PROFESSOR J. DUNCAN M. DERRETT A certain expert in eastern law and Sanskrit literature in the University of London sought some means of attracting other than Asian students to his courses. It occurred to him that a comparative study of Jewish law might create a point of contact with European disciplines. He therefore learnt Hebrew and made himself compe- tent in Torah, Mishnah and Talmud. One day he found himself in church, listening to the Parable of the Unjust Steward. His studies in Jewish law, combined with an instinctive understanding of the oriental temperament derived from his upbringing in India, made the story immediately comprehensible to him. He rapidly digested the not inconsiderable secondary literature on the parable, and then published his own interpretation in a learned journal. The translators of the New English Bible, who were in the course of revising their first version, read the article, were persuaded, and modified their rendering accordingly. So began the career in N.T. studies of one of the most brilliant and original scholars of our time. The story (part of which I heard from Duncan Derrett himself) may have grown in the telling. But certain features of it have been confirmed again and again in his subsequent publications on the N.T.: his facility in a wide range of ancient and oriental languages; his speed and thoroughness in mastering the history of research on each question; above all, his flair for identifying an original yet plausible solution to an old problem. These qualities, if they have seemed eccentric or even threaten- ing to some, have won the unfeigned admiration of many, eight of whom have gratefully accepted the opportunity generously offered by the Editorial Staff of Novum Testamentum to present this number to him on the occasion of his retirement. The eighth article, by Dr Geza Vermes of Oxford, for which there was not space in this number, will appear in the next and forms part of our tribute. Professor Derrett is giving up his chair a few years before time precisely in order to have more leisure for N.T. work. This volume is therefore not only an expression of our gratitude and apprecia- tion ; we dare to hope that it may also stimulate the further research which we confidently and eagerly await from him. A. E. HARVEY
Novum Testamentum – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1982
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