Professorial Predecessors: John C. O’Neill

In a seminar this morning on Romans 13.1-7 the student presenting made substantial reference to John O'Neill's view that these verses are an interpolation (a view with which I disagree). There was a wry smile on my face, however, for the student and perhaps none of the class could know that O'Neill was one of my predecessors in the role that I now hold. His first academic appointment was as Lecturer of NT at Ormond College, the Presbyterian College in Melbourne that later co-operated with Queen's College to form the Uniting Church Theological College. His appointment seems to have been made when Davis McCaughey, the Professor of New Testament then also became Master at Ormond (more on McCaughey in another post). He only stayed a couple of years.

O'Neill was nothing if not an independent mind.  I think I met him once at a British New Testament Conference years ago. I only really knew him for his interpolation theory in relation to the Pauline epistles, although it is clear that his scholarship ranged wide and deep and is especially creative in relation to issues of Jesus messianic self-understanding and mission.  From Melbourne he moved to take up a position at Westminster College, Cambridge and from there to a Chair in Edinburgh.

He died in 2003.  Tributes can be found from his colleagues Johnston McKay here (this seems to have been the obit. for the Times) and David Mealand (from the Independent here.)