Rev Prof JKS (Jack) Reid

Rev Professor John (Jack) Kelman Sutherland Reid, CBE, TD, DD, theologian and minister

Born: 31 March, 1910 in Leith Died: 18 March, 2002, in Edinburgh, aged 91

JACK Reid came from a family widely known in the Church; he was the grandson, nephew, and son, and subsequently the son-in-law, brother and uncle, of ministers in the Church of Scotland and other churches. His own father, David, was minister of St John’s Kirk in Leith and the manse looked out on to Leith Links. When the twins, George and Jack, went to George Watson’s College, it must have meant a fair journey across the city there and back. These two boys, the youngest of the family, were to become significant figures - George as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and Jack as one of the country’s leading theologians.

A first-class honours Arts degree in philosophy at Edinburgh was followed by his BD with distinction in theology. After time spent at the universities of Heidelberg, Marburg and Basel, Jack served as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Calcutta.

He returned to Edinburgh and was licensed by the Presbytery of Edinburgh in April 1938. He was inducted to the charge of Craigmillar Park in 1939, but his service there was interrupted when he joined the Parachute Regiment as a chaplain.

He saw very active war service in Crete, in the Middle East and in Europe - on what must have been an unforgettable occasion, he was parachute-dropped somewhat short of the coast of France, and had to swim for it in the Mediterranean. Something of the effectiveness of his service with the army is reflected in a note by his friend, John Baillie, in which he reports that Jack Reid had prepared for confirmation and received to first communion no fewer that 87 men in seven months.

He was appointed as Professor of Theology at the University of Leeds in 1952. There followed a career of great academic distinction, during which he moved to the University of Aberdeen as Professor of Systematic Theology in 1961.

He was the author of several important works, including translations of the work of Oscar Cullmann, and major contributions of his own on Calvin, Authority, and Apologetics. With Professor TF Torrance, he co-edited the Scottish Journal of Theology. On top of all this, there was a flow of learned articles and contributions, which were responsible for him being a well-known and respected name in the circles of Scottish theology.

He was a profoundly committed ecumenist, and represented the Church of Scotland at the Second Vatican Council. In later years, he was on the ground supporting and encouraging the development of the major breakthrough in local ecumenical partnership, the formation of Morningside United Church.

Jack Reid served with great distinction as the secretary of the committee which produced the New English Bible, a task lasting more than 20 years, which worked from the original languages and drew on the best scholarship and literary judgment.

He succeeded the Rev GS Hendry in this role, and their names can still be found together in the introduction to this important, groundbreaking piece of scholarship. His special gift was always an ability to grasp the central thrust of a conference, a meeting, or a scholarly work, and to distil it in a succinct and brilliant way.

Jack Reid - known to many of his friends as "Jacko" - was predeceased by his wife, Gretta Brookes. They had no children.