A tribute to James Alfred Loader at Theology

Posted on February 11, 2014

HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies (vol. 69 [1] 2013) pays tribute to Prof Loader, a valued member of the Editorial Board, alumnus of the University of Pretoria, former lecturer at UP and Unisa, and currently Professor Extraordinarius at both these institutions.

He is a gifted academic who received a Leading Minds 1908–2008 Award from the University of Pretoria in 2008 (on the occasion of the centenary celebrations of UP). He also received the degree Doctor Philosophiae honoris causa in April 2009 from the Faculty of Humanities in recognition of his scholarly contribution to the fields of Old Testament and Semitic Studies. His participation in the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa is known to supporters and opponents. At that time he was ‘a lone voice’, but later this voice has been echoed by a growing number of his former students at the University of Pretoria.

Loader was indeed a ‘leading mind’ in various instances during his career. During his stay in the Netherlands, he was the first South African to introduce the themes of ‘power’ and ‘violence’ in the theological and exegetical discussion – a discussion which has become increasingly relevant. During his stay at the University of Cambridge, he, together with the famous James Barr, for the first time in the field of theology pointed out the futility of fundamentalism. A third instance in which he took the lead was in his historical research. He applied 19th century Dutch Ethical Theology to the modern-day South African context.

We pay tribute to a scholar who has, in his day, received the Teyler Award for Theology in the Netherlands, the Chancellor’s Award from Unisa, an award from the National Parks Board of South Africa for Exceptional Merit in Nature Conservation, and who was honoured by the city of Vienna for his contribution in developing the city into an academic centre.

This comes at a meaningful and decisive time in the history of South Africa and the church. We do not only honour Prof Loader, but also thank him for his contribution to church and theology, and for enriching the lives of students and friends.

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