Obituary: The Revd Professor Michael Screech

by
22 June 2018

The Rt Revd Lord Harries writes:

THE Revd Professor Michael Andrew Screech, who died on 1 June, aged 92, was one of the world’s most distinguished Renaissance scholars, and also exercised a fruitful non-stipendiary ministry in the diocese of Oxford.

A man of formidable linguistic skills, who was fluent in Japanese as well as European languages, he was Professor of French at University College London, and then held fellowships at All Souls and Wolfson Colleges, in Oxford.

Brought up a Methodist, he became an Anglican, and was ordained in 1993. He served in Oxford itself, in his home parish of Whitchurch-on-Thames, and exercised an unobtrusive ministry in the colleges where he served. He hugely valued this opportunity to minister, as others valued both his pastoral concern and preaching. He was a most gifted and eloquent teacher and speaker.

Michael had a long list of scholarly publications to his name on key Renaissance figures such as Erasmus. He restored Rabelais and Montaigne to world literature through his distinguished translations of their complete works. One of his achievements was to show that these icons for secularists were, in fact, profoundly Christian; one of his books is entitled Laughter at the Foot of the Cross. He received a great many awards and doctorates both in this country and abroad, notably in France, where he was honoured as a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur.

He was always concerned that the merit of others should be recognised, and was delighted when his wife, Anne, also a French scholar, was awarded a Lambeth degree. When Anne developed dementia, he showed her exemplary care, still taking her with him to social occasions, at the same time alerting others to her condition.

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