Meyer remembered as leader, scholar
Chapman recently lost one of its bright lights: a man who was well known internationally for his scholarly work, adored by his students, and admired by all who knew him.
Beloved professor and distinguished biblical scholar Marvin Meyer, 64, died Aug. 16 of complications from melanoma.
Chancellor Daniele Struppa released a letter Aug. 17 to inform the Chapman community of Meyer’s death.
“If anyone ever loved learning for learning’s sake—utterly and unabashedly so–it was Marv Meyer,” Struppa wrote in the email.
A memorial organized by Meyer’s family and Gail Stearns, dean of the Wallace All Faiths Chapel, will be held Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. in the chapel.
“I think the service will celebrate Marv’s extraordinary humanity and accomplishments, though his life ended far too soon,” said Marilyn Harran, stern professor in Holocaust education and director of the Rodgers Center for Holocaust education.
His family held a private ceremony Saturday. The Panther was unable to get in touch with them.
Meyer was thought to have successfully battled melanoma a few years ago, but the skin cancer returned last month.
Nancy Brink, director of church relations, said Meyer told her about his illness about 10 days before he passed. Meyer was originally supposed to teach classes this fall, but asked for a leave of absence before the semester started.
“He could have been a professor anywhere, but he decided to stay at Chapman and make a difference here,” Brink said. “He was deeply committed to making this place a healthy, strong and exciting environment for students.”
Senior religious studies major Annie Mellott took a class about Albert Schweitzer from Meyer last spring and said his discussion and embodiment of Schweitzer’s reverence for life changed her worldview.
“Chapman will be a completely different place without Marv,” Mellott said. “[Meyer’s death] was shocking and devastating, but I’m glad he was always doing something he loved and helping students.”
Meyer also served in many leadership roles during his 27 years at Chapman: director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute, Griset Chair of Bible and Christian Studies, first president of the faculty senate and former chair of the religious studies department.
Anuradha Prakash, president of the faculty senate, said Meyer was a role model for students and faculty.
“He embodied everything we want Chapman faculty to be,” she said. “He was very caring and committed to this university and was a great humanitarian.”
Struppa wrote that it is too early to say who will replace Meyer as director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute.
“Marv was a remarkable teacher, a gifted translator and scholar and a pillar of the Chapman community,” Struppa wrote.
Meyer was well known not only in the Chapman community, but also globally for his academic work. His most famous book is “The Gospel of Judas: On a Night with Judas Iscariat.” He was also a frequent on-camera commentator for History and Discovery Channel documentaries.
“What many of us will always remember is Marv’s deep love of the Gnostic authors whose writings he helped bring out from the darkness, where they had long been dismissed as heretical,” Struppa wrote.
President Jim Doti gave a speech at Convocation, encouraging students to lead life confidently and optimistically like Meyer. Meyer used to give a speech to new students and their parents on the history and traditions night of Orientation.
“We are missing him especially this week,” Brink said. “His enthusiasm for life was infectious.”