Whitney Shiner

Obituary of Whitney Shiner

Whitney Taylor Shiner, of Reston, Virginia, passed away peacefully on Saturday, June 3, 2017. Born on October 13, 1949 in New Albany, Indiana, he was the son of the late John Shiner and the late Jane Bennett. 

Dr. Shiner was a graduate of New Albany High School, New Albany, Indiana. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Chicago, Master of Theology from the University of Chicago Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in New Testament from Yale University. Subsequently he taught in the Religious Studies department of George Mason University where he designed and taught a popular course on Spirituality and Healing in World Religions, and also developed a new course on African religions—a topic that he deeply cared about, and which he incorporated into all of his introductory world religions courses.

Professor Shiner’s expertise was the Gospels and the early Christian context in which they came to be written, performed, and canonized. Dr. Shiner was interested in the literary structure of the early Gospels, especially Mark, and the clues this structure gives about the way in which these Gospel were publically and orally performed for early Christian audiences. He published two books of distinction on this subject: Follow Me! Disciples in Markan Rhetoric and Proclaiming the Gospel, First Century Performance of Mark.

Dr. Shiner also personally engaged in dramatic, oral performances of the Gospels, and was part of the Network of Biblical Storytellers for many years as well as a regular contributor to the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion. Always passionate about issues of justice, he was a supporting member of the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and was a founding contributor to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. He was actively involved in his home church of Washington Plaza Baptist Church where he most recently served on the search committee that called Rev. Michelle Nickens.

Dr. Shiner loved teaching and immensely enjoyed his students and colleagues at George Mason University, but more than anything else he loved his children and grandchildren. His deepest desire was to have a home where everyone was welcome and all are included.

He is survived by his wife Patricia Pearl Hernandez, daughters Nicole Shiner (Alex) Radunsky, Gabrielle Shiner (Alexander) McCobin, Danica Hernandez (Brian) Keefe, Mya Hernandez, and sons Daniel Shiner, Mateo Hernandez and Dyami Hernandez as well as grandchildren Nelson Radunsky, Frankie Radunsky and Liam Keefe, and many nieces and nephews.

He is also survived by brothers Ben (Nancy) Shiner, and Scott (Kathy) Shiner, and sister Julie (Bernie) Shiner-Bazan.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, June 10, 2017 at Washington Plaza Baptist Church with Rev. Michelle Nickens officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to American Baptist Women in Ministry (ABWIM, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482) in his honor as he was an ardent supporter of women in ministry.

The final paragraph from Dr. Shiner’s book, “Proclaiming the Gospel” rings true to his life:

“…The performance of the Gospel makes Jesus powerfully present. It allows me to participate in his life and his death. The Gospel event embodying the life and death of Jesus is transformative, transformative because it lifts me out of ordinary existence. It creates a new reality. Something in me dies. Something in me is born. It is no longer I who live. The Pauline language describes the intended effect of the Gospel event. I participated in the faithfulness of Christ. It continues to live in me.”