Remembering Arthur Wainwright

Professor Emeritus of New Testament Arthur W. Wainwright, who served on the Candler faculty for 29 years, died in April at the age of 93. Don E. Saliers, theologian-in-residence and William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Theology and Worship Emeritus, offers this remembrance. A memorial service was held at North Decatur United Methodist Church on Saturday, May 18.


Don E. Saliers
May 31, 2019

Arthur WainwrightArthur W. Wainwright taught New Testament at Candler School of Theology from 1965 until his retirement in 1994. A person of deep Wesleyan faith who exemplified in his life “knowledge and vital piety,” he was born in Leeds, England, October 25, 1925, and died in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 17, 2019. Educated at Leeds Grammar School, having already begun the study of Greek at age 9, he matriculated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he studied classics and philosophy. He pursued further theological studies at Wesley House, Cambridge, receiving a B.D. degree from Oxford. During World War II he was conscripted to work in the coal mines from 1943-1947. He often remarked that this dangerous work taught him “how to walk in another man’s shoes.”

His wife of sixty years, Betty Wainwright, was ordained deaconess in the Methodist Church. Arthur served as a tutor and later as chaplain to Methodist students in Manchester. The Wainwrights first met at Tuesday noon services at Center Hall while both were serving the Manchester Mission. Arthur and Betty have been faithful members of North Decatur United Methodist Church for several decades. In recent years Arthur coordinated worship services at the Clairmont Place retirement community in Atlanta.

Among his many publications are Trinity in the New TestamentGuide to the New Testament, Beyond Biblical Criticism, Mysterious Apocalypse:The Book of Revelation,and the Wesley-Langshaw Correspondence with Don Saliers. Perhaps his most detailed scholarly work was the two-volume The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke: A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul to the Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, Ephesians.   

Arthur Wainwright was a true Wesleyan in his preaching and teaching, without a trace of dogmatism. Students and colleagues alike appreciated deeply his clear spirit of gentle, pastoral wisdom. One of his students, now in ministry, recalled how he would begin every class with “let us pray.” Possessed of firm knowledge of Scripture and Tradition with a keen but restrained British sense of humor, he was beloved of several generations of Candler students.

It is fitting to his character that he chose a great Wesleyan hymn to be sung at his memorial: “I’ll Praise My Maker While I’ve Breath.” Praise now “employs his nobler powers,” as his life of teaching, scholarship, friendship and faithful ministry is now completed.