Sad News: Paul Ellingworth Has Died

Via the undersigned-

Dear colleagues,

I have just received the sad news of the death of our long-time seminar member and friend, Paul Ellingworth. You will remember Paul as a regular participant at the seminar, until in the last few years the ill-health of his wife and the distance from Hawarden to his home in Aberdeen prevented him from joining us. The last paper he gave was at the 2014 seminar and, very fittingly, was on the subject of “The Law in Hebrews”. You will all have your own memories of his scholarship and his humanity, but I’m sure that they will include many instances of your experience of his kindness, modesty and gentle sense of humour. I certainly remember how nervous I was when I attended my first ever Hawarden seminar and realised that Paul would be there to hear my paper on the OT in Hebrews! Of course, I need not have worried, as I received only help and encouragement from him then and since. I will contact his son later today with a message of condolence on our behalf.

Some of you will already have received this news via the British NT Society or other fora, but, for the benefit of those who haven’t, I am pasting in below the details circulated by the Secretary of the BNTS.

Best wishes,
Susan Docherty

Professor Paul Ellingworth

We have received the sad news of the death of Professor Paul Ellingworth on Sunday last, 25 November from Richard, his second (of three) sons. Professor Ellingworth taught at the University of Aberdeen, and worked with the United Bible Societies as a translation consultant for many years, as well as publishing his major commentary on Hebrews (NIGTC), as well as many other published books, articles and essays.

The funeral service will be at 11.00 am on Wednesday 5 December at: Aberdeen Funeral Directors, 49 Causeway End, Aberdeen AB25 3TQ, and Richard Ellingworth says that members of the Society would be very welcome to attend. If you wish to attend the service, and optionally the funeral tea that follows, please let Richard know, either by email<> or phone 01224 314843<tel:01224%20314843>.

The funeral tea after the service will be at: the Palm Court Hotel, 81 Seafield Road, Aberdeen AB15 7YX.

Steve Walton, BNTS

Horrifyingly Sad News: The Death of Rolf Knierim

The following has been sent to Agade by my pal Jack Sasson-

Marvin A. Sweeney, Claremont School of Theology writes

I deeply regret to announce the passing of Professor Rolf P. Knierim (90) and Mrs. Hildegard E. Knierim, née Salm, (89) on September 29, 2018. Both died instantly in an automobile accident near Winslow, Arizona, while returning to Claremont from a brief vacation in New Mexico.

​Professor Knierim was born in Pirmasens and Mrs. Knierim was born in Edenkoben, both in the Rhineland-Palatinate region in Germany near the French border. They met at the age of 5 or 6 in elementary school, and later faced the challenges of World War II. Professor Knierim was forced into military service at the age of 15, but later turned himself in to American MP’s following the bombardment and capture of his home town. After the conclusion of the war, he continued his education at the Humanitisches Gymnasium in Pirmasens, theMethodist Seminary in Frankfurt am Main, and Heidelberg University.

The Knierims were married in 1955, and Professor Knierim was ordained as an Elder in the Methodist Church in 1957. Mrs. Knierim devoted herself to her family. She was well-known for her cheerful personality, her wonderful hospitality, and her own keen intellect. The Knierims are the parents of five children, Johannes, Eva, Eberhard, Barbara, and Gabriele Knierim, and they are grandparents of five grandchildren.

​While at Heidelberg, Professor Knierim served as a pastor, hospital chaplain, assistant to Professors Claus Westermann and Gerhard von Rad, and Privatdozent. He was invited to write a doctoral dissertation under the supervision of Professor von Rad, and he earned his Dr. Theologiae in 1957 and his Habilitation in 1963. His monograph, Die Hauptbegriffe für Sünde im AltenTestament (Gütersloh: Verlaghaus Gerd Mohn, 2nd edition, 1967),is the published version of his Inaugural Dissertation and his Habilitationsschrift.

​Professor Knierim was invited to serve as Visiting Professor at the School of Theology at Claremont (now Claremont School of Theology) in 1964-65. In 1966, he joined the faculty of the Claremont School of Theology as Professor or Old Testament and the faculty of Claremont Graduate School (now Claremont Graduate University) as Professor of Religion (later as Avery Professor of Religion). He developed the Ph.D. program in Hebrew Bible at the Claremont Graduate School and supervised well over thirty Ph.D. dissertations in the field.

