David L. Bartlett, age 76, of Hamden, passed away at his home October 12, 2017. David was the husband of Carol F. (Gosnell) Bartlett. Born in Syracuse, New York on February 16, 1941, he was the son of the late Gene Bartlett & Jean (Kenyon) Bartlett. David is also survived by his sons, Jonah Kenyon Bartlett & his wife Elizabeth of New York and Benjamin Gosnell Bartlett & his finance Yumi on California; sisters, Marion VanArsdel & Margaret Bartlett both of MA and his brothers, Randy Bartlett of MA & Steven Bartlett of NY. David was a beloved member of the Yale community. After he completed his bachelor’s degree at Swarthmore (1963), he earned his M.Div. at YDS (1967) and his Ph.D. in New Testament at Yale University (1972). He was ordained in the American Baptist Church the same year that he graduated from YDS. David’s training as a minister and scholar became the defining feature of his career: he was a pastor and a professor. These were not separate careers, but a single career that integrated the two roles. Harry Adams, one of David’s professors at YDS and later a colleague and friend, captured David’s life when he said: “he used his learning to enhance the work of parish ministry.” David did this by serving both churches and schools. He was the senior minister of the University Baptist Church in Minneapolis (1973-1975), the senior minister of the Hyde Park Union Church in Chicago (1976-1979), the senior minister of the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church in Chicago (1981-1987), and a theologian in residence for the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Atlanta (2011-2016). He was also an exceptional professor. While serving at churches he held part-time appointments at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (1973-1975), the Divinity School at the University of Chicago (1976-1979), and the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley (1983-1987). He was a full-time member of the faculty for a number of schools including the American Baptist Seminary of the West and Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley (1970-1972), the Divinity School of the University of Chicago (1980-1981), Union Theological Seminary in Richmond (1987-1990), and Yale Divinity School (1990-2005), from which he retired as the Lantz Professor Emeritus. He could not, however, stay retired, and soon joined Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta as a Distinguished Professor of New Testament. The integration of scholarship and ministry is also evident in his publications. David was the author or editor of nearly twenty books, more than fifty articles in publications oriented toward ministry, and countless other shorter pieces in various publications. He is perhaps most famous for the twelve-volume Feasting on the Word. His co-editor, Barbara Brown Taylor, remembered her work with David: “I knew of him by reputation only when Westminster John Knox Press and Columbia Seminary approached us about co-editing a commentary on the revised common lectionary. The scope of the project was so vast that I could not imagine saying yes, but the prospect of working with David proved irresistible. We were sitting in a restaurant near the seminary named ‘Feast‘ when we decided to call the series Feasting on the Word. Twelve volumes later, David's steady vision, ready humor, biblical genius, and vast network of friends had pulled us through. It was the hardest and happiest work I have ever done.” David combined his passion for both scholarship and ministry by focusing on homiletics. He was a superb preacher and a dearly loved teacher. Nora Tubbs Tisdale was his colleague first at Union Theological Seminary and again here at Yale. She remembers how David was not only an effective pedagogue, but a model: “With deep conviction, a heavy dose of self-deprecating wit, and a delightful sense of humor, David challenged students to preach with biblical integrity, theological depth, and pastoral sensitivity. He also modeled excellence in preaching through his own engaging and inspiring sermons.” All of us who heard David preach know how true this is. His former students were so inspired by him that they have created a scholarship in his honor, an honor not many faculty receive. This past spring he was selected to receive our alumni/ae Distinction in Theological Education award, an honor that will be presented next Thursday evening. David was far more than a scholar and minister: he was a model Christian, a first-rate human being. He was always sensitive to the needs of others, a trait that served him well in the important administrative roles he played at YDS. While he was at Yale, he served as the associate dean and then dean of academic affairs (1993-2004). In the final years of his service he worked closely with Harry Attridge, who later continued the partnership with David in the production of the Yale Bible Study videos. Harry said: “It was one of the greatest joys of my time at Yale to have known David as a colleague and friend and to have worked with him in helping others to appreciate sacred Scripture.” David had a deep, rich voice and a booming laughter that bounced around rooms announcing not only his presence, but his joy of life. He and Carol were exceptionally generous. They opened their home to others in ways that few do (some of you have stayed in their homes). They went out of their way to welcome newcomers to the community. David and Carol have not only been colleagues to many of us, they have been dear friends. David had been as vibrant as ever before he was beset last summer by a pair of strokes, from which he could not recover. We mourn the end of an exemplary life that is too rare in our world. As Barbara Brown Taylor wrote: “The only thing that tempers his loss is knowing for sure how much better the world is because David lived in it.” I will simply say, Amen. Friends may attend his Memorial Service on Wednesday, October 18th at 11:00 AM at the Marquand Chapel, 409 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511. The Service will be available on Livestream for those who cannot attend. His interment will be private. Arrangements are in care of Beecher & Bennett Funeral Home, 2300 Whitney Ave, Hamden.

