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<< Return to SBL Forum Archive Elliott James Mason, Sr. 1922-2010

Elliott James Mason, Sr., distinguished longtime pastor and community leader in Los Angeles, and biblical scholar, died at his home on March 23, 2010. He was 88.

Mason was born January 13, 1922 in New Orleans. A top honors graduate of Dillard University, he continued his studies at the Oberlin School of Theology, from which earned the degree of Bachelor of Sacred Theology in 1953. As a Fulbright scholar in the 1950s he studied at University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Upon his return to the United States he studied at the University of Southern California and from there took the Ph.D. in Religion in 1968. His dissertation focused on some implications of the inclusion of the letter to the Hebrews in the Pauline corpus according to Chester Beatty Papyrus II.

A longtime member of the Society of Biblical Literature and a Research Associate at the Institute for Signifying Scriptures in Claremont, Mason remained conversant with and supportive of scholarship in the field. He was a dignified professional trailblazer, and confidant and mentor to many African American scholars in different fields during periods when senior African Americans who had taken advanced research degrees of any type were very few. Refusing to allow institutional settings and commitments to determine level or type of critical thinking, scholarly work, and social and political engagement, Mason modeled intellectual and personal honesty, integrity, and generosity. 

Mason is survived by his wife, Geraldine; a daughter, Wanda; three sons, Elliott Jr., Wayne, and Reginald; and seven grandchildren.

 The funeral service will be held on Tuesday, March 30, at Trinity Baptist Church, 2040 W. Jefferson Boulevard, Los Angeles.


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