By Glenn R. Goss, Th. D. Retired Professor of Bible, Philadelphia
"Reference Bibles," now generally called "Study Bibles" were rare
in 1910. There are four published by that date that are still in
print, The Newberry Reference Bible (1893), The Thompson Chain-
Reference Bible (1908), The Scofield Reference Bible (1909), and The
Companion Bible (1910). Oxford University Press released The
Scofield Reference Bible in January, 1909, it was revised by
Scofield and his team of consultants as the New and Improved Edition
in 1917, and again in 1967 by a team appointed by Oxford University
Press. Through the rest of the 20th century, over 100 more have left
the presses, the majority of them in the last third of the century.
Now, over 90 years later, the 1909 edition is published by
Barbour Publishing, Inc. as The King James Study Bible, Reference
Edition, and also by World Publishers as The First Scofield Study
Bible. The 1917 edition is still being printed by Oxford University
Press, titled The Old Scofield Study Bible, and also by the
Christian Heritage Publishing Company, titled as The Holy Bible,
1917 Scofield Reference Edition. The 1967 edition, published by
Oxford, is titled The New Scofield Study Bible (KJV) and The NIV
Scofield Study Bible. The first million copies were printed by 1930,
and the second million by the early 1940's. A recently published
article on the Scofield Bible noted that Oxford University Press has
published tens of millions of copies of the Scofield. And, the
Scofield is now printed in at least seven languages other than
Cyrus Ingerson Scofield was born in Michigan in 1843. When the
Civil war began, he was in Tennessee with his sister. While there,
he enlisted in the Confederate army. Military records show he fought
in the Confederate Army for over a year in 1861-1862, then was
discharged by reason of not being a citizen of the Confederate
States, but an alien friend. Scofield told his biographer Charles
Trumbull that he served through the war, and that he was awarded the
Confederate Cross of Honor. After the war, Scofield located in St.
Louis, married, and had a family of two daughters and a son. His
wife was from a French Catholic family, and she and her daughters
remained in that church till their deaths. His son died as a young
boy. He worked in the law firm of his brother-in-law, read and
studied to be admitted to the bar. In 1869 he and his family moved
to Kansas, where he was admitted to the bar to practice law. He was
elected twice to the Kansas legislature, in 1871 and in 1872.
President Grant appointed him as the United States District Attorney
of Kansas June 9, 1873. He resigned December 20, 1873, amid charges
of political corruption. That ended Scofield's political career.
He probably moved his family back to St. Louis, for his son Guy
died in December, 1874, and was buried in St. Louis. Also, an
obituary of Mrs. Leontine Cere Scofield (copy from a newspaper but
without name of paper or date) notes, "Returning to St. Louis, Mrs.
Scofield came again to Atchison in 1879 and spent the remainder of
her 88 years here." But by 1879 Scofield's life had deteriorated to
the extent that he drank heavily and was involved in several
questionable court cases. Mrs. Scofield filed for divorce in 1881,
but that case was dismissed. A second filing of the case resulted in
a divorce decree in 1883. These and other legal actions involving
Scofield, and several notations in city directories, provide some of
the only evidence about him during the time from 1873 to 1879.
A published account of Scofield's life in can be found in The
Life Story of C. I. Scofield by Charles Gallaudet Trumbull,
published by Oxford University Press in 1920 (a reprint of this very
complimentary biography is now published by the Christian Book
Gallery, St. John, IN.). An unpublished Mast er Thesis, "A
Biographical Sketch of C. I. Scofield" was written by William A.
