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STH and GRS Professor Simon B. Parker, Hebrew Bible scholar, to be eulogized

Memorial service will be held today at 12:30 p.m. at Marsh Chapel

Simon B. Parker, 1940-2006

Simon B. Parker, a School of Theology and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences professor, who specialized in the Hebrew Bible, died on April 29 from a brain hemorrhage.

Parker joined STH in 1981 as an associate professor of Hebrew Bible and was associate dean for academic affairs until 1988. He held a joint appointment at GRS and was named the Harrell F. Beck Scholar of Hebrew Scripture in 1991.

Parker’s scholarly work focused on the interpretation of biblical literature in its ancient literary, religious, and social contexts and its significance for the contemporary church. His early research concerned Israel’s inheritance from Canaanite culture — as represented especially in Ugaritic literature — and its transformation of that tradition. More recently, his primary research interest was Hebrew inscriptions, their relation to other archaeological sources and biblical literature, and the light they shed on the social and religious life of ancient Judeans. Parker authored two books: The Pre-Biblical Narrative Tradition (Scholars, 1988) and Stories in Scripture and Inscriptions (Oxford University, 1997), coauthored one book, and contributed to, and was one of five translators of, another.

Parker served for eight years as general editor of the Society of Biblical Literature’s translation series, Writings from the Ancient World, editing seven volumes. He wrote 19 book articles, 26 articles in scholarly journals, and 26 book reviews, and delivered more than 30 papers at international conferences, in addition to numerous talks and sermons at churches in the Boston area. An accomplished pianist, he was a consultant to the United Methodist Church’s subcommittee on revision of the Psalter Hymnal in 1985. His ecclesiastical writings were published by the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Quarterly Review, Tower Notes, and STH’s Focus magazine. For a list of his publications, click here.

Parker was member — and often chair — of numerous STH search and tenure review committees, and he evaluated grant proposals to the National Endowment for the Humanities. He also reviewed tenure cases for other institutions.

The Newton, Mass., resident served on and chaired several committees at the United Parish of Auburndale, including those on worship, planning, pastor-parish relations, and adult education.

Born in 1940, Parker received a B.A. in modern languages from the University of Manchester, England, in 1960, a B.D. from Asbury Theological Seminary in 1963, and a Ph.D., with distinction, from Johns Hopkins University in 1967. He taught at Reed College in Portland, Ore., before coming to BU in 1977, where he was an assistant to President John Silber and an assistant provost.

Parker was the husband of Sonia M. (Palmer), the father of Jonathan A. Parker and his wife, Anne E. Sartori, and Jeremy E. Parker, and the grandfather of Julian I. and Asher B. Parker-Sartori. He was the brother of Martin G. and Linda Parker of Surrey, England, and the brother-in-law of Dot and Mike Palmer Fry and John T. and Linda Palmer. He is also survived by nieces and nephews.

A service of memory and celebration will be held Friday, May 5, at 12:30 p.m. at Marsh Chapel. All are invited to gather “in praise and thanksgiving for the dedicated life of one who has so greatly enriched our own lives,” says Ray Hart, STH dean ad interim.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Simon B. Parker Scholarship Fund, c/o Steve Morin, Room 109, Boston University School of Theology, 745 Commonwealth Ave., Boston MA 02215.