In Memoriam: Lamin Sanneh, 1942-2019

Lamin Sanneh, the D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity at Yale Divinity School, passed away on January 6 from a stroke. He was 76 years old.

Dr. Sanneh began his career in education at the University of Ghana where he taught from 1975 to 1978. He then taught at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland from 1978 to 1981, at Harvard University from 1981 to 1989, and finally Yale University. He had a lifetime appointment at Clare Hall at the University of Cambridge and was an Honorary Professional Research Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

Dr. Sanneh was the author, editor, or co-editor of 20 books and monograph-length essays, as well as over 200 articles and chapters in scholarly venues. Some of his most notable works include Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture (Orbis Books, 1989), Abolitionists Abroad: American Blacks and the Making of Modern West Africa (Harvard University Press, 2000), Whose Religion is Christianity? The Gospel Beyond the West (Eerdmans, 2003), Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity (Oxford, 2008), Beyond Jihad: The Pacifist Tradition in West African Islam (Oxford, 2016), and The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Christianity (Wiley, 2016).

Last year, Dr. Sanneh was recognized by the University of Ghana with the establishment of the Lamin Sannah Institute, which will promote scholarly research into religion and society in Africa, especially emphasizing the roles of Christianity and Islam, the two areas of his expertise. In 2002, he was made Commandeur de l’Ordre National du Lion, Senegal’s highest honor. He received the Marianist Award from the University of Dayton in 2011.

Dr. Sanneh received a master’s degree from the University of Birmingham in England and a Ph.D. from the University of London.

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