The Englishman, Thomas Newberry (1811-1901) could thank God for a
mother and older sister who were both spiritually atuned and able to
communicate the gospel clearly. Through their consistent Christian
testimony, he was tutored in the holy Scriptures from childhood. At an
early age he was born again by the incorruptible Word of God, which
lives and abides forever (1 Pet. 1:23). So from start to finish his
Christian life was characterized by respect and love for the Scripture.
About Newberry we could say, God's words were found, and he ate them,
and God's Word was to him the joy and rejoicing of his heart (Jer.
He was a hearty soul, but the fire burned under the surface.
Throughout his long and active life, he was a man recognized as being
"mighty in the Scriptures." (Acts 18:24) In an era of explosive church growth,
colored by flamboyant and eccentric evangelists, Newberry was a steady,
reliable, and profitable expositor of the Bible.
He had always been a regular reader of the Word of God, until his
twenty-ninth year. Before then, he read the Bible for comfort and
direction. But in 1840 he determined to read the Scriptures in the
original Hebrew and Greek.
We know almost nothing of his family life, financial circumstances,
or when he came into assembly fellowship in the English coastal city of
Weston-super-Mare. What we do know is that it was diligent Scripture
study that led Newberry to link up with the assembly that met in a
small hall on Meadow Street in the early 1860s. Like so many other
Bible students, he came to see that the common ecclesiastical set-up
was not in harmony with the Word of God. His complaint with the
surrounding congregations was that "many of the customs were based upon
expediency rather than conformity to 'the law and the testimony' (Isa.
8:20); that principles and practices (which were plainly recorded in
the Epistle to the Corinthians and other Scriptures) as characteristic
of the churches of God as founded by the apostles, after the Divine
pattern given to Paul ('the wise masterbuilder', 1 Corinthians 3:10), were not being
observed, although 1 Corinthians 1:1-2 said they were binding upon 'all
that in every place call upon the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.'"
(Chief Men Among the Brethren).
The conclusion forced on Newberry was that he was not able to
preach, teach, and practice all that he found in God's Word as long as
he tried to work within the ecclesiastical machinery of the day. The
Word of God was being violated and/or ignored at too many points,
compelling him to seek out a group of believers who would keep the
ordinances of the Lord as they were "delivered" (see 1 Cor. 11:2).
Those were days of evangelistic reaping. There certainly was clamor
and excitement enough to keep an army of Christians busy from dawn to
dusk. When ten different needs are all tugging at your time, you need
to know what your mission is, and hold to your course. Evidently
Newberry knew how to secure large blocks of solitude, and to use that
time efficiently. He did just that.
In 1863, friends in London gave him a copy of Tischendorf's
transcription of the New Testament according to the Codex Sinaiticus.
Meticulously, he neatly handwrote his notes throughout the edition. Two
years later, he commenced what would be the best memorial of his
vigorous life. As the editor of The Englishman's Bible (since his
passing, it is known as The Newberry Study Bible), he produced a
monumental study aid that stands alongside G. V. Wigram's Englishman's
Concordances to the Greek and Hebrew, and W. E. Vine's Expository
Dictionary of New Testament Words.
In 1866, a tall, forceful nobleman (some might say domineering)
named Granville Waldegrave (Lord Radstock) came to Weston-super-Mare
for evangelistic meetings on the invitation of the Earl of Cavan. A
German educator by the name of Dr. Frederick Baedeker attended one of
these meetings. One night as Baedeker was slipping out of the
auditorium, Waldegrave laid his hand on his shoulder and said, "My man,
God has a message through me for you tonight."
Baedeker followed the evangelist into the anteroom and Baedeker's
biographer writes, "In presence of the crowd he did so, and the two
were soon on their knees. During those solemn moments, a work was done
in Dr. Baedeker whereby the accumulated infidelity of years was
dissipated forever. God was acknowledged, the Saviour trusted, and the
joy of salvation soon filled his soul. The experience of that memorable
night would be by himself thus tersely expressed: 'I went in a proud
German infidel, and came out a humble, believing disciple of the Lord
Jesus Christ. Praise God!'"
Who were the men who mentored the new believer? There in his home
assembly, he would weekly benefit from the thorough, serious exposition
of Thomas Newberry. Weston-super-Mare is not far from Bristol, where
another German lived and labored. That man, George Muller, soon made
contact with Frederick Baedeker. Here was an ideal combination:
Waldegrave's evangelistic abandon, Muller's prayer life, and Thomas
Newberry's deep Bible teaching. Under these influences, Baedeker made
long strides in his Christian life. Already by 1874 Baedeker was
translating for Lord Radstock as he preached in Europe. Thereafter
Baedeker made missionary trips into Germany, and from there into
Russia, where he carried on an extensive, fruitful, and far-flung
Content to stay in the shadows of anonymity while others blazed on
in their missionary exploits, Newberry quietly pursued his calling.
