Denys Turner was Head of the Department of Theology at the University of Bristol when I started undergraduate studies in 1986 and he tried, in vain I fear, to teach me philosophy and some theology. I still remember with much fondness his arrival in an introduction to philosophy class armed with only a dog-eared copy of the Penguin Classics edition of Descartes’ Meditations or Nietzsche’s The Anti-Christ and teaching without notes in a manner that I now recognise as charmingly distracted. I then vaguely remember jokes about Pseudo-Denys, and a story about a Roman emperor who used to have slaves executed on the lawn because he received aesthetic satisfaction from the combination of red blood and green grass (I think we were studying Hobbes, Leviathan). His class in Christian Mysticism was legendary (although I never took it) and am I dreaming about rumours that in one of the classes he encouraged the students to levitate?
Later, in 1999 when he was Head of Department at Birmingham he (along with Mark Goodacre) signed me up to teach some NT courses while David Parker was on research leave. It was my first University teaching role, post doctorate, and I am grateful to them both for the opportunity.
All of which is an introit to the news that Denys will be in Melbourne next week and will be giving a public lecture on the new atheism and its alternatives. It will be a good event. Poster and details below.