Henry Cadbury

Henry Cadbury (1883-1974) was an American teacher, writer and organizer.  He taught religious studies at Westtown School, Haverford College, Harvard University, Bryn Mawr College and Pendle Hill.  A foremost Biblical scholar, he was the acknowledged authority on the Gospel of Luke.  His works included The Style and Literary Method of Luke; National Ideals in the Old Testament; The Making of Luke-Acts; The Peril of Modernizing Jesus; and Jesus: What Manner of Man.  He also worked with other scholars to create the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. With Rufus Jones, Cadbury founded the American Friends Service Committee, and he was twice its chairman.  In 1947 he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, on behalf of AFSC and the British Friends Service Council. 

Cadbury came from an old Philadelphia Quaker family.  As a child, he worshipped at Twelfth Street Meeting (PYM) and attended William Penn Charter School. For writing a letter-to-the-editor to the Philadelphia Public Ledger, criticizing the war fever during World War One, he was suspended from his position at Haverford College and summoned to the U.S. District Attorney’s office to respond to charges of treason.  (None were brought).  At Harvard, he declined employment at first because he refused to swear a patriotic oath.  Allowed to affirm his loyalty, he finally accepted a position.  Cadbury called on Jews to respond with good will to the Nazis during the 1930’s, even to the extent of not staging boycotts.  (This was in line with many Friends of the time who considered any resistance coercion).  He was widely criticized for this belief.  During the Cold War he encouraged Quakers to refuse to pay war taxes.  Cadbury was a president of both the Friends Historical Society and the Friends Historical Association.  He wrote widely on Quakerism, including John Woolman in England: A Documentary Supplement; George Fox’s Book of Miracles; Narrative Papers of George Fox; Quakerism and Early Christianity; and A Quaker Approach to the Bible. 

Henry Cadbury gave so much to Friends.  And he touched my life.  I first encountered Friends through a photo of an American Friends Service Committee peace vigil in front of the White House during the Vietnam War in 1969.  I also read his wonderful Friendly Heritage: Letters from the Quaker Past in the early 1970’s.  This was a collection of columns in Friends Journal exploring various aspects of Quaker history, signed with the pen name, “Now and Then”.  When I began collecting information for my Quaker Artists series, I was aware of a parallel with Friendly Heritage.                                                                               

Gary Sandman

October 2019

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