Revd Dr David Palmer

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I left my home town of Hull, aged 19, to train in London at University College, in Architecture, Planning and Building. Prior to going, I had worked at the Hull City Architect’s Offices and travelled extensively round Europe. I registered as an Architect in 1975. After I had worked for the London Borough of Haringey for my first years of architectural experience, I teamed up with a friend to set up the Pickard and Palmer Architects’ Partnership. At the same time I began exploring ministry in the church.

In 1978, after two years of training at All Nations Christian College, I began three years of lay ministry in Camden Town and Holloway, in London. I then went to Fitzwilliam College and Wesley House, Cambridge where I completed preparation for my ordination (in Durham at the Middlesbrough Conference of 1983). At Glasgow University in the 1990s I completed a PhD, part-time, and in Birmingham in 2001 I spent a term at the United College of the Ascension preparing for overseas ministry.

My ministry has been in England, Wales, Scotland and Sri Lanka. In London I was given three inner-city churches to pastor. It was a challenging appointment, but one which was wonderfully fulfilling. Besides the building-up of the congregations, there were building projects to be done, one of which was the provision of accommodation for twelve to live in community (as a Chapter of the Wesley Community). In Wales, in Cardiff, initially I had churches in the docks and in the red-light district with ecumenical and inter-faith work to do. There I took on my first Hospital Chaplaincy in Stroke, Psycho-Geriatric and Maternity wards. In Scotland, in Paisley, I was Superintendent for the first time and additionally took on a proprietorship of a Home for the Elderly and the role of founder Director of an ecumenical Youth Centre Project, the Firehouse. (We were given the Old Fire Station for £1.00!) In Colombo and Jaffna in Sri Lanka, living under curfews and restricted travel, as well as after the tsunami, I was much involved in ecumenical and inter-faith work as well as in design and re-build. Whilst there, I had my first engagements in speaking at ministerial conferences and meetings. It began with my being appointed by the British Conference in 2001 as their representative to the Sri Lankan Conference.

I am now happy to be a Supernumerary Minister of the Methodist Church of Great Britain with the time to continue with my lifelong work on the New Testament. I am pleased to retain my membership of the RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects). And I am pleased to be a participating member still of the British New Testament Society.

My wife, Sue, and I have been the best of pals for over fifty years (we married in 1969). We have four children (one of whom is in heaven) and five grandchildren. 

BSc (London) 2:1 Hons DiplArch (UCL) RIBA 1970 1972 1975 University College, London ditto
DiplANCC 1978 All Nations Christian College
BA (Cantab) 2:1 Hons MA (Cantab) 1983 1988 (by admission) Wesley House/Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University
PhD (Glasgow) 1998 Glasgow University
Roles and responsibilities

Throughout my ministry in church and circuit, teaching has been my focus. I continue to be involved in preparing material to aid people’s understanding of the scriptures and in retirement I now have a Studio in which I can prepare large artworks for exhibition use.

I am a Minister and Presbyter of the Methodist Church and have served in Great Britain (in London, Cardiff, Paisley and Leicester) and in Sri Lanka (in Colombo and Jaffna).

Currently, I am taking an exhibition around Great Britain, An Exhibition in Art: ‘Seeing the New Testament for what it is’ and giving talks on ‘The New Testament, but not as you know it!’ The two-year tour (which is not sponsored) will end in my old home town of Hull, City of Culture 2017.

I have recently joined the Board of The Methodist Church Fund for Human Need as the Secretary and a Trustee. 

Research interests and supervision areas

As a student in Cambridge I worked on an Undergraduate Thesis under the supervision of John Drury on the limits and the structure of the Central Section of Luke’s Gospel. This sparked what was to become for me a lifelong interest in achieving a ‘purely literary analysis’ of the Books of the New Testament. Before I left Cambridge I had engaged with the four gospels and Acts and seen ‘many new things’. I soon added The Revelation to the books of my analysis. 

At Glasgow University I focused on the ‘shortest’ gospel, under the supervision of John Riches, my thesis being

The Markan Matrix: a Literary-Structural Analysis of the Gospel of Mark. I then applied what I had learned about rhetorical analysis and ‘parsing’ to all the books of the New Testament.  Hence, my repeating publication, New Testament: New Testimony…  I am ‘a first-century reader’!

The Greek New Testament manuscripts reveal writing style and structure. They were ‘built’ to be memorised. And because these documents can now be seen to be the works of those who wrote to long-established practice, we can discern both their purpose and their meaning in ways we never could before. We can help each other read these documents in the ways that  the writers intended.


Sliced Bread: The Four Gospels, Acts and Revelation:  Their Literary Structures, Cardiff, 1988

·       A5, pb, 160pp., ISBN: 0-9513661-0-6

The Markan Matrix:  A Literary-Structural Analysis of the Gospel of Mark, Paisley, 1999

·       A5, pb, 374pp., ISBN: 0-9513661-2-2

New Testament: New Testimony to the Skills of the Writers and First Readers, Jaffna, Sri Lanka, 2005

·       A4, pb, 68pp, ISBN: 955-99010-0-1

·       Second Edition, Wigston, 2006: Book: A4, pb, 68pp. with CD-ROM (765pp.), ISBN: 0-9513661-4-9

·       Third Edition, Wigston, 2008: Book in CD-ROM, 1,234 pp., ISBN: 978-0-9513661-6-5

·       Fourth Edition, Church Gresley, 2013: Book in CD-ROM, 1,245 pp, ISBN: 978-0-9513661-8-9

·       Fifth – Illustrated Exhibition – Edition, Church Gresley, 2016: Book in CD-ROM (1,500+pp.), ISBN: 978-0-9513661-7-2; Book (A4, pb, 244pp.) with CD-ROM (1,500+pp.), ISBN: 978-0-9513661-9-6