In Memoriam: Richard N. Longenecker

Longenecker in 2016 (taken from Wikipedia)

About one month ago (June 7), the world of biblical studies mourned the loss of New Testament scholar, Richard N. Longenecker, known especially for his work in Pauline studies. One of his best-known books of many is a revision of his PhD thesis, Paul, Apostle of Liberty (2nd ed.; Eerdmans, 2015; 1st ed.; 1964), which predates Ed Sanders’s Paul and Palestinian Judaism (Fortress, 1977) by 13 years. It is considered to have promoted ideas that were ahead of its time, now represented in mainstream scholarship. Doug Campbell, in his Foreword to the second edition, writes:

And so what we find in Paul, Apostle of Liberty is an evangelical analysis of Paul responsive to all the Jewish questions that Sanders later responded to, but developed in a far more constructive way and many years in advance of Sanders’s key work.

— Doug Campbell, Foreword, xvi (italics original)

Among other Christian institutions, he taught at McMaster Divinity College from 1994-2001. Their tribute to Longenecker states, in part:

His faculty appointment at McMaster Divinity College saw him teaching 6 courses per year, including Introduction to the New Testament, New Testament Theology, and electives in the epistles and theological specialties. His areas of interest were wide-ranging, from early Jewish Christianity, the Gospels, Jewish Apocalyptic literature, hermeneutics, social ethics, and above all, the letters and theology of St. Paul. One of his particular contributions to MDC was as the host to the inaugural Bingham Colloquium in New Testament, gathering world-renowned scholars annually to debate New Testament perspectives on such foundational issues as discipleship, prayer, ministry, conversion, and the teaching and person of Jesus. He prioritized his teaching over the years, and took great pride in his work with graduate students, many of whom have gone on to lead lives of significance in the academy and the church.

— Excerpt from MDC’s website

Longenecker will continue to be appreciated for his contribution to biblical studies, the legacy he leaves with his students, and the impact he made to and for the church.

— David I. Yoon

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