From 1977-80 my wife and I lived in Durham and our daughter Christy was born here. It is nice to be back in beautiful Durham (google Durham Cathedral and oggle the pictures). I have had a glorious day with members of the Divinity Department (Loren Stukenbroeck, John Barclay) and spent some good time with my former mentor C.K. Barrett and his wonderful wife Margaret. Kingsley is now almost 90 but his mind is still quite keen, and he still loves to teach the Greek NT. My visit with him was followed by dinner with my good friends Bishop Tom Wright and his wife Maggie. It has all too seldom been noticed in the U.S. that the epicenter of excellent, and I might add mostly orthodox NT scholarship has been Durham England (not somewhere in the U.S.) for the last 150 years--- the following names should be very familiar to those who read NT literature--- B.F. Westcott, J.B. Lightfoot, Alfred Plummer, C.K. Barrett, C.E.B. Cranfield, James Dunn, and now John Barclay and Tom Wright. To this we could add other Durhamites like Morna Hooker, John Painter, and last but not least yours truly. There is hardly any place better on earth to study the NT than here, in the shadow of the world famous Norman Cathedral. But that is not all for you see Durham has been a living center of Christianity since the time of the Venerable Bede, who single-handedly helped save the church from the Dark Ages and wrote one of the first full commentaries on James and Jude. It is a rich heritage, and a tough one to live up to.
When I went into the Bishop Aukland palace where Tom Wright lives I was stunned by all the pictures of the great scholars and bishops who passed through here going all the way back to St. Cuthbert. Equally impressive were the huge number of bookshelves in this palace. You see Durham bred scholarly bishops like Lightfoot and now Wright. They believed in a learned clergy, not just learned scholars. I do as well. Clergy should be the Bible experts for their people. But there is another wonderful dimension to Durham as well--- it is a center for Wesleyan studies as well as it is a Methodist stronghold.
It is a blessing to be back in Durham, one of my spiritual homes.