Feast of Joseph Barber Lightfoot (April 13)   3 comments

Above:  Joseph Barber Lightfoot

Image in the Public Domain

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JOSEPH BARBER LIGHTFOOT (APRIL 13, 1828-DECEMBER 21, 1889)

Anglican Bishop of Durham

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Joseph Barber Lightfoot, lifelong bachelor, was a great scholar.  Our saint, born at Liverpool, England, on April 13, 1828, manifested academic inquisitiveness at an early age.  He, one of the children of accountant John Jackson Lightfoot and Ann Lightfoot, studied at King Edward’s School, Birmingham, where the great James Prince Lee was the headmaster.  At King Edward’s School Lightfoot forged lifelong friendships with Brooke Foss Westcott, Edward White Benson (later the Archbishop of Canterbury), and Fenton John Anthony Hort. Lightfoot also revered the headmaster.  Our saint continued his studies at Trinity College, Cambridge, starting in 1847.  There he continued to excel academically, studied privately under the tutelage of Westcott, and, in 1852, became a fellow.  James Prince Lee, in his new capacity as the Bishop of Manchester, ordained Lightfoot to the diaconate in 1864 and to the priesthood four years later.  In 1862 our saint became the Hulsean Professor of Divinity at Cambridge.  Nine years later he became the Canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, having withdrawn from consideration for appointment to the Regius Professorship of Divinity (in favor of Westcott) in 1870.  Lightfoot, Westcott, and Benson worked on the translation of the New Testament of the Revised Version (1881), starting in 1870.  In the midst of that project our saint became the Lady Margaret Professor of Theology at Cambridge in 1875.

Over decades Lightfoot engaged in Biblical and Patristic scholarship that has stood the test of time.  He wrote commentaries on several New Testament books, mainly Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon (all published during his lifetime) and Acts, John, 2 Corinthians, and 1 Peter (published only in recent years).  Lightfoot also delved into Patristics, in particular the epistles of Sts. Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and Polycarp.  Our saint also helped to found the Journal of Classical and Sacred Philology, published from March 1854 to December 1859.

From 1879 to 1889 Lightfoot served as the Bishop of Durham.  He proved to be a capable administrator, building up the diocese (literally) and helping to create the new Diocese of Newcastle (in 1882).  As Bishop of Durham Lightfoot became involved in social reform.  He started the White Cross Movement in 1883.  The purpose of the movement, which spread quickly around the world, was to encourage strong morality without any double standards, namely those grounded in gender.  The movement called for treating all women with respect, reducing the frequency of coarse language, and maintaining personal purity.

Lightfoot died at Bournemouth on December 21, 1889.  Westcott succeeded him as Bishop of Durham.

The University of Durham has a Lightfoot Professorship of Divinity.  That is a fitting tribute to such a scholar.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Joseph Barber Lightfoot and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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