Locally his ministry nourished the now flourishing Weston-super-Mare
assembly, and neighboring meetings. He was not a brother who whiled
away his time wondering what his spiritual gift was, or gadded about to
a conference here and a seminar there to hear symposiums on "How to
Discover the Will of God for Your Life." He had a definite sense of
God's hand on him.
Under Newberry's carefully editing, the new study Bible was taking
shape. Using special markings to indicate features in the original
languages which did not show in English, he was making a way to help
English readers understand the precious treasures God has given in His
The Englishman's Bible was published in five or six editions between
the late 1870s and 1902. On the title page on one of the earliest
editions of the Old Testament we read, "The Englishman's Hebrew Bible,
Shewing the Urim and Thummim, the Lights and Perfections of the
Inspired Original on the Page of the Authorized Version, a Fac-simile
of the Hebrew Scriptures in English."
Newberry's study Bible has been issued in three sizes: Library or
bold type; Portable, or middle size; and Pocket size. Today the
portable Newberry is published by Kregel publications, and John Ritchie
publishes the pocket-size. The Newberry is prized by Bible students.
There is a learning curve to overcome, but once ordinary readers know
Newberry's markings and notations, it will become one of the best helps
to enable ordinary readers to delve into, and wonder at the beauties of
the Scripture in the original languages.
In the February 1889 issue of The Bible Treasury, William Kelly
included this review of Newberry's Companion to the Englishman's Bible:
"This slender quarto consists of eleven chapters, meant to illustrate
and explain the value of his Englishman's Hebrew O.T., and Greek N.T.,
as far as can be for those who do not know the original tongues. The
reader will find in the work not a few profitable hints conveyed in a
clear and compact manner. Mr. N. is not a little attached to the Text.
Rec. and the A.V., and indisposed to go with the Revisers in their
admiration of their own work."
Scholars such as F. F. Bruce admired Newberry's immense labors:
"Newberry had no axe to grind. He was a careful and completely
unpretentious student of Hebrew and Greek texts, whose one aim was to
make the fruit of his study available as far as possible to Bible
students whose only language was English. His procedure tended to make
the Biblical text self-explanatory as far as possible; he had no
thought of imposing on it an interpretive scheme of his own."
In his final years, thousands profited by Newberry's lectures on the
tabernacle and Solomon's temple. He designed a fine model of the
temple. Those who saw it said it was "quite unique in its design and
He ministered the Word alongside Robert Chapman, Henry Dyer, and
George Muller, expounding the Scriptures around the British Isles,
contributed Bible teaching articles to The Witness and other magazines,
and conducted an extensive correspondence with Bible students across
the world. Frederick Tatford tells us that Newberry was used by God in
establishing an assembly in Nice, France, among many Italian-speaking
residents in 1895.
Fresh and alert for God right to the end, he lived long enough to
prove the words of the Psalmist, "They shall still bear fruit in old
age; they shall be fat [fresh] and flourishing." He went to be with
Christ from Weston-super-Mare on January 16, 1901.
Near the end, he wrote: "As the result of a careful examination of
the entire Scriptures in the originals, noticing and marking where
necessary every variation of tense, preposition, and the signification
of words, the impression left upon my mind is this: not the difficulty
of believing the entire inspiration of the Bible, but the impossibility
of doubting it....The godliness of the translators, their reverence,
the superiority of their scholarship, and the manifest assistance and
control afforded to them by the Holy Spirit in their work, is such that
the ordinary reader can rely upon the whole as the Word of God."
Books written by Thomas Newberry
Notes on the Temple
Notes on the Tabernacle
Outlines of the Revelation
Solar Light as Illustrating Trinity in Unity
The Expected One
The Parables of Our Lord
The Perfections and Excellencies of Scripture
The Song of Solomon
The Temples of Solomon and Ezekiel
Types of the Levitical Offerings
Materials for this Article are taken from:
The Bible Collector Jan.-Mar. 1966, No. 5
Hy. Pickering, Chief Men Among the Brethren, Loizeaux
David J. Beattie, Brethren, the Story of a Great Recovery, Ritchie
F. F. Bruce, The English Bible, Oxford