BeVier at Southern Methodist University in 1960. This work includes
more research, but is not complete, though it is positive concerning
Scofield's work and ministry. Joseph M. Canfield wrote and published
The Incredible Scofield and His Book in 1988. This book is very
critical of both Scofield's theology and personal life. Due to the
lack of existing records, and the lack of information in records
that do exist, both BeVier's and Canfield's works must make many
assumptions as they write. Most of Trumbull 's information came
directly from Scofield himself. But even Trumbull passes over the
period of 1873 to 1879 with nothing more than a reference to
Scofield's habit of drinking. The best short article on Scofield,
and the most accurate, is "Scofield, Cyrus Ingerson" by Dr. John
Hannah in American National Biography, New York: Oxford University
Press, 1999, Vol. 19, pp. 480-481. Though the life of Scofield is
peppered with times when little or no information is available, one
thing is clear. A change was needed in Scofield's life. Canfield,
BeVier and Trumbull agree that Scofield experienced a "conversion."
Canfield questions if it was real. But all recognized that Scofield
needed a change in his life. And, God had prepared a man to meet
Enter Thomas McPheeters, a Christian businessman who knew and
served the Lord. He bluntly asked Scofield one day in September,
1879, why he was not a Christian. The following discussion brought
conviction, repentance, and a change of heart. Scofield was born
again! He began to learn about, live for, and serve his new-found
Lord. He lost his desire for alcohol completely. Also, he spent much
time with Dr. James H. Brooks, a prominent pastor and Bible teacher
in St. Louis. He served the YMCA, joined the Pilgrim Congregational
Church, and was licensed to preach by the Congregational churches of
In 1882 Scofield was asked to move to Dallas, Texas, and take
charge of a struggling Congregational mission church that had twelve
members. After some time, he consented, and arrived in Dallas
Saturday, August 19. He preached morning and evening the next day.
That evening two of them accepted Scofield's invitation to believe
in Christ as Savior. He began cottage prayer meetings, led the
church to adopt a constitution and bylaws, and was called as the
full time pastor and ordained in 1883. He married Miss Hettie Hall
Wartz in 1884, and the church sent Miss Eva Smith, its first
missionary, to India in 1885. The Scofields' only child, Noel Paul,
was born December 22, 1888. In 1889 a new building was begun at
Bryan and Harwood, to seat 600. A mission church later called Grand
Avenue Congregational church, was begun in South Dallas in 1890.
Scofield led a group to start the Central American Mission (now CAM
International) that same year. Church membership was noted as 355 in
1892, 550 in 1894, and 812 in 1896.
In 1896 Scofield accepted a call to pastor the Trinitarian
Congregational Church in Northfield, Massachusetts, D. L. Moody's
home church. He remained there until 1902 when he returned to Dallas
hoping for more free time to work on the Reference Bible. In 1908,
the church withdrew from the Lone Star Congregational Association,
and in 1909, following his resignation as pastor, Scofield was
appointed Pastor Emeritus. The church name was changed in 1923, two
years after Scofield's death, when the congregation approved a
change of name to Scofield Memorial Church.
The Reference Bible was not his first work. Rightly Dividing the
Word of Truth was published in 1888. In 1890 came the Scofield
Correspondence Course, which in 1914 was turned over to Moody Bible
Institute. (As of 1998, over 100,000 students have been enrolled in
Scofield had been thinking about a project like the Reference
Bible, and the plans came to light in 1901 at a summer Bible
conference in which Scofield and A. C. Gaebelein were ministering.
Scofield told Gaebelein his plans, but noted that financial backing
was the main drawback. The next year at the conference Gaebelein
sought and gained sufficient support for Scofield to move ahead with
his plan, and Scofield returned to his pastorate in Dallas with the
desire to begin. The Reference Bible could not be too bulky, but it
had to include the tools to Bible study along with a clear summary
of the Bible so that it would meet the need of someone who was just
beginning to read the Bible. He determined to find and state exactly
what the Bible itself had to say and not to add philosophical or
denominational distinctions. This would provide a wider acceptance
Scofield planned to trace key subjects and teachings through the
Bible with chain references. Each Bible book was to have a simple,
clear introduction. Adding paragraph headings was suggested by Dr.
R. A. Torrey. From his experience in teaching the Bible in both oral
and written form, he desired to include helps where readers might
have questions, though constantly refusing to allow the notes to
become commentary on the text.
