Archive for the ‘Amos Niven Wilder’ Tag

Feast of Amos Niven Wilder (September 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Scan from Volume XII (1957) of The Interpreter’s Bible

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AMOS NIVEN WILDER (SEPTEMBER 18, 1895-MAY 4, 1993)

U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Poet, Literary Critic, and Biblical Scholar

Amos Niven Wilder comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible.

Wilder came from a remarkable family.  Amos Parker Wilder (1862-1936) was a journalist and sometime diplomat.  He was, until 1906, the editor and partial owner of the Wisconsin State Journal.  During the administrations of Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson, he was U.S. Consul to China, based first in Hong Kong (1906-1909) then Shanghai (1909-1914).  Isabella Thornton Niven (1873-1946), daughter of a Presbyterian minister, was a poet.  She encouraged her children to love language, drama, and literature.  Those children were:

  1. Amos Niven Wilder, born in Madison, Wisconsin, on September 18, 1895;
  2. Thornton Wilder (1897-1975), playwright and novelist;
  3. Charlotte Wilder (1898-1980), poet;
  4. Isabel Wilder (1900-1995), novelist; and
  5. Janet Wilder (Dakin) (1910-1994), zoologist and conservationist.

Our saint combined Biblical scholarship and literary skill.  He matriculated at Oberlin College in 1913, but left to enlist in the U.S. Army in 1916.  Wilder, a corporal, drove ambulances in France and Macedonia.  He, discharged in 1919, studied at Yale University, from which he graduated with a B.A. the following year.  His first volume of poetry, Battle Prospect (1923), won the Yale Younger Prize.  Another volume of poetry, Arachne, followed five years later.  Wilder, as a literary critic, wrote The Spiritual Aspects of the New Poetry (1940).  The ministry beckoned to the young Wilder.  He, while studying at Mansfield College, Oxford, in 1921-1923, was the secretary to Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965).  After continuing theological studies at Yale in 1924, Wilder became a Congregationalist minister in 1926.  He was, for a few years, the pastor of First Church of Christ, Congregational, North Conway, New Hampshire.

Wilder was mainly an academic, though.  After teaching at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, he became Professor of the New Testament at Andover Newton Theological Seminary, Newton Centre, Massachusetts.  That was his professional position when he met Catharine Kerwin (December 3, 1906-September 1, 2006) during the summer of 1934 and married her in August 1935.  She came from a socially progressive family active in the suffragette movement.  In other words, Catharine and her relatives were the kind of people many would, in the cynical, regressive terms of 2018 that excuse social injustice and other perfidy, label “Social Justice Warriors.”  Catharine, active in the post-World War I peace movement, had earned her B.A. in history from Smith College and became a teacher.  The Wilders, married for nearly 58 years, had two children, Catharine Dix Wilder (b. 1937) and Amos Tappan Wilder (b. 1940).

Wilder, a Ph.D. from Yale since 1933, became Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Chicago Theological Seminary and The University of Chicago and a member of the Federated Theological Faculty of Chicago in 1943.  There he remained until 1954.  In 1949-1950 Wilder doubled as the President of the Chicago Society of Biblical Research.  Wilder spent 1954-1963 as the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard University.  Then, at the age of 68 years, he retired.

Wilder wrote 35 books, published various articles, and contributed to The Interpreter’s Bible.  Theological works included Otherworldiness and the New Testament (1954) and Theopoetic:  Theology and the Religious Imagination (1976).  The posthumously published book was Armageddon Revisited (1994), a memoir of war.  He also served as a Consulting Editor of The Interpreter’s Bible, wrote the article “The Teaching of Jesus II:  The Sermon on the Mount” for Volume VII (1951), and wrote the introduction to and exegesis of the three Letters of John for Volume XII (1957).

Wilder, active in retirement, traveled around the world with Catharine.  He also continued to play tennis, which he had done since his college years.  Wilder was a nationally ranked tennis player.

Wilder, aged 97 years, died on May 4, 1993.

Catharine, aged 99 years, died on September 1, 2006.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Amos Niven Wilder 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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