It is with great sadness that we note the death of a former editor, the Rev Dr Tim Simpson. Tim died on Tuesday 7th April after complications associated with his battle with cancer.
There were many aspects to Tim’s life and ministry, more than can be covered here. He was a relentless teacher, preacher, pastor and campaigner for justice and peace. Other places will record his important contribution to many different churches, universities and colleges. For us Tim was a scholar, an intellectual and an editor. His death feels like the passing of an era for the journal and for the discipline as a whole.
Tim was recommended to us by Walter Bruggemann. Professor Bruggemann spoke of Tim in glowing terms, suggesting that in a number of different ways he would be ideal for the journal. He was right. Tim and I first met in a hotel lobby at an AAR meeting. It was my first visit to North America and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Tim bounded up to me and announced to the hotel ” hi there, you must be Graeme – you look like a Brit waiting to meet someone in a lobby by an elevator”. I had no idea what he was talking about as I was standing in reception by the lift. Tim ushered me into a Texas-themed restaurant and we spent a great afternoon there talking politics and religion. His passion, insight and humour were immediately apparent and, as always afterwards, his company was a delight. Looking back to that period of the journal’s life, and comparing it with now, being an editor was such a different proposition. We were always looking for copy and trying to persuade people to publish with us. Tim was superb at that. He got us variety, including our only real success at getting a right-wing contribution. There was a grind to finding scholars, often new and early career academics, and working with them to produce high quality copy. Tim was committed to the cause and so never afraid of the hard work. Tim chaired one of the early AAR meetings, an important event in our work, not least as Walter was there and gave a paper. And Tim kept us honest, ensuring we focused on why we thought these ideas were important.
So Tim’s passing does feel like the end of an era, a marker for the end of that first stage of the journal. I am sure we would not have the journal we have now without Tim’s energy and imagination, and his hard work. Tim was always modest but his contribution has been immense, often in difficult health circumstances. The journal will be one fitting aspect of his legacy as a theologian, teacher, and campaigner. No member of the past or current editorial team will believe Tim can ever be replaced. Our hope is that the intellectual insight and campaigning zeal of the journal will in some small way be a fitting tribute to a life well lived in the service of others.