Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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OWEN, HUW PARRI (1926-1996), philosopher and theologian.

Born in Cardiff, 30 December 1926. The composer, Morfydd Llwyn Owen was his half-sister. He was educated at Cardiff High School and Jesus College, Oxford, where he graduated in Litterae Humaniores and Theology. He was ordained by the Calvinistic Methodist church on his appointment as Professor of New Testament at The United Theological College, Aberystwyth, in 1949. In 1953 he moved to the University College, Bangor, to become a lecturer in the New Testament. In 1962 he joined Professor Hywel D. Lewis, previously of University College, Bangor, at King's College, London, as a lecturer in the Philosophy of Religion and he was promoted to Reader in 1963. He was elected to the Chair in Christian Doctrine there in 1971 and remained in it until his retirement in 1983.

The publication which first drew the attention of the world of scholarship to him was his critical study of the influential German theologian, Rudolf Bultmann, Revelation and Existence (1957). In his other substantial publications he concentrated on the doctrine of God: The Moral Argument for Christian Theism (1965), The Christian Knowledge of God (1969), Concepts of Deity (1971), and Christian Theism: a Study in its Basic Principles (1984). This was also the theme of his Davies Lecture in 1986, The Christian Experience of God. He also published a study of the work of one of his predecessors in a chair at King's: W. R. Matthews: Philosopher and Theologian (1976). The Basis of Christian Prayer (2006) was published after his death. He had in addition completed two further volumes, but as yet they remain unpublished. One deals with the basis and nature of Christian belief and the other discusses Christianity and Platonism. In view of his thorough grounding in Biblical studies, philosophy and theology he became a lucid and outstanding exponent of a reasonable faith based on profound religious experiences: ‘As a matter of historical fact’, he said, ‘the Christian faith in its original, biblical, form, rested on experience.’

Throughout his academic career he maintained a home in Cardiff and remained an active member of the church where he was brought up, Plasnewydd, and it was in that city that he died on 26 October, 1996.

Sources:

  • The Independent , 2 Dec. 1996;
  • Alan P. F. Sell, Convinced, Concise, and Christian: The Thought of Huw Parri Owen , 2012.

Author:

John Tudno Williams, Aberystwyth

Published date: 2013