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Remembering Dr. William J. Dumbrell

October 03, 2016
"He was not only a brilliant biblical scholar, but a kind and generous Christian."

William J. Dumbrell, former Regent College Professor of Biblical Studies and Regent’s first Academic Dean, has passed away in Australia at age 90.

Professor Dumbrell earned his Th.D. at Harvard University. He taught at Regent College from 1984 to 1988 and returned in the 1990s to teach in the Winter Intensive and Summer School programs. In addition to his work at Regent, Dumbrell also taught at a number of leading theological schools, including Macquarie University, Moore Theological College, the University of Sydney, Trinity Theological College (Singapore), and Emmaus Bible College.

He was the author of many articles, book chapters, and major works of biblical theology, including Covenant and Creation: An Old Testament Covenantal Theology; The Faith of Israel: A Theological Survey of the Old Testament; The End of the Beginning: Revelation 21-22 and the Old Testament; and The Search for Order: Biblical Eschatology in Focus. Dumbrell also authored commentaries on several New Testament books, including Romans, Galatians, Hebrews, the Gospel of John, and Revelation. In 2010, a Festschrift was produced in his honour, An Everlasting Covenant: Biblical and Theological Essays in Honour of William J. Dumbrell, edited by John A. Davies and Allan M. Harman.

“Bill was one of my favorite teachers during my studies at Regent,” recalls Regent College President Jeff Greenman. “He was not only a brilliant biblical scholar, but a kind and generous Christian. He was soft-spoken and gentle, with a warmth that I always appreciated. I was amazed at his utter mastery of both Old and New Testaments, and his expertise on their complex relationship. Outside of class, I enjoyed being in his home and getting to know his family. We often went over to the UBC pool together at lunchtimes to swim laps. 

“My favorite memory of Bill was peeking into his office to witness his rapid fire composition at an electric typewriter. He was a hardworking and dedicated writer, and in those pre-computer days, he wore a green eyeshade, perched a banker’s lamp next to his typewriter, and simply attacked the keyboard with abandon. It was a sight to behold.”

Former Principal and fellow Old Testament scholar Carl Armerding recalls with appreciation Dumbrell’s willingness to step up as Regent’s first Academic Dean. Armerding states, “Bill Dumbrell was God's provision. No one who knew Bill could ever accuse him of bureaucratic tendencies: he was a scholars’ scholar and a ‘bare-bones’ dean. But, in his capacity as Dean, he established the office, attracted scholars like his friend Paul Barnett, and helped us prepare for the generations of students that would come. His and Norma’s coming to serve at Regent was also the beginning of a life-long friendship, and our hearts and prayers go out to Norma and the family in their time of loss.”

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