It is with sadness that we announce the loss of Dr Mervyn C.M Davies, author of Leadership in the Church for a People of Hope (2011), and one of the series editors of our T&T Clark Religion and the University monograph series. His co-editors Gavin D'Costa and Peter Hampson have written some words to mark his passing.
Dr Mervyn C.M. Davies (1940-2014)
“Grasped by the ungraspable God”
Following a two-year struggle with cancer, Dr Mervyn Davies, theologian, Bloomsbury author and editor, died on Tuesday 6th May 2014; at home as he wished.
Educated at boarding schools run by the Dominican order, Mervyn later studied at Leeds and Birmingham Universities and completed a PhD entitled “Newman’s Theology of the Christian Life”. He enjoyed a long and successful career in secondary education. Then, after ‘retiring’ for the first time, Mervyn began a second career as an academic theologian. For 15 years he was involved in clergy formation first on the West of England Ministerial Training Course (WEMTC) and subsequently as Director of Programmes at Wesley College, Bristol. A Newman scholar, a committed ecumenist, an accomplished writer and editor, he was also a much loved university and college teacher, family man, and friend. Always more concerned with helping others than with his own status, he quietly influenced many people and shaped their lives for the better.
Mervyn’s scholarly works include T&T Clark publications Leadership in the Church for a People of Hope with Graham Dodds, and two edited volumes in the Religion and the University Series: Theology and Philosophy: Faith and Reason and Christianity and the Disciplines: The Transformation of the University with Gavin D’Costa, Oliver Crisp, and Peter Hampson. A joint founder of the series, he was committed to the idea that our universities should be places where genuine liberal enquiry can take place, following Newman’s model, and havens of truth-seeking where intellectual and scholarly virtues can flourish. He was passionate about the positive and constructive role that theology can play, not only in our universities and colleges, but also in the Church and wider society. His long and distinguished career in education and ecumenism was honoured by the Church in 2007 on his second ‘retirement’ with the insignia “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice”.
Mervyn was one of the most hospitable friends and reliable colleagues one could hope to have. He gave his last public talk on church history in March insisting that he be allowed out of hospital to fulfil the commitment. Friendship and scholarship went hand in hand for him, and he loved to talk about philosophy, religion and politics, over a glass of good red wine. Even while struggling with his illness, he was always the first to suggest a lunch, or to propose a meeting of his informal theology ‘book club’, and he was animatedly discussing academic matters only a few days before his death. At home in his last days Mervyn spoke movingly about his journey of faith and how he spent his life trying to grasp at the truth of the “ungraspable” God, and of his profound sense of being himself grasped by that God. Our thoughts and prayers are for the repose of his soul, and with his family. Requiescat in pace.
Peter Hampson, Blackfriars Hall, Oxford
Gavin D’Costa, Bristol University