​Professor Knierim was an internationally-recognized authority in Form-Critical Methodology and Old Testament Theology. He was a demanding, precise, and enlightening scholar, who constantly reminded his students that our work begins with a close reading of the language, syntax, and formal features of the biblical text. His ground-breaking article, “Form Criticism Reconsidered,” Interpretation 27 (1973) 435-468, marked the conclusion of classical form-critical scholarship and the beginning of a newer and more precise form of the method that he later labeled Conceptual Criticism. Upon reading this article in an undergraduate seminar at the University of Illinois led by Professor David Petersen, I decided to pursue Ph.D. work in the field under Professor Knierim’s direction. Based upon his reconceptualization of the method, Professor Knierim together with the late Professor Gene M. Tucker, Emory University, founded the Forms of the Old Testament Literature commentary series (Eerdmans), which to date has produced nineteen volumes.

Professor Knierim’s monograph, Text and Concept in Leviticus 1:1-9 (FAT 2; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1992), and his commentary on Numbers, co-authored with the late George W. Coats, Numbers (FOTL 4; Grand Rapids, MI, and Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2005), illustrate his understanding of exegetical methodology. His volume, The Task of Old Testament Theology: Substance, Methods, and Cases (Grand Rapids, MI, and Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 1995), illustrates his approach to the field of Old Testament Theology.

​Professor Knierim retired from the Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University in 1994. He was honored with a Festschrift, Problems in Biblical Theology: Essays in Honor of Rolf Knierim (ed., H. T. C. Sun, K. L. Eades, with J. M. Robinson and G. I. Möller; Grand Rapids, MI, and Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 1997), to which Mrs. Knierim also contributed. A two-volume set of essays, Reading the Hebrew Bible for a New Millennium: Form, Concept, and Theological Perspective (ed., W. Kim, D. Ellens, M. Floyd, and M. A. Sweeney; Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2000), republished a number of Professor Knierim’s seminal essays together with studies by colleagues and former students.

​Professor Rolf Knierim and Mrs. Hildegard Knierim had a major impact on the lives of their many friends, colleagues, students, and family members, and they will be missed by all.

So VERY sad.  So heartbreaking.

Sad News: Sister Edmée Kingsmill has Died

From our SOTS secretary-

I have just received news from Debbie Rooke informing me that Sister Edmée Kingsmill died yesterday in Oxford aged 88 years.   Sister Edmée belonged to an Anglican Religious Order, the Society of the Love of God, and lived ‘enclosed’ in a Convent in Oxford.  She joined SOTS in 1998 when she was working on her D.Phil. on the Song of Songs and gave a paper to the Society in 2006, based on her allegorical reading of the text.

For a few years she attended our meetings, having been given special permission by her Order and some members may remember her delight at being able to talk over meals; and recall her enjoying a pint in the bar (kindly purchased for her).  She will doubtless have been well cared for in her latter days.  May she rest in peace.

All good wishes,


The Revd Dr J E Tollington

May she truly rest in peace eternal.

Remembering Philip Davies

I don’t recall when Philip and I first met, but it must have been in the early 90’s when Tom Thompson and Niels Peter Lemche along with Philip and Keith Whitelam were busily developing the new historical methodology known as ‘minimalism’ and alternatively as ‘ The Copenhagen School’ (if you asked Tom or Niels Peter) and ‘The Sheffield School’ if you talked to Keith or Philip.

When we met in the flesh, at a meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, after having been ‘list buddies’ on the Biblical Studies Discussion List (back then on a site called e-groups which was bought by someone else who was then bought by Yahoo), I remember thinking how very Monty-Pythonesque Philip was.  To tell the truth, he always and still reminds me of John Cleese: tall, funny, and profoundly intelligent.

We, I think, hit it off immediately.  We had both grown up Baptist (yes, Philip grew up Baptist) and we both had a deep love of things historical and biblical.  So we had a lot to talk about.

Over the years we stayed in touch, met up at SBL, corresponded with weekly regularity, and I learned so much from him and his books that I can describe him to this day as one of my chief influences.  It was a pleasure to proof some of his work and I can’t fully describe the pride and honor I experienced every time I got an email from him asking if I might look over his latest essay or monograph for infelicities of expression or lack of clarity of thought.  He sometimes typed fairly badly (!)(there were typos…) but he never failed to deliver the intellectual goods.

Philip was the one who encouraged me to join the Society for Old Testament Study, a society of scholars primarily in the United Kingdom whose focus is – surprise, surprise, the Old Testament.  He was one of the two required co-sponsors and it was he who invited me as his guest to the first meeting of the Society I ever attended (you have to be invited to a meeting if you are not a member of the Society), at the University of Chester.  That first meeting was the very meeting where I was voted unanimously into membership (and since non-members are not allowed in the Business meeting, it was Peter Williams who advised me of my acceptance, curiously, whilst we were both making use of the facilities…).

