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Monday, 23 October 2006

James Barr, 1924-2006

Unfortunately I didn’t hear this news sooner: the great Scottish Old Testament scholar James Barr died last week in Claremont, California. The Herald, The Times, and Vanderbilt University have obituaries.


kim fabricius said...

Barr was at Oxford when I was there ('79-'82), but though his The Semantics of Biblical Language was seminal, he was into his anti-fundamentalism stage by then, and his theological presence was (to my mind) rather inconspicuous. Nevertheless, Barr was always a useful gadfly to have around, and The Garden of Eden and the Hope of Immortality (1992) put a biblical cat among the doctrinal pigeons.

But my biggest problem with Barr was his inept handling of Barth. He once wrote that Barth "paid little attention to other people's opinions." Enough said.

But God will forgive such a serious mis-reading, so let's hope that Barr's "hope of immortality" has now turned to sight.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I appreciated some of Barr's anti-fundamentalist writings, Kim. He called many on sloppy reasoning.

I also appreciated his strong critique of Brevard Childs' program, though not entirely agreeing with Barr's conclusions. (I just thought Childs got too easy a pass.)

kim fabricius said...

Yeah, Michael, I read Barr's great demolition of fundamentalism not long after I became a Christian (and just before I went to Oxford) - took a whole stenographer's note pad of notes on it too. I think I've still got it somewhere! I just wonder if Barr wasn't wasted a bit on some of his projects.

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