Alumni Services

David F Noble

Retired divinity graduate David F Noble traces his journey from New College to positions in the pastorate, book publishing and university teaching.


David Franklin Noble

Degree Course

PhD in Divinity

Year of Graduation


Your time at the University

David Noble

I chose New College, University of Edinburgh, because of notable faculty members, especially James S Stewart and Thomas F Torrance. James S Stewart, a quiet, self-effacing man, could be a roaring lion in the pulpit. As Chaplin to the Queen in Scotland, he wore red sleeves under his robe. These would glow when he raised his arms and said such a thing as “Listen to the wind, Nicodemus. Listen to the Wind!”

Once, I went with a fellow student into a coal mine under the Firth of Forth near Kirkcaldy. Afterward my thighs were stiff for four days from duckwalking between close columns under an impossibly low ceiling for about 100 feet along the coalface.

I became a member of the Edinburgh Chess Club near the West End of Princes Street and was on a team that competed with teams of other chess clubs.

An an ordained minister, I supplied pulpits on weekends at 75 parishes of the Church of Scotland, including Bowmore on the Island of Islay, Grangemouth, Mallaig, and Kirkcaldy. The church at Bowmore was round “so that the Devil couldn’t hide in a corner”. At the church in Grangemouth, the organist showed me the smallest organ pipe, which he had nicknamed “Wee Squeak”. At Ullapool (home of “The Singing Fishermen”) I learned that I shouldn’t wear (as a bad omen) a clerical collar near boats that fishermen were going to use the next morning. At Kirkcaldy I saw during the morning service the miner who had guided me through the coal mine. We recognised each other at once and smiled.

One memorable experience was speaking for the Rev Robert (“Bobby") Walker of Lesmahagow at a youth weekend retreat near Auchendaff Farm and Threeshire Hill. Before a 10-mile hike across a moor, we had for breakfast fried blood pudding, which looked like black cinders in the bottom of the pan. Fried blood pudding was perfect for the long hike because you did not want to eat anything else the rest of the day. 

Your experiences since leaving the University

After a five-year pastorate in Lexington, Kentucky, my careers have been a book-publishing club sandwich between three slices of university-teaching toast in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The topic of my dissertation under Prof Robin A S Barbour at New College was the literary structure of the stories of Mark’s Gospel. I discovered that almost all of Mark’s stories were written according to one narrative pattern in six forms: the full pattern, two abbreviated versions of this pattern, plus a short form of the full pattern and each of the two abbreviated versions. This pattern and its forms can be criteria for evaluating the structure, redaction, and originality of stories in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The only two public copies of this dissertation, which contains a lode of information for further mining, are in the libraries of the University of Edinburgh and New College.

Work on this dissertation influenced positively my university teaching of literature, composition, religion, and technical report writing, plus my work as an editorial director and senior editor for editing and training editors at two different book publishers.

For a list of the books I have written, you can look up my Kindle ebook (Correct Your Own English) on Amazon. In a section (down the page) on information about the author, you can see that I should not be confused with another author with the same name (David Franklin Noble). He was a Canadian professor who lived from 1945 to 2010. His works and mine are sometimes commingled in book listings online.

Currently, at age 84, I am retired. As an active amateur radio operator, I am able to contact, along with other radio stations across most of the world, “ham” radio operators in the United Kingdom.

Alumni wisdom

The best thing an American can hear a Scot say is 'Haste ye back to Scotland'.

David Franklin Noble

Be sure to attend performances at each annual Edinburgh Festival if you are at the University for more than a year.

Visit the homes and sites of famous authors, philosophers, and religious leaders along the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace.

Meet and learn from as many Scots as time will allow beyond academic life. Their friendliness and sense of humour are unforgettable.

The best thing an American can hear a Scot say is “Haste ye back to Scotland”. For me, that was a written message from Bobby Walker on a note in my cabin on the Statendam before I returned to the United States in 1962.

Related links

School of Divinity

David's ebook on Amazon