Scholar of the Word a man of few words

Charles Kingsley Barrett, who has died aged 94, stood alongside CH Dodd as the greatest British New Testament scholar of the 20th century. 

Barrett regarded commentary on the texts as the primary task of the biblical scholar, and his meticulous commentaries have provided solid foundations for students and clergy for more than 50 years. 

He was a Methodist minister for nearly 70 years and, during his time as lecturer and professor of divinity at Durham University (1945-82), and in retirement there, he preached most Sundays in the city or a nearby village. His opposition to the scheme for Anglican-Methodist reunion in the 1960s brought him into contact with a wider public as a church leader, as well as a renowned teacher.

When, in the 1970s, negative Christian stereotypes of Judaism were discredited, Barrett did not find his own commentaries on Romans (1957), 1 Corinthians (1968) and 2 Corinthians (1973) in need of extensive revision.

Barrett's textbook The New Testament Background: Selected Documents (1956) and The Gospel of John and Judaism (published in German in 1970, and English in 1975) exemplify historical scholarship enriched by theological grasp rather than distorted by religious prejudices.

Unbending on matters of principle and a man of few words in company, Barrett has been remembered for his kindness to junior colleagues. A harmonious domestic life made space for productivity and hospitality. 

From their marriage in 1944 until her death in 2008, Margaret introduced lightness into a life called to seriousness. Their children, Penelope and Martin, who survive him, enabled him to remain independent in old age and infirmity.

FULL ARTICLE: The Rev CK Barrett obituary (The Guardian)


The Passing of C.K. Barrett (The Biblical World)

BOOK REVIEW C. K. Barrett, On Paul: Essays on His Life, Work and Influence in the Early Church (Australian Biblical Review 2003)

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