Remembering C K Barrett

Following the sad news of his death, his colleagues and friendsremember the Revd. Professor Charles Kingsley Barrett, Methodistminister and widely respected theologian.

Professor James D G Dunn escribes his colleague as "the greatest UKcommentator on New Testament writings since J. B. Lightfoot, latenineteenth century (appropriately) Bishop of Durham. His firstlarge scale commentary, on John's Gospel, was initiallyovershadowed by C. H. Dodd's major contributions on John, but haslong outlasted Dodd's work. The esteem in which Kingsley'scommentary is held internationally is indicated by the fact thatthe second edition of his John commentary was translated intoGerman and included in the leading German New Testament commentaryseries.

"His contribution on Romans, 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians in theBlack's New Testament series ensured that the series becameestablished and highly valued. And his two volume commentary on theActs of the Apostles in the leading British New Testamentcommentary series (the International Criticial Commentary),completed after his retirement, climaxed his work as a commentatoron the New Testament and ensured that his name will be revered bystudents of the New Testament the world over for decades to come.No one else has completed a series of major commentaries on whatcan justly be regard as the heart of the New Testament - John to 2Corinthians. He was indeed the J. B. Lightfoot of the 20th century.His ministry as a Methodist minister in Darlington and thenortheast continued for nearly 70 years.

"Although in post as Lecturer then Professor in the Department ofTheology in Durham University from 1945 to 1982, he was regularlyin the pulpit of Methodist chapels across the northeast everySunday, often twice a Sunday. His preparation for a small villagechapel was as thorough as for large-sized congregations, and 'MrBarrett' was revered in almost countless chapels in Durham countyand further afield.

"The C. K. Barrett Lectureship, set up on his 90th birthday,challenges lecturers to bridge the range between academy and chapelas he did so successfully for so long and to the academic andspiritual benefit of so many."

Professor Morna Hooker gave a paper at a special reception tocelebrate Professor Barrett's 90th birthday. She recalls the manwho was her doctoral supervisor, a friend and colleague since thelate 1950's:

"Kingsley Barrett was a remarkable man. He was the last of a greatline of notable British biblical scholars. And like others amongthem, he combined great scholarship with modesty. Very few - if any- members of the congregations of those Durham village chapelswhere he faithfully preached over so many years would have realizedthat they were listening to the foremost New Testament scholar inthe country. Nevertheless, they knew that they were listening tothe gospel, and gained great benefit from his exposition.

"I first met Kingsley in the autumn of 1958... Manchester had (atmy request) appointed him my doctoral supervisor after T.W.Manson's death, but - modest as ever - he refused to treat me as astudent. At the end of the year he persuaded the appointingcommittee to elect me to a Research Fellowship, and later he let medo a little lecturing for him while he was on sabbatical.

"So he is responsible for getting me started on the academicladder. And always he found time for me, however busy he might be.But that is just my story, and there are many of his formerresearch students who can thank Kingsley for what they aretoday.

"His influence extended, of course, far beyond the sphere of hisown students, since thousands of students world-wide have beenbrought up on his books - in particular his commentaries on Johnand Paul. And his influence on Methodism has been extensive -amazingly so, for someone who spent almost his entire working lifein a University! But that's because he never forgot he was firstand foremost a Methodist minister."

Darlington District Chair the Revd. Ruth Gee pays tribute:

"Kingsley Barrett is held in great affection and respect by theMethodist people in County Durham. His scholarship and skill as ateacher of theology is widely known and celebrated and was rootedand grounded in his faith in Jesus and knowledge of the unfailinglove of God.

"As a Methodist Minister, Kingsley never tired of preaching thegospel and, to the end of his life, was leading worship in theDurham area and further afield. He loved to preach in the churchesin the former mining villages around Durham and would share thegospel wherever he was. In his last weeks in hospital the patientsand staff on the wards heard the good news as Kingsley spoke of Godand sang the hymns of Charles Wesley.

"Kingsley cared deeply for his family and friends and those who methim were soon aware of his humility, integrity, his gentle humourand his genuine interest in them and care for them.

"In his home church, North Road Methodist Church in Durham,Kingsley was a friend and a companion on the Christian journey. Tohis students he was an inspiring and challenging teacher. To all hewas a caring pastor. Above all he was a disciple of Jesus Christ.He will be greatly missed."