James William Lowber, Disciples of Christ minister and university chancellor, was born in Chaplin, Kentucky, on August 30, 1847, the son of Joseph P. and Elizabeth (Leifler) Lowber. He received A.B. and A.M. degrees in 1871 and 1874 from Butler College. In 1868, while a student, he was ordained a minister in the Disciples of Christ Church. Subsequently, he preached and tutored in Greek before his graduation. He received a Ph.D. degree from Syracuse University in 1880 and the degree of doctor of political science from Wooster University in 1897.
Lowber held various pastorates in Pennsylvania and Kentucky before he moved to Texas in 1888 to become minister of the Magnolia Avenue Christian Church in Fort Worth. He was chancellor of Add-Ran Christian University from 1892 to 1897. From Fort Worth he moved to Galveston to organize a Christian church under the auspices of the American Christian Missionary Society. He served as pastor of the Central Christian Church of Austin in 1897. During his time at the church, the Texas Bible Chair was established at the University of Texas.
Lowber retired from the active ministry in 1909 to devote himself entirely to writing and lecturing. He wrote Struggles and Triumphs of the Truth (1888), The Devil in Modern Society (1888), Macrocosmus, or Hints toward the Greatest Problems (1902), Highest Culture and Christianity (1915), and The Philosophy of Human Progress (1925). He was a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, the Royal Educational Institute of Scotland, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Astronomical Society, and the Royal Scottish Geographical Society; he held memberships in the Royal Societies Club of London, the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Italian Mathematical Society.
Lowber was married to Maggie Pleasant LeBaun on July 4, 1882. He died at his home in Austin on December 5, 1930, and was buried at Oakwood Cemetery.