Many of my happiest memories in life have a Philip connection.  Discussing the so called ‘Deuteronomistic History’ in Cambridge or chatting about The Chronicler in San Diego at a little cafe are thoughts that now fill me with both joy and sadness.  Never to have the chance to chat with him again is nothing short of a dark cloud over my mind.

Philip was a friend to me; a genuine friend.  Ben Sira described Philip (without knowing it) when he wrote

A loyal friend is a powerful defence: whoever finds one has indeed found a treasure.  A loyal friend is something beyond price, there is no measuring his worth.  A loyal friend is the elixir of life, and those who fear the Lord will find one.  Whoever fears the Lord makes true friends, for as a person is, so is his friend too. (Sir. 6:14-17)

Philip the Elixir.  May you rest in peace eternal, friend.

Below is a gallery of photos I took at the Chester meeting of SOTS; my first, and the meeting whereat I was voted into membership, 10 years ago, in 2008.

Thomas Thompson’s Obituary for Philip Davies

P. Davies, J. Barton, J. Jarick

The death of my most dear friend Philip Davies on Thursday, May 31, by cancer is a great loss to our entire field. He was not only a scholar of great talent and integrity, who interested himself in all that touched biblical studies. He was also ever a scholar of astonishing originality and discipline, whose impact on the field was immeasurable, not least because of the clarity of his arguments and his ability to focus on the rhetorical center of an issue. Who would have dreamt that such a simple distinction as that between the “biblical Israel”, the “ancient Israel” constructed by historians and the “Israel of the past”, which no longer exists, could have provoked a decade-long debate among biblical scholars, archaeologists, historians and theologians as Philip did in his 1992 essay, In Search of Ancient Israel?

Read the rest.

Memorial Service for Richard Coggins

Via Paul Joyce-

A service will be held in celebration of the life and work of the late Richard Coggins, distinguished Hebrew Bible / Old Testament scholar and highly respected teacher at King’s over many years, on Tuesday 22nd May 2018 at 5.30 pm in the Strand Chapel of King’s College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS. All are most welcome. As a help in planning refreshments and also access, I’d be grateful if those planning to attend could kindly let me know by email (

Sad News: Michael Becker Has Died

From Loren Stuckenbruck just now-

R.I.P. My dear NT colleague, Michael Becker died this morning at 10.42 after suffering a terrible heart attack on 7 April. A sad day full of tears here in Munich. Becker authored a fantastic dissertation on Wunder und Wundertäter with Tübingen‘s Mohr Siebeck (2001). He was 60.

Zwingli’s Friend Urbanus

urbanusThe reformer Urbanus Rhegius (Koenig) was born in 1490 at Langenargen, near Lindau. He studied at Freiburg and at Ingolstadt. At the latter place he became professor of poetry and rhetoric. In the year 1520, he became cathedral preacher at Augsburg, where he accepted the principles of the Reformation. In 1530, he was called as superintendent to Celle and as such was the reformer of the Duchy of Luncburg. He died March 23, 1541. His works appeared in 1562 at Nuremberg, four volumes in German, three volumes in Latin. His biography was written by Heimbuerger (Gotha, 1851) and by Uhlhorn (Elberfeld, 1861).

Joachim Gnilka Has Died

Er war ein Wissenschaftler von weltweitem Ansehen und mit hohen kirchlichen Ehren ausgestattet: Bibelwissenschaftler Joachim #Gnilka ist tot. Der Experte für das Neue Testament starb im Alter von 89 Jahren.

This is sad news indeed.  His books are really helpful and it’s a shame he won’t be adding to his considerable body of work.

Der international renommierte Neutestamentler Joachim Gnilka ist tot. Er starb bereits am Donnerstag im Alter von 89 Jahren in München, wie das Portal “mk-online” am Wochenende via Twitter mitteilte. Der Autor zahlreicher Kommentare zum Neuen Testament lehrte an den Universitäten Münster (1962-1975) und München (1975-1997). Gnilka war Mitglied der Päpstlichen Bibelkommission (1972-1989) und der Internationalen Theologenkommission (1985-1994). Von Johannes Paul II. wurde er 1992 zum Päpstlichen Ehrenprälaten ernannt.

