David Jenkins


Biography of David Jenkins

David Edward Jenkins (born 26 January 1925) is a Church of England cleric and former Bishop of Durham, a position he held from 1984 until 1994. Since retirement, he has continued to serve as an honorary assistant bishop in the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds.

Jenkins was born in Bromley, Kent and educated at St Dunstan's College, Catford. He had been a lecturer in theology at the University of Oxford, Chaplain and Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford and worked for the World Council of Churches and the William Temple Foundation before his controversial appointment.

He has also given Bampton Lectures on the Incarnation at Oxford and been a professor at the University of Leeds from 1979 until 1984.

His selection as Bishop of Durham was controversial due to allegations that he held heterodox beliefs. His "conjuring trick with bones" comment was criticised[who?] in particular, though some[who?] have argued that he was misquoted. The original line appears to have been "[the Resurrection] is real. That's the point. All I said was 'literally physical'. I was very careful in the use of language. After all, a conjuring trick with bones proves only that somebody's very clever at a conjuring trick with bones." He had stated on other occasions his view that the resurrected Christ lacked a physical body, but the paraphrase of his quote as "just a conjuring trick with bones", while common, is unfair.

Three days after his consecration as bishop on 6 July 1984, York Minster was struck by lightning, resulting in a disastrous fire which some interpreted as a sign of divine wrath at Jenkins's appointment.

As a bishop, Jenkins was known for his willingness to speak his mind. After leaving office in 1994 he continued to voice his opinions, such as in a BBC interview in 2003. In 2005, he became one of the first clerics in the Church of England to publicly bless a civil partnership between two homosexual men, one of whom was a vicar.

Jenkins also became identified with opposition to the policies of the Thatcher and Major governments and subsequently was a critic of new Labour. He argued that what these governments shared was a dogmatic faith on the market which had many pseudo-religious elements to it. This led him to write at length about what he saw as the intellectual deficiencies of economic theory and market theorising and its pseudo theological character. His Market whys and human wherefores : thinking again about markets, politics and people London : Cassell, c2000 was an extended layman’s critique of economic theory and its application to policy. Jenkins described himself as an ‘anxious idiot’ using the latter term in its original meaning of an ordinary person with no professional expertise. His book nevertheless diagnosed many of the problems with economic theory and its application to a deregulated economy that would later become seen to be seen as prescient in the light of the global economic crisis of 2007 onwards. He also challenged the idea that markets created freedom in Dilemmas of freedom, University of Southampton, 1989 and that they were compatible with the idea of a university Price, cost, excellence and worth : can the idea of a university survive the force of the market? (foreword by Elinor Scarbrough) Colchester : Centre for the Study of Theology in the University of Essex, c1991; or health care for all in a contribution to The Market and health careUniversity of Edinburgh, Centre for Theology and Public Issues, 1990.

In 2006, Jenkins was banned from preaching in some of his local churches after reportedly "swearing" in a sermon. (The words used were "bloody" and "damn".) In 2002 he published The calling of a cuckoo : not quite an autobiography London : Continuum, 2002. His daughter Rebecca is an author of crime novels set in 19th-century Durham

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