Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Great Elder has Left this World: RIP Professor François Bovon

Professor François Bovon
I am deeply saddened at the death of a great New Testament scholar Professor François Bovon, Frothingham Professor of the History of Religion Emeritus at Harvard Divinity School. He was an excellent scholar who encouraged and supported his students, demonstrated God's compassion, and continued to mentor former students, inviting us to have a meal with him every SBL/AAR! He was my teacher, academic and dissertation advisor, supporter, and friend. He was known to take time to pray with his students at appropriate times. I took my first class on the Christian Apocrypha from Professor Bovon, and his teaching style, his expert knowledge, and enthusiasm for the subject ignited in me a love for those texts.  In fact, it was out of that class that I published my first article as a Ph.D. student and it was published in an international journal. He wrote the French version of the abstract.  Professor Bovon, in these latter years, struggled with throat cancer.  One of the last times I saw him was on Harvard's campus where he invited me to lunch at the faculty club in the fall of 2009 (I was on study leave from my institution), and he shared his story with me. He never sought pity but courageously lived his life to the end continuing to do what he loved to do. He will be dearly missed in this world. Rest in peace, my friend!

François Bovon was a professor from 1967 to 1993 at the University of Geneva, in its Divinity School, which was founded by John Calvin in 1559. He was dean there from 1976 to 1979, and is still an honorary professor of the University of Geneva. He began teaching New Testament and early Christian literature at Harvard in 1993, and was chair of the New Testament Department from 1993 to 1998, and again in 2001-02. He was editor of Harvard Theological Review from 2000 to 2010. He was president of the international Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas in 2000. In recent years he has developed his teaching and research in two directions: the exegesis of New Testament texts, particularly the Gospel of Luke, and the publication and interpretation of non-canonical Acts of the Apostles, particularly the Acts of Philip, legends on Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and apocryphal fragments. His critical commentary on Luke, in four volumes, has been completed in German, French, and Spanish. English and Italian will soon follow. The first volume in English appeared in the "Hermeneia" series, published by Fortress Press, in 2002. The second and the third, published together, appeared in Italian in 2007. His critical edition of the Acts of Philip, done in collaboration with Bertrand Bouvier and Frédéric Amsler, was published as volume 11 in the Corpus Christianorum: Series Apocryphorum by Brepols in 1999. His book The Last Days of Jesus was published in 2006, and a Spanish translation appeared in 2007. Two volumes of essays have been published in recent years: Studies in Early Christianity (2003; in paperback, 2005) and New Testament and Christian Apocrypha (2009; in paperback, 2011).

Precious in God's sight is the death of his children!