Gnilka stammte aus Leobschütz in Schlesien. Er studierte Philosophie, Theologie und orientalische Sprachen in Eichstätt, Würzburg und am Bibelinstitut in Rom. 1953 wurde er vom späteren Kardinal Julius Döpfner in Würzburg zum Priester geweiht. Nach Kaplansjahren in seiner fränkischen Diözese setzte er sein Studium in Rom fort. Später arbeitete er zunächst erneut an der Universität Würzburg, bevor er nach Promotion und Habilitation Professor für Neutestamentliche Exegese in Münster wurde.

Wissenschaftlich widmete er sich vor allem der Paulus- und Jesus-Forschung. Seine Bibelkommentare und sein Buch “Jesus von Nazareth” wurden in viele Sprachen übersetzt. Zu seinen bedeutenden Werken gehört auch ein Kommentar zum Matthäus-Evangelium. Gnilka hatte auch an der Erstellung der neuen Einheitsübersetzung der Bibel mitgewirkt. (kim/KNA)

Gottfried Locher: In Memoriam

Among students of the Swiss Reformation the name of Gottfried Locher towers above the rest. Locher’s brilliant contributions to that fecund period of theological development are without peer. He died on the 11th of January, 1996.

His most influential contribution, I think, is his massive and utterly thorough Die Zwinglische Reformation im Rahmen der europäischen Kirchengeschichte. Tremendously difficult to find, it nonetheless is worth the effort.

There’s a very brief bio of the great scholar here:

geboren 29.4.1911 Elberfeld (heute Wuppertal),gestorben 11.1.1996 Bern, ref., von Zürich. Sohn des Gottfried Wilhelm, Pfarrers der niederländ.-ref. Gemeinde Wuppertal-Elberfeld, und der Berta geb. Oberman. ∞ 1936 Irene Schöffner.

Theologiestud. in Königsberg, Zürich, Bonn. 1936 Pfarrer in Binningen, 1941 in Feuerthalen, 1954 in Riehen. 1948 Dr. theol., 1954 PD an der Univ. Zürich, 1958-78 o. Prof. für systemat. Theologie und Dogmengeschichte in Bern (1968-69 Rektor). L.s wissenschaftl. Interesse galt der (auf ihre Aktualität hin befragten) Reformationstheologie.

Er legte profunde Studien zu Heinrich Bullinger, Johannes Calvin, zur Berner Reformation und v.a. zu Huldrych Zwingli vor, dessen Theologie er “im Lichte seiner Christologie” und dessen Reformation “im Rahmen der europ. Kirchengeschichte” darstellte. Dr. h.c. der Univ. Basel und Debrecen (Ungarn).

Continue to rest in peace, good sir.

Sad News: Gene Tucker Has Died

Via Jack Sasson-

Gene M. Tucker
Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Candler School of Theology, Emory
University January 08, 1935 – January 04, 2018

Denver, Colorado. Gene M. Tucker died on January 4, 2018 at the age of 82. He was born on January 8, 1935, on his grandmother’s dining room table in Albany, Texas. He was the first of five sons born to Raymond H. and Lorene Tucker. He grew up in West Texas, moving with his family at age 10 to the desert west of Andrews. Throughout his youth he hunted and fished with his father and brothers, leaving him with an abiding love for spending time outdoors, especially with the tools of those activities in his hand.

Upon graduating from high school, he entered McMurry College in Abilene Texas and became the first member of his family to earn a college degree. While there, encouraged by some of his teachers, he decided to be not only a minister of the United Methodist Church, but also a scholar and teacher of the Old Testament. But he often said that the most significant event of those years was meeting his life-long partner, Charlyne (Charky) Williams. Upon graduation in 1957, they were married in Abilene, Texas. Their honeymoon was the trip from Texas to New Haven, Connecticut, where he had been admitted to Yale Divinity School.

He graduated from Yale Divinity School in 1960 with the B.D. degree, and then the Yale Graduate School with an 1961 and the Ph.D. in Religion in 1963. He then embarked on his career in teaching, scholarship, and—as he would always stress—as an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. In 1963, he and Charky moved from Connecticut to Los Angeles for his first teaching position in the Graduate School of Religion at the University of Southern California. From there he moved to Duke University Divinity School in 1966 and subsequently to the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in 1970, where he taught until his retirement in 1995. In addition to teaching, he served a term as the Associate (academic) Dean at Candler School of Theology.

