Surrounded by life

Heiko Augustinus Oberman, born 15 October 1930 in Utrecht, died in Tucson on 22 April 2001. He was as notable as anyone could be in the field of Christian history—a field that he helped make rich and notable.

I knew him well, but not real well. For years he shared the leadership of Harvard’s history of Christianity field with another major figure, George H. Williams, who also died recently. A year after I began teaching at the University of Chicago and often when we met thereafter Heiko would tease me, in his Dutch accent: Why had I not chosen to come teach at Harvard? “You could have been the swing vote in our department,” he said. It is one thing to admire two colleagues who admired each other but did not always see eye to eye on policy or substance and another to swing-vote between them. But all that is another story.


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