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Roland Mushat Frye dies


The eminent scholar Roland Mushat Frye died on January 20, 2005, at the age of 83, in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1922, Frye earned three degrees, including his Ph.D., from Princeton University. He served in the United States Army during World War II and was awarded the Bronze Star. After the war, he taught at Emory University and was a research professor in residence at the Folger Shakespeare Library before settling at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the Felix E. Schelling Professor of English Literature until retiring in 1983. A devout Presbyterian, Frye was professionally trained in theology as well as in the humanities, and his books, including God, Man, and Satan (1960) and Shakespeare and Christian Doctrine (1963), reflected his interest in the interplay of religion with literary and cultural history.

Frye was also the editor of Is God a Creationist? The Religious Case Against Creation-Science (1983; now out of print), a collection of essays that together (as Frye wrote in his prefatory overview) "present a comprehensive picture of central religious responses to, and rejections of, the oversimplified and misapplied literalism of modern creationism and creation-science"; the authors include Langdon Gilkey, Davis A. Young, Conrad Hyers, Owen Gingerich, Pope John Paul II, and Frye himself, who contributed a prefatory overview and a concluding epilogue on "The two faces of God." Is God a Creationist? was recommended by James S. Trefil "even to those who, like myself, prefer to conduct this particular battle solely on scientific grounds. It is immensely heartening to learn that creationists, if anything, are farther from the religious mainstream than they are from the scientific."

Obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer