Professor James (Jimmy) Dunn was a great friend of the College during his time in Durham, from 1980 until his retirement down to Chichester a few years ago. Alongside being a Professor of New Testament in Durham from 1982–2003, including as Lightfoot Professor from 1990, he was deeply involved and active in the life of the Wesley Study Centre at St John’s, and a familiar figure in the College’s SCR.
Prior to his death in 2020 he had already made arrangements for the best part of his personal library to come to St John’s. Despite the complexities of getting it to Durham and sorted during a pandemic, we have recently been working through over 120 large boxes of his books, comprising over 3000 individual volumes – and what a treasure-store of a library it is.
Professor Dunn was well-known as a world-class scholar, one of those rare minds who not only influences others but shapes a whole discipline. His work on Paul, on Christology, on the Holy Spirit, and other areas, all contributed to making New Testament studies what it is today. While there has obviously been sadness in the circumstances in which we have received the gift of his library, we are deeply grateful to him and to his family for this gift.
Users of the St John’s College library, now situated in its wonderful new environment of the College’s Learning Resource Centre, will soon be finding books with nameplates indicating that these volumes come from the library of James Dunn. At least one book contains a note and family photograph left for future readers by Professor Dunn’s daughter Fiona, so students may also find some additional treasure inside the books. We have been very privileged to have generous donations such as this over the years, and it is a delight that his own collection will be resourcing and helping students, at all levels, in years to come.