Rupp, Professor Ernest Gordon, FBA
1910-1986; e.m. 1934

Click to enlarge

Born in London on 7 January 1910. He worked in commerce and in a bank before reading History at King's College, London under Norman Sykes, with a view to become a teacher. He trained for the ministry at Wesley House, Cambridge 1933-1936, gaining a first class in theology; then spent a year as a Finch Scholar at Strasbourg and Basle. After eight years as minister at Chiselhurst and a year as President's Assistant to R.Newton Flew, he taught Church History at Richmond College 1947-1952 and in the Cambridge Divinity Faculty 1952-1956. He was awarded the DD (Cantab) in 1955 and in 1956 became the first Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Manchester University, where as Public Orator his proverbial wit and eloquence found full scope. He returned to Cambridge in 1967 as Principal of Wesley House and played an active part in forming the Cambridge Federation of Theological Colleges. The University appointed him Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Emmanuel College made him a Fellow. He was President of the Conference in 1968.

His Martin Luther, Hitler's Cause - or Cure? (1945) heralded the arrival of a distinguished Luther scholar. His later researches in that field were published in Luther's Progress to the Diet of Worms (1951) and The Righteousness of God (1953). His thesis for the Cambridge BD was published in 1947 as Studies in the Making of the English Protestant Tradition. In 1967 he gave the Peake Memorial Lecture on 'The Word and the Words. His last book was Religion in England 1688-1791 (1986). A committed ecumenist, he served on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, was an official observer at the Second Vatican Council and ardently supported the Anglican-Methodist Scheme of Unity. A collection of essays,on Christian Spirituality was published in1975. He died at Cambridge on 19 December 1986.


'E.G.R.'s many-sided achievements and interests effectively mirror his depth of character and pastoral genius… The generus forbearance and lively humour of the Dixie Professor both counter the tyranny of the trivial and guarantee the enduring respect of his many friends.'

Peter Brooks, Christian Spirituality (1975), p.6

'He was also an extraordinarily moving orator… The spoken word scintliiated with epigrams and wisecracks. His voice was husky, his stature diminutive, his delivery rapid. Underneath the fun he communicated a feeling for the marvellousness of ordinary things; a conviction that the search for God was a wild adventure and yet the most exacting quest known to man; a religious optimism abou the world and our times.

The Times, 22 December 1986

  • Oween Chadwick, 'The Historical Writitng of Professor Gordon Rupp' in The Drew Gateway, vol. 36, pp. 22-7
  • Conference Handbook, 1968
  • The Times, 22 December 1986
  • Methodist Recorder, 13 June 1968; 1 & 8 Jan 1987; 21 August 2008
  • A. Raymond George, in WHS Proceedings, 46 pp.19-20
  • John Munsey Turner, 'Gordon Rupp as Historian', in Epworth Review, January 1991, pp.70-82
  • Peter N. Brooks, in Proceedings of the British Academy, 80 pp.493-98
  • E.G. Rupp, Wisdom and Wit(Peterborough, 1994), pp.1-4
  • Oxford DNB