945 War Service as Army chaplain in the Middle East and with combat troops in Italy
  • 1944 Awarded Member of the British Empire (MBE)
  • 1945 Founded Scottish Church Theological Society
  • 1945-1947 Minister of Alyth Parish
  • 1946 Married Margaret Spear
  • 1947-1950 Minister of Beechgrove Church in Aberdeen, Scotland
  • 1948 Published Dissertation, The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers
  • 1948-1982 Founded and edited Scottish Journal of Theology with J.K.S. Reid
  • 1950-1952 Professor of Church History, University of Edinburgh
  • 1952 Co-founded Scottish Church Theological Society and the Society for the Study of Theology (UK)
  • 1952-1962 World Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission. Attended conference in Lund, Sweden in 1952, meetings in 1954 in Evanston, Illinois, Chicago, and Princeton, New Jersey.
  • 1952-1979 Professor of Christian Dogmatics, New College, University of Edinburgh
  • 1954-1962 Convener of the Church of Scotland Commission on Baptism
  • 1959 Hewett Lectures at Union Theological Seminary in New York and Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts
  • 1969 Collins Religious Book Award for Theological Science
  • 1969 Member, Academie Internationale des Sciences Religieuses
  • 1971 Taylor Lectures at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • 1972-1981 President, Academie Internationale des Sciences Religieuses
  • 1973 Named Protopresbyter of the Greek Orthodox Church by the Patriarch of Alexandria
  • 1976 Member, Academie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences
  • 1976-1977 Moderator of the Church of Scotland. Visited Orthodox Churches in Alexandria, Jerusalem and Constantinople
  • 1978 Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion
  • 1979 Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
  • 1979 Retired from New College, University of Edinburgh
  • 1979-1992 Theological dialogue between Orthodox and Reformed Churches
  • 1981 Annie Kinkead Warfield Lectures, on Theology of Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, Princeton Theological Seminary. Published as The Trinitarian Faith, 1988.
  • 1982 Payton Lectures at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California
  • 1982 Fellow of the British Academy
  • 1984 Published, The Meditation of Christ (revised edition published 1992)
  • 1984, 1986, 1994 Travels in Sichuan Province, China
  • 1990 Published, Karl Barth: Biblical and Evangelical Theologian
  • 1996 Published, The Christian Doctrine of God
  • 2002 Published, The Doctrine of Christ
  • 2007 December 2 Died, Edinburgh
1913 August 30
Born in Chengdu, Szechwan, China. Eldest son of the Reverend Thomas T. and Annie E. Torrance
1927
Moved to Lanarkshire, Scotland
1931-1934
Studied Classics and Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, Arts Degree
1934-1936
Graduate studies at the School of Divinity, New College. Won John Stuart Blackie Fellowship for studies in the Middle East.
1937-1938
Studied with Karl Barth at the University of Basel in Switzerland
1938-1939
Professor at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City, United States
1939-1940
Dissertation. Oriel College, Oxford.
1940
Ordained Minister
1940-1943
Minister of Alyth Barony Parish, Perthshire, Scotland
1943-1945
War Service as Army chaplain in the Middle East and with combat troops in Italy
1944
Awarded Member of the British Empire (MBE)
1945
Founded Scottish Church Theological Society
1945-1947
Minister of Alyth Parish
1946
Married Margaret Spear
1947-1950
Minister of Beechgrove Church in Aberdeen, Scotland
1948
Published Dissertation, The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers
1948-1982
Founded and edited Scottish Journal of Theology with J.K.S. Reid
1950-1952
Professor of Church History, University of Edinburgh
1952
Co-founded Scottish Church Theological Society and the Society for the Study of Theology (UK)
1952-1962
World Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission. Attended conference in Lund, Sweden in 1952, meetings in 1954 in Evanston, Illinois, Chicago, and Princeton, New Jersey.
1952-1979
Professor of Christian Dogmatics, New College, University of Edinburgh
1954-1962
Convener of the Church of Scotland Commission on Baptism
1959
Hewett Lectures at Union Theological Seminary in New York and Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts
1969
Collins Religious Book Award for Theological Science
1969
Member, Academie Internationale des Sciences Religieuses
1971
Taylor Lectures at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
1972-1981
President, Academie Internationale des Sciences Religieuses
1973
Named Protopresbyter of the Greek Orthodox Church by the Patriarch of Alexandria
1976
Member, Academie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences
1976-1977
Moderator of the Church of Scotland. Visited Orthodox Churches in Alexandria, Jerusalem and Constantinople
1978
Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion
1979
Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
1979
Retired from New College, University of Edinburgh
1979-1992
Theological dialogue between Orthodox and Reformed Churches
1981
Annie Kinkead Warfield Lectures, on Theology of Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, Princeton Theological Seminary. Published as The Trinitarian Faith, 1988.
1982
Payton Lectures at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California
1982
Fellow of the British Academy
1984
Published, The Meditation of Christ (revised edition published 1992)
1984, 1986, 1994
Travels in Sichuan Province, China
1990
Published, Karl Barth: Biblical and Evangelical Theologian
1996
Published, The Christian Doctrine of God
2002
Published, The Doctrine of Christ
2007 December 2
Died, Edinburgh

