The following extracts are adapted from Donald S. Armentrout, "Christopher Bryan: A Biographical Note." In Biblical Imagination: Essays in Honor of Christopher Bryan. Edited by Ellen Bradshaw Aitken. (The University of the South, 2006)
Christopher Bryan was born in London, England, the only son of William Joseph Bryan, a British soldier, and Amy May Bryan. He spent his childhood and early adolescence in London, a period that included the whole of World War II. He still retains vivid memories of the outbreak of war in September 1939, the London Blitz (1940-1941), and subsequent events such as the dropping of the first atomic bomb.
He received most of his primary education from Saint Michael's (Church of England) Primary School on Star Street, near the Edgeware Road. After taking the "eleven plus" examination, he was awarded a place at Saint Marylebone Grammar School, which he attended from 1946 to 1954. The major influences on him at this time were the poet T. E. Blackburn, who was his form master, and the historian T. K. Derry.
Bryan was awarded a Woodward Scholarship by Wadham College, Oxford, in 1954, and went on to graduate from there successively in the Honour Schools of English Language and Literature (1957) and Theology (1959). Throughout this period, the works of C. S. Lewis and Charles Williams were--and continue to be--major influences.
He completed his Ph.D. in 1983 at Exeter University.
Bryan's formal religious life had begun as a teenager when he was confirmed and subsequently joined with enthusiasm the activities of a thriving Anglo-Catholic parish in London - Saint Mark's, Marylebone Road. Bryan is clear about his indebtedness to this Anglo-Catholic beginning. Father John Crisp, who was vicar of St. Mark's for most of this time, remains to this day his model of what a pastor should be. Bryan says, "He remains, quite simply, the finest parish priest I have ever known."
As for Anglo-Catholicism, Bryan explains, "Christ came to me within the Anglo-Catholic tradition. There Christ called me, and there Christ has blessed me. Whilst I have indeed come to appreciate and value some aspects of the Reformation, it remains that Anglo-Catholic liturgy, Anglo-Catholic concern for social justice and for the poor, the Anglo-Catholic tradition of coming daily to God's table for the Eucharist, the availability of confession, joyful acceptance of the prayers and fellowship of blessed Mary and all the saints - these things, by God's grace, are the basic furniture of my ecclesial home, and, in this life at least, I cannot imagine why I should ever either abandon or replace them."
Bryan studied for the priesthood at Ripon Hall Theological College in Oxford. He was ordained to the diaconate of the Church of England by Mervyn Stockwood, Bishop of Southwark, in Southwark Cathedral on Trinity Sunday 1960, and to the priesthood on Trinity Sunday 1961, at which liturgy he was honored by being the appointed gospeller. He then served for several years as assistant priest at St. Mark's Church, Reigate, in the county of Surrey.
In 1972 he married Wendy Elizabeth Smith, only daughter of Jack Egbert Smith and Joan Dickinson Smith. They have subsequently lived in Alexandria, Virginia, in London, in Exeter, and in Sewanee, Tennessee, where in 2000 he was appointed C. K. Benedict Professor of New Testament at The University of the South. During this period he has taught at various times in the Bahamas, Britain, Canada, Haiti, Israel, South Africa, Turkey, and the United States. From 1993 to the present he has edited the Sewanee Theological Review, one of the only two journals of Anglican theological reflection at present published in the United States. In 2006, Ellen Bradshaw Aitken of McGill University in Canada, his former student, edited Biblical Imagination: Essays in Honor of Christopher Bryan, a Festschrift in the occasion of his seventieth birthday. In October 2012, in recognition of his services to the church and the academy, the University of the South granted to him the degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa.
Now in "semi-retirement" (whatever that means) Bryan continues to write, both non-fiction and fiction, to teach, and to serve the church as a priest. His most important non-fiction books to date are The Resurrection of the Messiah (Oxford, 2011), Render to Caesar: Jesus, the Early Church, and the Roman Superpower (Oxford, 2005), and the popular And God Spoke: The Authority of the Bible for the Church Today (Cowley, 2002), which was among the books commended to the bishops at the 2008 Lambeth Conference. His novel Siding Star was published in November 2012, and in December 2012 was given a starred Kirkus review (the Kirkus star indicating "books of exceptional merit").
Among Bryan's continuing personal delights, besides reading and writing, he lists cooking and eating with Wendy and friends; his dogs; theater, especially Shakespeare; and opera, especially of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, apropos which he freely admits to "a terrible crush" on the Italian diva Cecilia Bartoli. He is, in a small way, an actor himself, and in the semi-professional setting of the University of the South's Theater department is particularly proud of having played Gloucester in King Lear and Boyet in Love's Labours Lost.
For more information about Christopher Bryan go to http://christopherbryanonline.com/