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Cain Hope Felder, notable biblical scholar and author, dies at 76

Cain Hope Felder, notable biblical scholar and author, dies at 76

Biblical scholar Cain Hope Felder (1943-2019), author and longtime professor of New Testament language and literature at Howard University School of Divinity. | Howard University/Justin Knight

Notable biblical scholar Cain Hope Felder, an African American author, preacher, and professor of New Testament, has died at age 76.

Howard University’s School of Divinity, where Felder taught for 35 years, announced his death on their Facebook page on Tuesday.

“We are sorry to announce the transition of our beloved professor, friend, and mentor, the Rev. Dr. Cain Hope Felder,” the School of Divinity said.  

“Details regarding his homegoing service at the Howard University School of Divinity later this month will be forthcoming.”

Born in Aiken, South Carolina, in 1943, Felder served as chair for the School of Divinity’s Ph.D. program and also taught at Princeton Theological Seminary.

While at Howard, Felder was professor of New Testament language and literature and also served as editor of The Journal of Religious Thought.

Biblical scholar Cain Hope Felder, author and longtime professor of New Testament at Howard University School of Divinity, giving remarks in 2014. | YouTube/USEmbassyBridgetown

His published works included Troubling Biblical Waters: Race, Class, and Family (1990), and Race, Racism, and the Biblical Narratives (2002). He served as editor of the book Stony the Road We Trod: African American Biblical Interpretation (1991).

Felder was ordained in the United Methodist Church and served as the first executive director of the denomination’s African American caucus, Black Methodists for Church Renewal.

He served as pastor at Grace United Methodist Church in New York City during the late 1970s before becoming an elder in the Second Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Felder was known as a speaker, being the featured speaker at a Black History Month event at Parkside United Methodist Church of Camden, New Jersey, in 2018.

“It was an honor and a tremendous blessing to have such a noted biblical scholar, theologian, preacher and author as Dr. Cain Hope Felder in our midst,” stated Parkside pastor Keith Dickens at the time.

“Felder’s lecture and message on the African presence in the Bible was most appropriate and timely for the church and for the celebration of Black history.”

In an interview with The Christian Post in November 2005, Felder explained that as a professor, his first concern is to stress that “African Americans have not been cursed by God and that they have enormous potential as people on this earth.”

“But we've been beaten down,” said Felder. “We have to be the moral voice that has to stand up and make a difference out of the oppression.

“Religion should be the basis of empowering people, in giving a new sense of hope and meaning and allow them to reach the fullness of the human potential.”

Felder also told CP at the time that he believed the news media should do a better of noting the broad contributions that churches, including African American congregations, make to society.

“They can project a greater variety of exciting things that are happening in ministry. Many churches are involved in inner city rehab projects ... job referral centers, counseling centers,” he continued.  

“The Church is trying to make a difference in the community in a positive way. It never gets mentioned on television. What makes the biggest noise is mentioned.”

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