Lamin Sanneh, Ph.D. (1942-2019), was a Distinguished Fellow of the Principium Institute. Born in The Gambia and descended from an ancient African royal family, Lamin Sanneh was a naturalized U.S. citizen who was educated on four continents. He earned degrees in history and Islamic studies and taught in several Universities, including the University of Ghana, Legon, the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and at Harvard, before coming to Yale in 1989 as the D. Willis James Professor of World Christianity and of History. He was a life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University, and an Honorary Research Professor at the School of Oriental & African Studies in the University of London. He was the recipient of honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh and Liverpool Hope University. He served several times as chair of Yale’s Council on African Studies. He was an editor-at-large of the ecumenical weekly The Christian Century and a contributing editor of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, and he served on the editorial boards of several academic journals and encyclopedias. He served as consultant to the Pew Charitable Trusts; was an official consultant at the 1998 Lambeth Conference in London; and was founding member of the Council of 100 Leaders of the World Economic Forum. In 2004-05 he was the recipient of the John W. Kluge Chair in the Countries and Cultures of the South at the Library of Congress. For his academic work, Sanneh was made Commandeur de l’Ordre National du Lion, Senegal’s highest national honor. Sanneh was a fellow of Trumbull College at Yale. He was appointed by Pope St. John Paul II to serve on the Pontifical Commission of the Historical Sciences at the Vatican and by Pope Benedict XVI to the Pontifical Commission on Religious Relations with Muslims. He was the author of over two hundred articles in scholarly journals and of more than a dozen books on Islam and Christianity. He was editor of the multi-volume Oxford Studies in World Christianity series. In 2011 he received the Marianist Award for his teaching and scholarship from the University of Dayton. His publications include: Beyond Jihad: The Pacifist Tradition & West African Islam (Oxford University Press, 2016); The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Christianity (co-edited with Michael McClymond, 2016); The African Christian and Islam (co-edited with John Azumah, 2013); Summoned from the Margin: Homecoming of an African (a memoir, Eerdmans, 2012); Richard Gray, Christianity, the Papacy, and Mission in Africa, collected papers of Richard Gray, edited L. Sanneh (Orbis, 2012); Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture, Rev. Exp. 2nd Ed. (Orbis, 2009); Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity (Oxford University Press, 2008); The Changing Face of Christianity: Africa, The West, and the World (co-edited with Joel Carpenter, Oxford University Press, 2005); Whose Religion is Christianity? The Gospel Beyond the West (Eerdmans, 2003); Abolitionists Abroad: American Blacks and the Making of Modern West Africa (Harvard University Press, 2000); and The Crown and the Turban: Muslims and West African Pluralism (1997).
Sanneh was a convert to Catholicism from Islam. The late Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., was his godfather.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.