Jeremy Mudditt - colleague, friend, and Christian brother - died on the morning of Wednesday 21st April at the Eden Valley Hospice in Carlisle. He was 71.
Jeremy was diagnosed with cancer of the colon just over a year ago and had secondary tumours in his liver. Four weeks ago his liver started to fail and he was admitted to the Infirmary in Carlisle and then to the Hospice.
I wanted to say a few words in honour of Jeremy who was, as all who knew him would agree, an extraordinary fellow - one of a kind.
Jeremy's father, Howard Mudditt, founded The Paternoster Press in London back in 1935 and Jeremy lived in the shadow of Paternoster for literally all of his life. He joined the company in 1957 and replaced his father as its Managing Director in 1975. In 1988 heart problems required a lifestyle change and so he sold the business to STL who moved it up to Carlisle. Jeremy moved to Carlisle with Paternoster and continued to work freelance for it until recent months. So he has walked with Paternoster through its London period (1932-1962), the Exeter years (1962-1992), the Carlisle phase (1992-2004), and its more recent Milton Keynes incarnation (2004-present). He has been the ongoing link with our historic roots and his passing is literally the end of an era.
In his time Jeremy worked in just about every conceivable area of publishing: from commissioning to editing, typesetting to proofing, printing to warehousing, marketing to selling into shops (and even to working in bookshops). If you ever wanted to know about, say, the virtues and vices of various fonts or paper-types then Jeremy was the man! But far more than being a living encyclopaedia of publishing, Jeremy had a passionate faith in the triune God and saw the mission of Paternoster very much in terms of divine calling. This was not just business, it was mission!
Jeremy oversaw the launch of landmark books and series such as the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (1976) and the NIGTC commentaries (the first volume of which appeared in 1978). He also worked for many years on the production of various theological periodicals including Evangelical Quarterly. In recent years his passion was the blooming of the Paternoster monographs. He was instrumental in the creation and growth of what was originally one series (Paternoster Biblical and Theological Monographs) but soon grew into five (Paternoster Biblical Monographs, Paternoster Theological Monographs, Studies in Christian History and Thought, Studies in Evangelical History and Thought, Studies in Baptist History and Thought). It gave him immense satisfaction to play his role in the publication of groundbreaking and significant works that bless both the church and the academy.
But for me the greatest thing about knowing Jeremy was the man himself. He knew so much 'stuff' - history, poetry, art, politics, literature, classical music, theatre, theology - and could keep you entertained for hours with countless stories and interesting snippets of information and opinion. He was an old-school man of the best kind.
Speaking and praying with him not long before he died I was so very impressed by his unswerving faith in and commitment to God. He was at peace with his situation and had complete confidence that his life and his death were in the hands of a Father that he trusted. He died, as he lived, in the hands of Pater Noster - 'Our Father'.
I have asked a few people who knew Jeremy over the years to offer some words of appreciation in tribute to a life well lived.
"I have worked alongside Jeremy as an author, an editor, and an adviser for almost fifty years (we first met on July 10th 1961) and deeply appreciated his friendship, his expertise and wisdom as a publisher, and his marvellous literary knowledge and witty letter-writing skills (continuing the pattern set by his father). The debt I owe to him for the rich contribution that he has made to my own life is incalculable and I thank God for such a friend and colleague."
I. Howard Marshall, Emeritus Professor of New Testament Exegesis, University of Aberdeen. Chairman of the Paternoster Theological Advisory Board, Senior Editor for Paternoster Monographs
"The first word that springs to mind when I think of Jeremy Mudditt is commitment. This was to God, first and foremost; to his family, which was moving; to Christian publishing which was far-reaching; to the Christian Brethren which was profound; and to the Anglican worship which illumined his later years. Nor shall I quickly forget his considerable erudition or his quircky sense of humour. It may be trite but it is surely true to say that we shall not see his like again."
Harold Rowdon, retired lecturer at London Bible College, Brethren author and editor, and presonal friend
"Laurel and I were saddened to learn of the death of our dear friend, Jeremy Mudditt. We have been friends since our time in the UK in the mid-1960s when I was a research student at Manchester and we began to talk about various editorial projects that later came to fruition under Jeremy's watchful eye. We treasure the numerous visits we made over the years to Jeremy and Meg's home in Exeter and our personal friendship over the years. Jeremy's was a life well lived, focused on serving God's kingdom. He was both an encouragement and inspiration to many. We thank God for allowing us to share in various editorial projects together and for the fun we had together."
W. Ward Gasque, English Ministries Pastor, Richmond Chinese Alliance Church, CANADA
"Jeremy was passionate about publishing and loved books from many genres. He would often quote several stanzas from a sonnet or lines from a French poem whilst dashing down the corridors of STL. If sales were strong he could occasionally be heard singing an anthem from The Mikado or a Verdi opera. His tireless commitment to biblical and theological publishing has left a legacy that will continue to influence a generation or more of students, scholars, leaders, and thinkers."
Mark Finnie, Publisher at Authentic Media
"Like many other younger Evangelical scholars I first met Jeremy when Paternoster accepted my doctorate for publication. And like many others, I received encouragement, wise counsel, help, and guidance, and I am grateful to God for His servant's tireless ministry. From this initial contact, I started to freelance for Paternoster, working closely with and learning a great deal from Jeremy, who knew the publishing business inside out and the Christian publishing ministry as well as anyone. It has been a joy and a privilege to serve the Lord together with Jeremy in this way for ten years, and to become a close friend. Evangelical biblical, theological, and historical scholarship has been greatly served by Jeremy who had a deep passion for the intellectual dimension of Christian faith and witness. Now he knows in full. Thanks be to God."
Anthony R. Cross, Director of the Centre for Baptist History and Heritage, and Research Fellow, Regent's Park College, and Member of the Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford
"Jeremy had a unique character. He was a man of immense intelligence, wit, and humour with an incredible command of the English language. His traditional values, his good manners, and charm endeared himself to everyone he met. We shall not forget him."
Jeremy and Liz Thompson Jewitt, Directors of AlphaGraphics, Printers of the Paternoster Monographs and Journals
"I helped Jeremy with historical titles in the Paternoster SCHT, SEHT, and SBHT monographs, although I met him only once. But I was aware of the enormous influence for good he exercised. His strategic vision for Christian publishing allowed academic authors to see their efforts in print and Evangelical readers to appreciate the strength of their position. He loved his Lord with all his mind as well as with all his heart, soul, and strength."
David Bebbington, Professor of History, University of Stirling and Paternoster Series Editor for SCHT, SEHT, and SBHT
He will be missed.