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  1. Dear Carol, Ben, and Jonah: I am so sorry for your loss and am thinking of all of you at this time. I always enjoyed the open, interesting, and sometimes humorous conversations I had with David. I’ve seen firsthand the respect his friends and colleagues, including my parents, had for him. He will be missed! Sending love.

  2. I was very saddened to hear of Professor Bartlett’s passing. He once encouraged me by assuring me I belonged at YDS and not to give my doubts another thought. Without this I might not have finished my studies or graduated. God bless.

  3. Dear Carol–Just heard of the loss of David from Joseph Price, who also knew him through Hyde Park Union and admired him and his preaching as I did. I was planning to write to him but waited to hear from Joseph for an update on his condition following the stroke. He had an immense influence on me during the all too few years I knew him, as I’m sure he did on many, many others. It’s not over as I’ll be reading from his books and sermons (I’ve still got copies of some of those) as I come to terms with the news. May the peace of God be with you and yours at this time.

  4. David Bartlett meant so much to me, although I met him late and for a short time. I took a day long preaching class from him at the Episcopal Church in CT and was in his last summer class, Preaching the Resurrection, with David Kelsey. What a team! That class blew my mind open and shored up my faith at the same time. And made me laugh. A pretty winning combination. What meant the most to me (and will stay with me) was the way this warm, learned, generous professor/preacher and scholar listened to my still inchoate ideas and actually deeply entertained them. He hosted them, gave them a place to be in his own mind, which validated me and them. I will be forever grateful.

  5. Dear Carol, Ben, and Jonah, Each day I think of David and find it hard to believe that this wonderful, spirited soul has left us, and I’m sure that you also can’t fathom the relative suddenness of his departure. My wife Charlotte and I grieve with you and your family, but console ourselves with memories of times and talks with him, and feel graced that he was part of our lives here in Atlanta. I knew David most of all as an esteemed friend in a group at Trinity Church here in Atlanta, notoriously titled .Men in Transition.. In this group that met twice a month he found himself among 10-12 men who shared with each other what was on their mind, personally, socially, spiritually, culturally. Though he would often lead us in a moment of prayer, David intentionally put his pastoral role aside and joined us as just another explorer. What that meant to all of us was huge and we all have fond & lasting memories of some of our discussions around the table and of breaking bread together a couple times a year at the Blue Ridge Grille. Another shared experience was graduate work at Yale, and while our respective times and course of study there did not overlap, knowing that David lived in and loved New Haven meant a lot to me. I also can still remember finding out that David’s father was the same Gene Bartlett who’d headed Colgate Rochester Divinity School, located near Highland Park in Rochester, NY. Since I had grown up adjacent to the grounds of that school, and had spent many a winter’s day as a boy sledding down those huge hills of the Divinity School and in the summer playing on its tennis courts, this surprising connection brought back particularly warm memories. And though he was a couple years ahead of me, I remember David’s brother, Steve, who also attended Monroe High School. These common connections made David all the more special to me, but what was most striking to many of us was his profound love for his wife and family, his depth of learning and ability to communicate his wisdom, and his unswerving practice as a true Christian. Carol, we are full of admiration as you have soldiered through these difficult months, supported by your family and close friends, and you’ve been a model I’m sure to many of us wondering what this journey must feel like. I like to think that David is with you still, perhaps even closer. You gave him the freedom to go peacefully. Ron Turbayne

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