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Ethelbert William Bullinger AKC (December 15, 1837June 6, 1913) was an Anglican clergyman, Biblical scholar, and ultradispensationalist theologian.

Life and work

He was born in Canterburymarker, Kentmarker, Englandmarker, the youngest of five children of William and Mary (Bent) Bullinger . His family traced their ancestry back to Heinrich Bullinger, the Swiss Reformer.

His formal theological training was at King's College Londonmarker from 1860-1861, earning an Associate's degree. After graduation, on October 15, 1861, he married Emma Dobson, thirteen years his senior.

Bullinger's career in the Church of England spanned 1861 until 1888. He began as associate curate in the parish of St. Mary Magdalene, Bermondseymarker in 1861, and was ordained as a priest in the Church of England in 1862. He served as parish curate in Tittleshallmarker from 1863-1866; Notting Hillmarker from 1866-1869; Leytonstonemarker, 1869-1870; then Walthamstowmarker until he became vicar of the newly established parish of St. Stephen's in 1874. He resigned his vicarage in 1888..

In the spring of 1867, Bullinger became clerical secretary of the Trinitarian Bible Society, a position he would hold till his death in 1913.

In the great Anglican debate of the Victorian era, he was a Low Churchman rather than High Church sacerdotalist.

His three major works were
  • A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament (1877) ISBN 0-8254-2096-2;
  • Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (1898) ISBN 0-8010-0559-0
  • primary editor of The Companion Bible (published in 6 parts, 1909-1922 ISBN 0-8254-2177-2. It was completed after his death by his associates.
These works and many others remain in print (2007).

In 1881, he received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Archibald Campbell Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury who cited Bullinger's "eminent service in the Church in the department of Biblical criticism."

Bullinger's friends included well-known Zionist Dr. Theodore Herzl. This was a personal friendship, but accorded with Bullinger's belief in a Biblical distinction between the Church and the Jewish People.

Trinitarian Bible Society

In 1867, at age 29, Bullinger accepted the office of clerical secretary of the Trinitarian Bible Society (TBS), an office which he exercised, with rare lapses due to illness in his later years, until his death. Accomplishments of TBS during his secretariat include:

Bullinger was also a practiced musician. As part of his support for the Breton Mission, he collected and harmonized several previously untranscribed Breton hymns on his visits to Tremel, Brittany.

Bullinger's TBS workload in his later years was reduced by the assistance of Henry Charles Bowker and Charles Welch. Their assistance enabled him to focus on The Companion Bible in his final years. Bullinger and Ginsburg parted ways, and another edition of Tanakh was published by the British and Foreign Bible Society.


Bullinger is the originator of Ultradispensationalism, at times referred to as Bullingerism.. Ultradispensationalism differs from dispensationalism with regard to the beginning of the church. Mainstream dispensationalists hold that the church began in Acts 2, while ultradispensationalists believe the church began at some point after Acts 2 (i.e., Acts 9-13 or after Acts 28). Bullinger's views included soul sleep, or the cessation of the soul between death and resurrection . While Bullinger did not express any views concerning the final state of the lost, many of his followers did hold to annihilationism. Bullinger was editor of a monthly journal Things to Come for 19 years, and contributed many articles.

Bullinger described dispensations as divine "administrations" or "arrangements" wherein God deals at distinct time periods and with distinct groups of people "on distinct principles, and the doctrine relating to each must be kept distinct." He emphasizes that "Nothing but confusion can arise from reading into one dispensation that which relates to another." {Companion Bible, } He listed seven dispensations in the Bible:

Dispensational Scheme of Bullinger
Edenic state of Innocence Period "without law" Period under the Law Period of Grace Epoch of Judgment Millennial Age The Eternal State of Glory
Genesis 1-3

ended with the expulsion from Eden
Genesis 4 to Exodus 19

ended with the flood and judgment on Babel
Exodus 20 to Acts 28

ended at the rejection by Israel of the grace of God

at the end of Acts
Church History

end at the Day of the Lord

end at the destruction of the Antichrist
Rev 20:4-6

end with the destruction of Satan
Rev 20-22 no end

See also

  • Harry A. Ironside — a dispensationalist who was a critic of ultra-dispensationalism.



External links

For more information on Bullinger's dispensationalism go here : E.W. Bullinger's "How to Enjoy the Bible - Rightly Dividing the Word as to its Times and Dispensations" and here : E.W. Bullinger's "How to Enjoy the Bible".

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