Tucker became a respected scholar, publishing numerous books and articles as author, co-author, and editor. He wrote for a wide range of audiences, including his academic peers, ministers, and general readers. He took particular pride in facilitating the work of other scholars, particularly by editing several series of publications. His works focused mainly on literary and theological issues in the biblical texts. In his teaching and research he dealt with a wide range of biblical materials, but his work was focused on the prophets and the prophetic literature. He served on the translation committee that produced the New Revised Standard translation of the Bible. In his last years as a teacher and scholar he turned his attention to the issue of the bible and the environment, driven by his concerns for how the human race is abusing its home. He was elected President of the Society of Biblical Literature in 1996. He was honored by McMurry University as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2008.

As a teacher, he was especially proud of a number of his doctoral students who have become distinguished teachers and scholars in their own right in schools and universities around the globe.

When he retired, he and Charky moved to Denver to be closer to their children, and also to be near the trout streams of the Rockies and the open skies of the West.   Gene continued his research and writing until age 76, when he donated his extensive scholarly library to the Protestant Theological Seminary in Puerto Rico. He also taught occasionally, including a semester as Visiting Lecturer at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia.

He and Charky travelled extensively, to Australia several times, to Central and South America, and throughout the American West. The ideal destination included snorkeling, fishing, and birding. It would be an understatement to say that Gene became an avid fly fisherman. He was a founding member of the Old Testament Fishing Society. With friends, he caught salmon in Alaska, bass and bluegill in Virginia, small mouth bass and northern pike in Canada, trout in New Zealand, barramundi in Australia, bonefish, tarpon and permit in Florida and the Caribbean, and—of course—trout in the Rockies. He took special pleasure in catching fish on flies he tied with the feathers of pheasant he shot, or the hair of elk he shot with a muzzle loading rifle. He would tell you a fishing or hunting story at the drop of a hat, whether you had heard it before or not.

He and his family were active in United Methodist churches wherever they lived. He taught the same adult church school class for twenty-five years in Atlanta, and was deeply moved when members of the class established a scholarship fund in his honor at the Candler School of theology. In addition, his volunteer activities included serving as the President of the Council on Human Relations, an organization working for civil rights in the late 1960’s in Durham, NC. For more than a decade he devoted a great deal of his time to leadership roles in the Society of Biblical Literature. He and his family were deeply involved in Ring Lake Ranch, Dubois, Wyoming, a non-profit retreat center beginning in 1974. He served on the board of directors and as president for many years.

Otto Kaiser’s Obituary

As translated by Lester Grabbe, for SOTS-

Otto Kaiser
30 November 1924 to 14 December 2017
Professor Dr Dr (h.c. mult.), in memoriam

Otto Kaiser died on 14 December 2017 in Marburg, in the city in which he had lived since 1960, first as associate professor, then from 1962 until 1993 as full Professor of Old Testament, then was active as Professor Emeritus with great passion and charisma. With his death OT scholarship has lost a sensitive and productive researcher, a teacher and interpreter who influenced generations of students with his direct engagement and his teaching texts, an organizer of research who through taking on many editorships in his characteristic generosity made available sources as well as debates and reflections. Many have lost a friend.

Otto Kaiser was born in Prenzlau, Uckermark, as the son of the Prussian senior land inspector Oskar Kaiser and wife Berta who died early. After attending the gymnasium (grammar school) in Eberswalde he entered active war service as an applicant for medical officer in autumn and winter 1943-44. He began to study medicine in the military medical academy already in 1944, but he would not continue to do so after the war and his experiences in the postwar period. Instead, from 1946-52 he studied Protestant theology at the universities of Tübingen and Marburg. After his curacy (1952-54) and while he was assistant to Arthur Weiser (1954-58) he received his doctorate from Tübingen in 1956 with his much-cited study, “The Mythical Meaning of the Sea in Egypt, Ugarit, and Israel” (“Die mythische Bedeutung des Meeres in Ägypten, Ugarit und Israel”), followed by his Habilitationsschrift in 1957, “The Royal Servant: A Tradition-critical and Exegetical Study of the Servant-of-Yahweh Songs in Deutero-Isaiah” (“Der königliche Knecht: eine traditionsgeschichtlich-exegetische Studie über die Ebed-Jahwe-Lieder bei Deuterojesaja”).