Biographical Information

Thomas Forsyth Torrance was one of the foremost Protestant theologians of the twentieth century. Beyond a core focus on Christ and the Trinity, his scholarship and interests included evangelism, mission work, ecumenism, and the relation of science and theology. He was also a strong proponent of the theology of Karl Barth, with whom he studied at the University of Basel.

He grew up as the child of missionaries who worked with the indigenous Chiang (Qiang) people in China. After completing his education and serving in the parish ministry, he taught theology at the University of Edinburgh from 1950 to 1979. He served as co-editor of the Scottish Journal of Theology for 27 years and as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. A prolific author, his works include books and articles reflecting his own thought, as well as translations of a substantial number of theological writings.

Son of Reverend Thomas and Mrs. Annie E. Torrance, he was married to Margaret, and had three children; daughter Alison and sons Thomas and Iain.

Extent

109.6 Linear Feet (229 boxes)

Arrangement

Series I: Torrance Family Papers: Boxes 1-9

This series includes published and unpublished writings, reports and travel logs, correspondence and biographical material on Thomas Torrance (1871-1959) and other family members.

Series II: Personal Life: Boxes 10-15

This series includes autobiographical writings of Thomas F. Torrance, family letters, and a collection of biographical material.

Series III: Selected Papers for McGrath Biography: Boxes 16-41

This series is comprised of files collected for the biography of Thomas F. Torrance, written by Alister McGrath. They have been left in their original order and identified by topic. Some of the material in this series is duplicated elsewhere in the collection. Topics in this series are as follows:

- Historical Theology, Early Lectures

- Collection of material by and about Iain Richard Torrance

- War service letters and related documents

- Collection of Karl Barth material (correspondence with Karl Barth and his family, works by or about Karl Barth, and other material related to Barth)

- Collection of early lectures-Dogmatics

- Auburn lectures, 1938-1939 (2 boxes)

- General theology lectures: Revelation, the Word of God, Doctrine of God, Introduction to Christology and Soteriology [Auburn Lectures, New College Lectures and other documents]

- Main Lectures [at New College] - Christian Dogmatics: The Church, Ministry, Sacraments [with other documents]

- Lectures on Christology: Biblical, Patristic, Reformed

- Main Lectures [at New College]-Christian Dogmatics: Doctrine of Christ [original typescripts]

- Main Lectures [at New College]- Christian Dogmatics: Doctrine of Salvation, Redemption, Atonement, Justification, Reconciliation, and Resurrection [typescript and manuscript]

- Lectures on Soteriology

- Lectures on Ecclesiology

- Lectures on Hermeneutics (6 boxes)

- Material collected for a proposed third volume of Conflict and Agreement in the Church

- Hugh Ross Mackintosh, Lecture Summaries and class notes by Thomas F. Torrance, 1935-1936

