Who is William Barclay?
William Barclay (born 5 December 1907 in Wick, Scotland; died 24 January 1978 in Glasgow, Scotland) was a Scottish author, radio and television presenter, Church of Scotland minister, and Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Glasgow. He wrote a popular set of Bible commentaries on the New Testament that sold 1.5 million copies.
While professor, he decided to dedicate his life to “making the best biblical scholarship available to the average reader”. The eventual result was the Daily Study Bible, a set of 17 commentaries on the New Testament, published by Saint Andrew Press, the Church of Scotland’s publishing house. Despite the series name, these commentaries do not set a program of regular study. Rather, they go verse by verse through Barclay’s own translation of the New Testament, listing and examining every possible interpretation known to Barclay and providing all the background information he considered possibly relevant, all in layman’s terms. The commentaries were fully updated with the help of William Barclay’s son, Ronnie Barclay, in recent years and they are now known as the New Daily Study Bible series.
The 17 volumes of the set were all best-sellers and continue to be so to this day. A companion set giving a similar treatment to the Old Testament was endorsed but not written by Barclay. In 2008 Saint Andrew Press began taking the content of the New Daily Study Bibles and producing pocket-sized thematic titles called Insights. The Insights books are introduced by contemporary authors, broadcasters and scholars, including Nick Baines and Diane-Louise Jordan.
Barclay wrote many other popular books, always drawing on scholarship but written in a highly accessible style. In The Mind of Jesus (1960) he states that his aim was “to make the figure of Jesus more vividly alive, so that we may know him better and love him more”.