Adam Clarke Biography

Adam Clarke is remembered for writing a commentary on the Bible and was also a very famous Methodist theologian during his time. Read this profile to learn more about his profile, childhood, life and timeline.

Adam Clarke

Quick Facts

Gender: Male
Birthday: 1762
Died: 16 August 1832
Nationality: Irish

Adam Clarke was a famous British Methodist theologian and scholar. He was known for his commentary on the Bible which took him over 40 years to pen and which became the primary base for Methodist theological resource for over two centuries. On his own, he produced nearly half as much material as any other scholar would have ever prepared during their lives. A diligent academic, Clarke opposed the Calvinistic scheme of salvation.

Early Life & Career

All the documents of Adam Clarke’s childhood have long since disappeared into obscurity. As a theologian, Clarke reinforced the teachings of a particular Methodist theologian called John Wesley. The two were anti-Calvinist and believed that the Bible interpreted the nature of God’s plan and will. He considered that scripture itself masked the darkness and the ignorance of man in a materialistic world. His thoughts were deep and profound, which led him to pen his first and foremost Biblical commentary in six volumes which were approximately, 1000 pages each.
Since Adam Clarke was opposed to the Calvinistic scheme, he preferred the Wesleyan-Arminian positions regarding kismet and salvation. In this version, Clarke believed that Jesus Christ was not an incarnation of a superior form and believed that he was primarily ‘un-originated’. He stood by his views and stated, if Jesus Christ were not solely ‘un-originated’, then he would be a subordinate to God and not God himself. Clarke’s views were controversial and were opposed by many Methodists of the time, particularly one individual called Richard Watson. Watson and his associates argued that Clarke’s theories jeopardized the foundations of the doctrine of the trinity. Clarke’s views were rejected by many Methodists, who continued to follow the traditional, orthodox perspective. However, their views changed in a decade or so.
Adam Clarke passed away on August 28, 1832.

Major Works

Adam Clark is primarily remembered for penning a commentary on the Bible which took him over 40 years to complete. The commentary is called-
‘The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’ (Commentary on the Bible)
‘The Christian Prophet ad His Work’
Christian Theology
‘A Biographical Dictionary’
‘The Biographical Miscellany’
‘Miscellaneous Works’


He is still revered and honored as the first Biblical theologian who doctrine a Biblical commentary which took nearly 40 years to complete. To date, this commentary has been used as a theological resource by modern day theologians.

Media Representations

There have been a few books written on Adam Clarke and his teachings. They are ‘Practical Divinity: Theology in the Wesleyan Tradition’ by Thomas Langford, ‘When Adam Clarke Preached, People Listened: Studies in the Message and Method of Adam Clarke’s Preaching’ by Wesley Tracy and ‘Adam Clarke, Controversialist: Wesleyanism and the Historic Faith’ by Ian Sellers.

Famous Associations

Adam Clarke interacted with several theologians and Methodists through his life—some who appreciated his fiery preaching and others who were strongly against his views. They were Richard Watson and John Wesley.


Adam Clarke was scrutinized by many theologians of his time for his approach towards the Bible. Clark was the first theologian who handled biblical theology with a systematic approach, while opposing the Calvinist scheme of salvation. There were a number of Methodists who disagreed with Clarke’s views on atonement. Even post-humously, many Methodists rejected Clarke’s views and opinions on ‘Christ’, favoring the traditional perspective. He however, did have a lot of followers, who agreed on his views.


1760 or 1762: Adam Clark was born in Moybeg Kirley, Tobermore, Ireland.
1778: He became a Methodist this year.
1802: Clark published ‘Biographical Dictionary’.
1806: He became president of the British Conference and published ‘The Biographical Miscellany’.
1810: He started work on the ‘Commentary on the Bible’ which took forty years to complete.
1814: He became a member of the Wesleyan Missionary Society.
1832: Adam Clarke passed away on August 28th.

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Adam Clarke Biography

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Last Updated

April 27, 2020

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