James Dunn obituary

My husband, James Dunn, who has died aged 80, was emeritus Lightfoot professor of divinity at Durham University. Internationally known as a New Testament scholar and writer, Jimmy was an active church member and above all a family man.

He could teach, supervise and write with authority on almost every aspect of the New Testament, and this range and versatility made him one of the best known and most influential British New Testament scholars of his generation. He was a prolific writer – 50 books in 50 years, many of which remain key texts for theological studies around the world.

The youngest of four sons, Jimmy was born in Birmingham to Scottish parents, David Dunn, a salesman for an engineering company, and his wife, Nancy (nee Orr). The death of his father left his mother to return to Scotland alone when Jimmy was 10 months old and raise four boys alone, during the second world war; a struggle with sacrifice and many hardships.

He was educated at Hutchesons boys’ grammar school in Glasgow where, through the Scripture Union, Jimmy came to the faith that marked his life. After seven years’ study at Glasgow University, he left with degrees in economics (MA Hons) and divinity (BD), and a wife; he and I had known each other since schooldays, and we married in 1963.

Then he undertook PhD studies at Cambridge University in 1965. There his eyes were opened to so many larger worlds, confirmed by two years as chaplain to overseas students in Edinburgh, before he rejoined academia at Nottingham and, in 1982, as professor of divinity, at Durham, where he remained until his retirement in 2003.

His writing in New Testament and Pauline studies enhanced his reputation, culminating in three large volumes (2003-15), entitled Christianity in the Making. His work was recognised by his presidency of Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas and with a fellowship of the British Academy.

It was always his desire and intention to encourage and educate all members of the Christian church to learn more of their faith. This he did by the clarity and simplicity with which he could impart the findings of his rigorous research. His enthusiasm for his subject, the depth of his faith, the warmth of his personality and the “call me Jimmy” greetingwon the hearts of many.

But it was his family that was the bedrock from which all else flowed. Almost every book he wrote acknowledged the immense debt he felt that he owed to me, to our three children, Catrina, David and Fiona, and seven grandchildren.

However, that “debt” was amply repaid by the concern for and interest in all our lives, by the fun and games he so enjoyed, in the pride he took in our various achievements and his love demonstrated in so many ways.

Source: Read Full Article