Scofield and his wife went abroad several times to work on the
notes for the Bible. In England he visited his friend Mr. Robert
Scott of Morgan and Scott, publishers of religious books. When Scott
learned of Scofield's project, he introduced Scofield to Henry
Frowde, the head of Oxford
University Press. Trumbull notes that Frowde was very interested
and positive about publishing the Reference Bible. While in Europe,
wide-margin notebooks were prepared, each large page having a page
from the Bible pasted in the center. On these pages the Reference
Bible took shape.
The Scofields' study trips took them to Oxford, England, where
time was spent at Oxford University conferring with other scholars
and continuing the work on the notes and references. They also spent
time in Montreux, Switzerland, and in Michigan and New Hampshire
continuing the work. By 1908 the Scofields were in New York City,
proofreading the printer's proofs. Publication followed in early
An original 1909 copy is very difficult to find today. However,
there are at least three different printings of the 1909 that can be
identified. In 1986 the Barbour Company reprinted the 1909 edition.
As far as can be determined, it is a copy of the first printing. The
two later printings of the 1909 contain corrections and other
changes. Evangelical Word (Wheaton) also published in 1987 a
translation of the 1909 notes in a Russian Bible. As of 1993, nearly
half a million of these had been printed for distribution in Russia.
The "New and Improved Edition" was published in 1917. This
edition, completely reset with a more readable type face included
dates at the top of the center column, and comments in the book
introductions as to the time of events, according to Ussher. A
number of corrections and additions were made to the notes and
references, and Arabic numbers were used in place of Roman numerals
in the cross references. The New Testament with Psalms was released
in 1920. This edition, and the Bibles published after 1920 carry the
name of William A. Pettingill as the eighth consulting editor. Sale
of the Scofield Reference Bible grew, and by 1930 it became the
first book published by Oxford University Press to attain the one
million mark in sales. Oxford renewed the copyright in 1937 and
1945, and then dropped the description, "New and Improved Edition,"
though it was brought back in later and current copies printed.
About 1990 the name was changed to The Scofield Study Bible, and
later in the 1990's to The Old Scofield Study Bible to distinguish
it from The New Scofield Study Bible which was published in 1967.
The 1917 edition of the Scofield Bible was published in Spanish in
1987, a Swahili edition was released in 1993 (NT) and 1994 (whole
Bible), and a bi-lingual edition with both the text and the notes in
Spanish and English in 1996. In 1994 Christian Heritage Publishing
Co., Inc., reprinted the English 1917 edition for distribution.
Several editions (1909, 1917, or both) include other helps
besides the Scofield annotations. Dr. Torrey's helps on Bible Study
were printed is some Scofield Reference Bibles. Also, a cyclopedic
concordance of 300 pages was included in some Scofield Reference
Bibles. A loose leaf edition was released, as was a centenary
edition in 1937 on the anniversary of the birth of D. L. Moody. Wide
margin Bibles and volumes of different size and binding were
released as well.
After nearly forty years, the "New and Improved Edition" was
ready for revision. In 1954 Oxford University Press chose E.
Schuyler English, who had already edited The Pilgrim Bible, a
student Bible based on The Scofield Reference Bible, to serve as
chair of a revision committee. The committee included William
Culbertson, Charles Feinberg, Frank E. Gaebelein, Allan MacRae,
Clarence E. Mason, Jr., Alva J. McClain, Wilbur M. Smith, and John
F. Walvoord. The revision, called The New Scofield Reference Bible,
was published in 1967. The King James Version (Authorized Text) was
used for the text, though word changes were included in the text
that would help the reader. Archaic words, words whose meaning had
changed, and some pronouns were replaced. Introductions to the books
were brought up to date, and over 700 new footnotes and over 15,000
more cross references were added. The new and the revised footnotes
held to Scofield's original system of doctrine and the plan was
continued that these notes should not be commentary on the text, but
helps where readers had questions. About 1990 the name was changed
to The New Scofield Study Bible.
