Mourning the Loss of a Humble Giant: C.K. Barrett.

I too want to say a word in honor of C.K. Barrett, who recently passed away at the age of 94.

In seminary, I connected the name C.K. Barrett to his Roman commentary (Black’s), a nice short interpretation and exposition, competent, careful, and sensitive to pastoral issues. I knew that my friend/mentor Ben Witherington studied at Durham with him. When I too was accepted to Durham (almost 20 years after Ben??!), I was excited about being in such an intellectual environment where this legendary scholar taught. To my great surprise, I came to learn that (1) he was still alive, (2) he was in Durham, and (3) he regularly preached in the Methodist circuit, often to congregations between 20-40 people in size (this was 2006).

These small village churches did not really know him as “C.K. Barrett, Lightfoot Professor Divinity,” but simply as “Kingsley.” Everyone who knew him, knew him simply as such. He was a sweet gentleman – exactly that — “gentle.” I heard him preach on two occasions and chatted with him only once, I think. A bit like Howard Marshall, Barrett was not one to talk and talk. But he was a very engaging preacher – even at 90!

Durham certainly carried on its great “Lightfoot” tradition when Barrett retired – first with James (“Jimmy”) Dunn, and then one of my supervisors – John M.G. Barclay. Both Jimmy and John have a deep admiration for Barrett.

I have felt a sense of privilege in getting a chance to meet and even have a brief conversation with such a great man. I will always have a deep respect for Barrett’s research, especially on Paul. In fact, in tribute, I plan on reading and interacting with some of his work in my Colossians commentary.

God be with his family and friends in this difficult time of loss.