Hilary O’Shea, Senior Commissioning Editor for Classics, Ancient History, and Archaeology remembers Henry Chadwick who passed away on June 22.
The only way to talk about Henry Chadwick (who died last month at the age of 88) is in superlatives. Someone once said, ‘The Catholics have the Pope; the Anglicans have Henry Chadwick.’ Indeed, he could have been Archbishop of Canterbury had he wanted, but he preferred a quieter, academic life in which he could converse with congenial colleagues and indulge his passion for the history and theology of the early Church. Never one to hog the limelight, he was nevertheless a key figure in the ecumenical dialogue between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, and it was a source of great sadness to him that so many issues that had been the subject of intense debate remained unresolved.
On a personal level he made an immediate impression. Tall, stately, eloquent, yet never condescending, he made everyone feel valued and at ease. He could always see both sides of an argument, was never scathing about views he disagreed with, and always strived to keep the peace. Knowing his huge reputation as a scholar, it was with some trepidation that I invited him, back in 1987, to translate Augustine’s Confessions for the Press. He agreed gladly, then proceeded to write a Past Master and, after a longer wait, two definitive volumes on the early Church in the series he edited with his brother Owen (The Oxford History of the Christian Church). He also edited Oxford Early Christian Texts and Oxford Early Christian Studies, and acted as an OUP Delegate for many years. He had the rare gift of making even an author whose work was considered unsuitable go way feeling privileged to have had it considered. That warm feeling of privilege was a legacy he left to all his friends and colleagues.