- Sermons, Lectures and Addresses, in Scotland and Abroad (4 boxes)

Series IV: Writings, Published and Unpublished: Boxes 42-75

This series is arranged into six subseries: Sermons, Lectures at New College, University of Edinburgh, Handwritten and Typescript Documents, Drafts of Published Works, Festschriften, and Published Writings, 1941-1997. The collection of sermons was arranged in Biblical order by Thomas F. Torrance. New College lectures were arranged according to outlines prepared by Thomas F. Torrance. The collection of handwritten and typescript writings were arranged alphabetically by discernable title and the collection of Festschriften is alphabetical by the celebrated individual's last name. Drafts of published works were arranged alphabetically by title, and often the published work itself was consulted to aid in the identification of these papers. The collection of published writings is arranged in chronological order.

Series V: Lectureships and Conferences: Boxes 76-84

This series includes original drafts of lectures and addresses by Thomas F. Torrance, along with related papers and correspondence from many lectureships and conferences. Notable files include the Harris Lectures (1970), the Maxwell Cummings Lecture (1978), The Richards Lectures (1978), the Annie Kinkead Warfield Lectures (1981), international consultations on theology and science cosponsored by the Center of Theological Inquiry and the Templeton Foundation (1988), and papers related to Mission Scotland 1991 led by Billy Graham in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow. This series is arranged in chronological order.

Series VI: Church of Scotland Papers: Boxes 85-101

This series is arranged into two subseries. The first, Church Affairs, is arranged alphabetically by committee or topic. Committees include the Inter-Church Relations Committee, the Overseas Council, and Committee on Church and Israel, and others. A significant portion of this subseries is comprised of papers from the Church of Scotland Special Commission on Baptism. Thomas F. Torrance served as Convener of the Commission from 1955 to 1962. He drafted most of the material for the reports to the General Assembly. This Commission was responsible for issuing The Biblical Doctrine of Baptism: A Study Document, published in 1958.

The second subseries, Moderatorial Papers, is comprised of material from Thomas F. Torrance's appointment as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. It includes correspondence, material related to Moderatorial visits, sermons, speeches, and other writings. This subseries is arranged in chronological order, spanning from 1974 to 1977.

Series VII: Correspondence and Related Papers: Boxes 102-158

This series is arranged into three subseries: Individuals A-Z, Organizations A-Z, and General Chronological. Major academic societies and institutions represented in this series include, the Academie Internationale des Sciences Religieuses, the British Academy, Deutsches Institut fur Bildung und Wissen, Center of Theological Inquiry, Handsel Press Limited, the John Templeton Foundation, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and Scottish Journal of Theology Limited. Correspondence files often contain related material such as writings by the correspondent, minutes of meetings of a given organization, or information for review.

Series VIII: Special Topics: Boxes 159-178

This series is arranged into seven subseries. The first, China and the Church in China, includes correspondence with individuals in China, and correspondence about China. Topics of correspondence include trips by Thomas F. Torrance to China, researching Jews, China and history, and the presence of the Holy Bible in China.

The second subseries includes papers relating to Michael Polanyi (1891-1976), for whom Thomas F. Torrance was the literary executor during the lifetime of his wife Magda. This subseries includes correspondence with Michael and Magda Polanyi and others, Polanyi Society meeting information and newsletters, papers by and about Michael Polanyi, and conferences on Michael Polanyi.

The third subseries includes papers of the Order of Christian Unity (Scottish Branch), for which Thomas F. Torrance was Inter-Church Consultant; and the Scottish Order of Christian Unity, for which he was President. This subseries includes correspondence, minutes, agendas, newsletters, and various papers relating to the mission of the Order- being teaching in family life, education, the media, and medical ethics.

The fourth subseries includes papers relating to the dialogue between the Greek Orthodox Church and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, which began in 1977. This subseries includes correspondence and papers, including drafts of Theological Dialogue between Orthodox and Reformed Churches, edited by Thomas F. Torrance.

The fifth subseries consists of a collection of material related to science and theology. It is organized by individual and by topic.