The most recent edition (1998) of The New Scofield Study Bible (KJV)
has deleted the word changes found in The New Scofield Reference
Bible of 1967. Instead, the original ("Genuine") King James words
are inserted in the text, with the 1967 changes placed in the
margin. The spine of the hardback edition notes clearly, "Genuine
KJV." Also, cross references in the Old Testament have been greatly
increased. In-text maps, new format of the text, a new set of
full-color maps, an index of proper names, and easier reading type
face have also been added. Copies with these features are called
"Readers Edition." The 1998 NIV edition also enjoys the new format
and the other added features.
As contemporary versions of the English Bible gained popularity,
the Scofield material was adapted to three of these versions. First
came The Oxford NIV Scofield Study Bible (later called The New
Scofield Study Bible NIV, now The NIV Scofield Study Bible) in 1984.
Three faculty from Philadelphia Biblical University (a school
founded by W.W. Rugh and C. I. Scofield) were consultants in the
process of adaptation: Clarence E. Mason, Jr. (a member of the
Editorial Revision Committee for the 1967 edition), W. Sherrill
Babb, President, and Paul S. Karleen, Chair of the Division of
The second adaptation was The New Scofield Study Bible NAS in
1988. Paul S. Karleen and Glenn R. Goss, Professor of Bible at
Philadelphia College of Bible, served as consultants. This adaption
was published by Word Publishers, but is out of print now. The third
adaptation was The New Scofield Study Bible NKJV , published by
Nelson in 1989, with 125,000 copies. Arthur L. Farstad , Executive
Editor of the New King James Version, was the consultant. Though out
of print for some time, Oxford released in 2002 a newly formatted
edition of the NKJV Scofield.
The New Scofield Study Bible has been published in several
languages. A French edition was released in 1975 (40,000 were
printed), the Portuguese edition in 1986, and an edition of the
annotations only in Hungarian in 1993. Two German editions have been
published. The first was with the Martin Luther text, and the second
with the Elberfelder text (over 65,000 were printed). A new French
edition and Spanish edition have been released, and an Italian
edition and a new Portuguese edition are in preparation. Spanish
Publications Inc. has prepared a number of these editions. Mrs. Erma
Walker (President of Spanish Publications, Inc) and her late
husband, William, missionaries with CAM International, began a
number of years ago by translating the Scofield materials for the
Spanish Bible. They directed the work on the publications in
Spanish, Portuguese, French, Russian, and Swahili, and the
organization now has requests for the Scofield Bible in over a dozen
After The New Scofield Reference Bible was published in 1967,
Oxford released A Companion to The New Scofield Reference Bible by
E. Schuyler English in 1972. Later, Paul S. Karleen authored The
Handbook to Bible Study with a Guide to the Scofield Study System,
published by Oxford in 1987. This latter volume is a complete and
very helpful guide to the Scofield Bible, and assists the reader to
understand the approach of the Scofield system and the doctrine of
the Scofield Bible.
In 1967, E. Schulyer English wrote that the sales of the Scofield
Bible had topped three million copies. Now, a recent article on the
Scofield Bible puts the number in the tens of millions with all
language editions. That testimony itself demonstrates the appeal,
approval, and usefulness of the Scofield Bible. Though Study Bibles
have been published at an astounding rate (between five and fifteen
new titles a year in the last decade), the new and the old Scofield
Bibles show a consistency in demand. And many have not just one, but
several Scofield Bibles, for as one wears out, another is purchased
to take its place. And why is the Scofield loved? Because no other
Bible provides the clarity and consistency of comments that help the
reader to understand God's revelation to humans in the broadest
sense, and how that revelation relates to every day Christian life.
But not all love Scofield. Some call his teaching heresy,
socialist, Zionist, or that which has been the leading cause for the
fall of American civilization because it presents, from their point
of view, an antinomian view that rejects the moral law of God (as
given in the Old Testament) as the standard for living today. Also,
some claim that it believes the church is weak, ineffective, and
failing because its hope and energy is in waiting for the coming of
Christ for His own, rather than in an active, victorious church.
