Dr. Edgar V. McKnight

November 21, 1931December 29, 2020

Dr. Edgar V. McKnight, a prominent New Testament scholar who taught at Furman University for 35 years, died December 29, 2020.

Dr. McKnight was born November 21, 1931 to William G. and Carrie Belle DeMars McKnight in Wilson, South Carolina. He attended schools in Wilson and Charleston, graduating from Porter Military Academy in 1949. After graduation from the College of Charleston in 1953, he attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, receiving the bachelor of divinity and doctor of theology degrees in 1956 and 1960.

During his college and seminary days he served as pastor of churches in Little River and McClellanville, South Carolina, and Bedford and Christiansburg, Kentucky. He was best known in New Testament Studies for his numerous writings on the significance of literary studies for biblical interpretation. In 1976 he received a master of literature degree from Oxford University and in 1978 his book on Meaning in Texts was given an award by the Conference on Christianity and Literature at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association for its contribution to the study of religion and literature.

In 1981-82 and 1995-96, he served as Fulbright Senior Research Professor in Germany at the universities of Tuebingen and Muenster; and in 2000-01 and 2006-07 he was visiting professor at the divinity schools of Wake Forest and Gardner-Webb universities.

During his academic career at Furman, McKnight served terms as chair of the classical languages department, chair of the religion department, and associate dean for academic affairs. He was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Greenville and the Price Sunday School Class, the Society for New Testament Studies, the Society of Biblical Literature, The American Academy of Religion, the Association of Baptist Professors of Religion, the Torch Club, the American Academy of University Professors, and Phi Beta Kappa.

Surviving is one child, Lynn McKnight of Summerville; three grandchildren, Heather Jones, Forrest McKnight, and Will McKnight; and a sister, Cara Steward. He was predeceased by his son Edgar, Jr., his wife Shirley Robinson McKnight, a sister, Lillian, and three brothers, William, Ralph, and George.

Dr. McKnight was a resident at the Woodlands at Furman for the past ten years. He was loved by family, residents and staff alike as he humbly shared grace, gratitude, and humor during his progressive journey through Parkinsons.

The family will hold a memorial service to celebrate his life and those who loved and admired him at a later date. Memorials may be made to the First Baptist Church or to Furman University.


Dr. Edgar V. McKnight

have a memory or condolence to add?

Roger McKinney

September 29, 2021

We had such a great time in Prien a Chimsee, Germany on our Fulbrights in 1995-96. We shared intellectual thoughts over many dinners and conferences. You and Shirley are sorely missed. RIP
Roger McKinney
Professor Emeritus of clarinet and music history
The College of New Jersey

Shelly Matthews

January 15, 2021

Dear Lynn and family,

My condolences to you at the loss of your father and grandfather. Edgar was a scholar and a gentleman and also a generous colleague during my years on the Furman faculty. I plan to make a contribution to the Society of Biblical Literature in his memory, and wish, if possible, to secure your contact information, so that you might be notified formally of this gift.
May your memories of Edgar, and his lovely wife, your mother and grandmother Shirley, sustain you in this time of grief.

Detlev Dormeyer Prof. Dr.

January 12, 2021

Detlev Dormeyer, 12.1.2021
Dear Lynn,
my condolence that your lovely father Edgar deceased December 2020. My wife Hildegard and I remember with great affection our visits with Edgar and Shirley, when from 01.05. - 31.07.98 I was Fulbright Forschungsstipendiat am Department of Religion of Furman University, Greenville. 1996 Edgar was Fulbright Senior Research Professor on the Department of Religion der Katholisch-Theologischen Fakultät der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität, Münster . In this time I was his host. I owe many ideas and lovely friendship to Edgar. Lieber Edgar, ruhe in Frieden,

Greenville Chautauqua

January 10, 2021

Dr. McKnight was one of the very first supporters of Greenville Chautauqua. Our Founder George Frein moved to Greenville in 1999 when both he and his wife Shelly became professors in the Furman Department of Religion. He was often in attendance at our annual fundraiser supporting his fellow faculty member. He has been missed from our audience.

Janis Bandelin

January 9, 2021

I had the privilege of getting to know Edgar when he would join “the faculty” table in Furman’s faculty-staff dining room both before and after his retirement. He was a man of few words, however, when he spoke, all those at the table listened carefully. His words were always compelling and kind.

Michael Sinclair

January 2, 2021

We shall always remember with great affection our visits with Edgar and Shirley. When memories are so very strong, words do not suffice — and this is definitely one of those times. I hope that they — and son Ed — know that they were and are loved.

Clista Adkins

January 1, 2021

Dear Lynn,

I am so sad for you to see that your lovely father passed from here, although surely he is in the loving hands of GOD and with your beautiful mother. I know he is the most "Edgar" he has ever been, just as GOD created him to be (although it's hard to imagine him any more complete than he was!) I just adored your father. He was such a kind and encouraging older friend. When I was terrified about teaching Bible classes in front of him, he was unfailingly supportive and engaging. He was so generous with his comments and reactions. He and T. C. Smith taught me so much about grace and mercy toward younger ministers and teachers. I truly loved him. I loved your mother, as well. She was exactly the same in all of those beautiful, generous, gracious ways. Thank you for sharing your brilliant, kind, and loving parents with so many people. Glen and I will be lifting you up to GOD. Love, Clista Adkins

Curtis Smith

January 1, 2021

My sincere condolences to my dear friend Lynn McKnight and family on the passing of your father Dr. Edgar V. McKnight.

Katherine DeVenny Booker

January 1, 2021

Lynn and family, I was so sorry to hear of your dad's passing. When I shared this news with my father (Dr. Thomas DeVenny) today, he was very sad to hear it. He and Edgar have been friends for over 70 years since dad was in high school. They shared a solid Baptist faith, a respect of scholarship, and a deep love and yearning to study and understand sacred texts and scriptures not just as an academic exercise but to know God more fully. They both loved their wives and children, their churches, and teaching. I am thankful for your parents' friendship with mine and thankful that we are still connected to one another. God be with you all as you grieve Edgar's loss and remember his long and well-lived life. Katherine DeVenny Booker

Barbara Francois

January 1, 2021

Lynn, Johnny, Heather and family: My condolences on the loss of Dr. McKnight. I had the pleasure of spending a little time with him over the years. He was such a pleasure to speak with and I took video of him singing with you, Lynn. Quite an accomplished and lovely man.