The sixth subseries is comprised of World Council of Churches papers. Thomas F. Torrance served on the Faith and Order Commission from 1952-1962.

The seventh and final subseries contains miscellaneous papers; including correspondence related to sales of Thomas F. Torrance's personal library, curricula vitae for various individuals, and other unorganized miscellanea.

Series IX: Works by Others: Boxes 179-199

This series is arranged alphabetically by the author's last name, where it could be determined. This series includes many dissertations and manuscript works by various scholars. It also includes a small set of reviews of works by Thomas F. Torrance.

Series X: Photographic Material: Boxes 200-208

The photographic materials in this series provide a full visual retrospective of the life of Thomas F. Torrance, as well as the life of his father Thomas Torrance, missionary in Chengdu, Sichuan, China.

The collection beautifully chronicles Thomas Torrance's service in China, along with the landscapes, architecture and people of the Sichuan Province. The travels of Thomas F. Torrance throughout his studies and service as army chaplain the Middle East and later Italy, as well as his travels back to Chengdu in the 1980s and 1990s, are particularly well documented and preserved.

Albums in this collection have been maintained as they were originally constructed. The majority of the photographs in the collection are identified within the albums, and the loose photographs arranged separately are mostly duplicates of the identified sets in the albums. Loose photographs were gathered from a number of enclosures, and were arranged by topic by the processor. The bulk of the loose photographs are undated and not labeled, therefore it is suggested that researchers refer to the albums for identification.

Series XI: Ephemera and Realia: Boxes 209-229

This series includes newspapers and clippings collected by Thomas F. Torrance, which have been arranged chronologically by decade. Ephemera include certificates of honor, diplomas, personal belongings, and computer files and audio cassette recordings. Realia includes Thomas F. Torrance's many medals of distinction (including his Templeton Prize), various souvenirs, and other three-dimensional museum objects. Listed in this series are the furniture pieces from Thomas F. Torrance's study in Scotland, which were donated along with the rest of the collection.

Processing Information:

The material in this collection was donated to the Seminary Libraries by the Very Reverend Thomas F. Torrance and his family in several installments, the first of which was received in 1990. Those materials, primarily published works by Thomas F. Torrance, were organized in the spring of 1992 by David M. Whitford under the direction of William O. Harris, Archivist. Additional material was added to the collection and organized by Raymond D. Cannata in June of 1997.

The bulk of this collection was retrieved from Thomas F. Torrance's office in Scotland in 2006 under the direction of Robert Benedetto, Director of Special Collections. Clifford Anderson, Donna Potts and Darren Kennedy acquired 78 boxes of papers, his personal library, furniture and other personal belongings from the Torrance family home in Edinburgh.

Additional material was delivered to Special Collections by Dr. Iain R. Torrance, President of Princeton Seminary, from 2005 to 2009. That additional material, along with the collection of realia, was inventoried by Matthew Reeder.

The collection and the library were officially donated to Princeton Seminary in 2008. The processing of this collection was made possible by a grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. Sarah Seraphin, Manuscript Librarian, supervised the processing of the collection under the direction of Clifford B. Anderson, Curator of Special Collections.

Sarah Seraphin was assisted in the work of processing by Melissa John in the fall of 2008, and by Michelle Malone in 2009. With the assistance of Bob Golon, Project Archivist, the collection was reviewed and arranged into series in late 2009. The biographical note and chronology for the formal finding aid were drafted by Betsy Phillips. Princeton Seminary students Kristen Nivling, Daved Anthony Schmidt and Kate Moore also assisted with this project.

The finding aid was written by Sarah Seraphin in January 2010.
Title
The Thomas F. Torrance Manuscript Collection
Status
Completed
Author
Sarah A. Seraphin
Date
2010
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Revision Statements

  • December 20, 2016: EAD finding aids for collections processed and encoded before 2015 were revised slightly and imported into ArchivesSpace in 2016.

Repository Details

Part of the Princeton Theological Seminary. Library. Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Princeton Theological Seminary
Library
PO Box 821
Princeton NJ 08542 USA