Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is mourning the loss of the Rev. Dr. James A. Durlesser ’78/’80, who died Aug. 16, 2022, at the age of 68. At the time, he was serving as a visiting professor of doctor of ministry studies.

From 1999 to 2017, Durlesser served as a lecturer in biblical languages at PTS. In this capacity, he taught Hebrew and elective courses in Hebrew Bible, Aramaic, and Greek. After 2017, Durlesser continued to teach in the D.Min. program, providing academic guidance and support to students in the program by assisting them in planning and structuring their course work and electives. He also worked closely with students who needed extra assistance. Dr. Durlesser served on more than 20 Doctor of Ministry Student Project/Paper Faculty Committees, either as first reader or as second reader.

“Professor Durlesser's death is a tremendous loss for the whole PTS community, especially for our D.Min. program, to which Dr. Durlesser was passionately committed,” says the Rev. Dr. Leanna Fuller, interim vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. “His gentle spirit and deep commitment to student learning will be sorely missed.”

Pittsburgh Seminary President the Rev. Dr. Asa Lee adds, “Dr. Durlesser’s title—visiting professor of doctor of ministry studies—does not in any way convey the extent to which he has been a mentor and caring teacher to our doctor of ministry students. Jim’s unique ministry of accompaniment was a vocation lived amongst many of our students through counseling, writing, and pastoring them to complete their theses. His ministry among us will not soon be forgotten.”

Dr. Durlessser was also an alumnus of PTS, earning his M.Div. in 1978 and a Th.M. in Old Testament in 1980. In addition, he earned a B.A. in religion from Westminster College and a Ph.D. in religious studies with a concentration in Hebrew Bible from the University of Pittsburgh.

In 2020, Dr. Durlesser published The Biblical Theme of Peace/Shalom (CSS Publishing, 2020), which he co-authored with Dr. Ronald H. Love. He was also the author of Metaphorical Narratives in the Book of Ezekiel (The Edwin Mellen Press, 2006), and wrote nine articles for the Westminster Theological Wordbook of the Bible, which was edited by his mentor, the Rev. Dr. Donald E. Gowan, Robert C. Holland Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at PTS. Dr. Durlesser wrote more than 20 study guides and articles published by The United Methodist Publishing House, as well as numerous scholarly articles and papers.

Dr. Durlesser was an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, and served local congregations in the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference for almost 50 years. At the time of death he was residing in New Wilmington, Pa. Dr. Durlesser is survived by his wife, Joy Devine Durlesser.