Some look at Scofield's early life, and note that such a person
can produce only that which is evil and heretical. But is such a
view valid? No, for Scofield was born again after Thomas McPheeters
confronted him with the claims of Christ, and he began to grow in
Christ. All branches of Christianity can identify persons who,
having been regenerated, turned and followed Christ into significant
service for the Lord. Also, the ministry of dispensationalists shows
a great concern for the world's peoples and a growing ministry to
them. Scofield's own CAM International has built, strengthened, and
provided leaders for the church in Latin America. This is one
example among many of certainly believing in, supporting, and
building the church in this age (see Mt. 16:18). Further, the charge
that dispensationalists are "antinomian" (that is, against the moral
law of God), is in error. In response to this charge by Dr. John H.
Gerstner in his book, Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, John
Witmer in his review responds: "Concerning this charge Gerstner
concedes, 'We notice, with relief, that many dispensationalists are
better Christians than their theology allows' (p. 250). This
concession helps explain how a theology supposedly so heretical
could produce such exemplary Christians as Brookes, Scofield,
Gaebelein, Chafer, Pettingill, Trumbull, Ironside, DeHaan, and a
host of others including many dispensational leaders living today.
In fact the daily Christian living of most dispensationalists is
indistinguishable from that of most followers of covenant theology.
This clearly raises the question as to whether dispensational
theology is as antinomian as Gerstner claims, since he would
certainly agree with Jesus' observation that 'the tree is known by
its fruit' (Matt 12:33; cf. 7:15, 20)" (John A Witmer, "A Review of
Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth," Bibliotheca Sacra, 149:594 p.
140, April, 1992).
Is there praise for the Scofield Reference Bible from those who
oppose its theology? Yes!
"The strength of the fundamentalist movement has always been its
remarkable ability to popularize. The Scofield Reference Bible,
whatever one may think of its theology, was a masterpiece of
theological merchandising. People with high school education or even
less were able, after, say, six months of careful study, to discuss
fairly difficult theological topics. There are dangers, of course,
in creating instant theologians: dangers of pride, of overstating
one's own knowledge, of underestimating the complications of the
issues. But the Scofield editors got many of us started on the
business of serious Bible study. In that respect I admire and envy
the fundamentalist tradition; I devoutly wish there were a Reformed
Reference Bible" (John M. Frame, "Review of Handmaid to Theology",
Westminster Theological journal, 45:2, p. 443, Fall, 1983).
Scofield's writing did not end with the Reference Bible. At least
14 books, and a number of pamphlets and articles came from his pen.
Oxford University Press tapped him to serve as editor-in-chief of
its tercentenary edition of the King James Bible, published in 1911,
three hundred years after the original King James Bible was
presented to the public.
In addition to his writing ministry, his speaking ministry grew
with invitations from many parts of the country. His administrative
work increased also. He served as acting superintendent of the
American Home Mission Society for Texas and Louisiana, and later
assumed responsibility for Colorado and surrounding areas. He also
served as president of the board of Trustees of Lake Charles College
in Louisiana and head of the Southwestern School of the Bible in
Outreach ministries were always close to Scofield's heart. His
outreach through cottage prayer meetings began shortly after he
arrived in Dallas. When he left Dallas in 1896 for the pastorate in
Northfield, he reviewed the outreach ministries begun since he
arrived in 1882. Mission and branch works started were the Grand
Avenue Mission (later Grand Avenue Congregational Church), Cotton
Hill Mission (later, Pilgrim Chapel), Bethel Mission (later Union
Deposit Mission), and the "North Dallas Work." He also noted that it
was his desire that a Bible School be started in Dallas. CAM
International also sprang out of the heart of Scofield during that
Indeed, many have been saved through reading the Bible and the
Scofield notes. And many have been called to serve Him through
reading that Bible. The Scofield Bible stands as a source of help
and blessing to untold millions who have read and profited from it.
And that was the goal of Scofield himself, "The completed work is
now dedicated to the service amongst men of that Loving and Holy
God, whose marvelous grace in Christ it seeks to exalt,"
(Introduction, 1909 edition).