Bill Poteat

Tradition and Discovery 35 (2):44-47 (2008)
Abstract
Bill Poteat was a member of Duke University’s Department of Religion and served a term as Chairman, during which I served with him as Director of Undergraduate Studies. I knew him as a brilliant scholar who devoted his exceptional gifts primarily to his teaching and his students. He was charming, gracious, yet we his Duke professorial colleagues never really knew him. One of our ranks suggested that the idea of Bill as a colleague was an oxymoron. Bill did not attend professional meetings and only rarely had conversation of any sort with colleagues. He lived in Chapel Hill and not Durham. However, he seemed not to be at home in any of his academies - UNC Philosophy Department, Duke Divinity School, or finally the Duke Department of Religion. It was not clear what his commitments were. I knew that he had a Christian heritage and perhaps a Christian “hangover,” and had a Divinity degree from Yale. Nevertheless, his personal faith was not publically expressed. Perhaps it found expression in his zealous efforts to overcome the Cartesianism of the modern mind which he contended was inimical to the Christian understanding of the human person and his/her relationship to God. Yet, he was restless, rarely present to us and perhaps also to himself
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