The breadth and extent of his books, commentaries, articles, and editorial activity in the decades of his life was organically inspired by a questioning curiosity, a continually new perspective on the sources and contexts, as well as a deep knowledge concerning the preliminarity of everything, including the results of his own understanding. Besides the OT scholars Ernst Würthwein and Karl Elliger, the influence of Wilhelm Weischedel and Rudolf Bultmann is unmistakable. The first one represents the OT scholar’s conversation with philosophy, the latter the image of his pressing question about the theological and existential relevance of the biblical text. Effecting a radical change in OT scholarship since the 1970s he more than practically anybody else influenced the new direction of research on the prophets. The second volume of his Isaiah commentary (ATD, on Isaiah 13-39) marked a consistent concentration on the redaction-critical development of the present book and a move away from focused efforts on the personality of the prophet. In his own investigations and the studies proposed by him he shifted his perspective on First and Second Isaiah as well as on Jeremiah and Ezekiel. He and his students demonstrated the elucidating force of redaction-critical questions for the domains of the Pentateuch, the Chronicler, and Job. From the 1980s his research interests moved to the early Jewish wisdom books of Job, Qohelet and Proverbs, on to Ben Sira and finally to Tobit and the Wisdom of Solomon.

He felt compelled to offer a survey of the ever-changing state of research, accentuated by five editions of his introduction to the OT (1969-84), followed by an outline of his introduction (1992-94), and an introduction to the Apocrypha (2000). A synthesis of the history of religion and literature, combined with a comprehensive theology of the OT, was offered by his 3-volume work, Der Gott des Alten Testaments: Theologie des Alten Testaments: Wesen und Wirkung (1993-2003; revision of the 3rd volume 2013). A critical study edition of Hermann Hupfeld (2005) as well as a study of Philo of Alexandria (2015) signalled the focus of his late interests.

His energy and the pragmatic but likeable ability to motivate male and female scholars to (mutal) work projects showed itself not least in his editorial activity, which accompanied his scholarly life from 1974. He edited the Poetischen Schriften of the Jüdisches Schrifttum aus hellenistisch-römisher Zeit (1974-83), the Texte zur Umwelt des Alten Testaments (1981-2004), the commentary series Altes Testament Deutsch (ATD; 1970-99) and the Kommentar zum Alten Testament (KAT; 1973-2000) either as editor in chief or in collaboration with other colleagues. For a full ten years (1982-92) he was responsible for the production of the Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, founded in 1881, and the accompanying monograph series, Beihefte zur ZAW (BZAW), until 2003. Its establishment as an internationally recognized journal, considering all areas of research, that took a firm place in the scholarly landscape with its interconfessional and interreligious profile, was due to Otto Kaiser and his liberal, questing spirit and his wide-ranging netwoks in the academic world.

The resonance of his activities and his personality was not least confirmed in that he was honoured with the Burkitt medal of the British Academy, corresponding membership of the Göttinger Akademie der Wissenschaften, and honorary doctorates from the Theology Faculties in Jena (1991) and Tartu (1996), as well as the Catholic Faculty of the University of Salzburg (2002).

Jürgen van Oorschot
Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft

Terrible News: Otto Kaiser Has Died

Ich habe die die traurige Pflicht, Ihnen mitzuteilen, dass unser Kollege Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Otto Kaiser am 14. Dezember im Alter von 92 Jahren verstorben ist.

Die Trauerfeier findet statt am 28. Dezember 2017  um 11:00 Uhr auf dem Friedhof Marburg-Rotenberg (Friedhof am Rotenberg; Rotenberg 62). Mit Otto Kaiser verlieren wir einen herausragenden Gelehrten, der unser Fach in vielfacher Hinsicht geprägt hat. Wir werden ihm stets ein ehrendes Gedenken bewahren.

Als Anhang [see below] zu dieser E-Mail schicke ich Ihnen den Nachruf, der in der ZAW erscheinen wird.

Jan Christian Gertz
Universität Heidelberg

Here’s a brief obituary:

Otto Kaiser –  30.11.1924-14.12.2017

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. – zum Gedächtnis

Am 14. Dezember 2017 verstarb Otto Kaiser in Marburg, in jener Stadt, in der er seit 1960 zuhause war und zunächst auf einer außerordentlichen Professur, dann von 1962 bis 1993 als Ordinarius für Altes Testament und danach als Emeritus mit großer Leidenschaft und Ausstrahlung wirksam war. Mit ihm verliert die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft einen sensiblen und produktiven Forscher, einen Lehrer und Hermeneuten, der in der direkten Begegnung und über seine Lehrbücher Generationen von Studierenden prägte, und einen Wissenschaftsorganisator, der mittels zahlreicher Herausgeberschaften in seiner sachbezogenen Liberalität Quellen sowie Debatten- und Denkräume zugänglich machte. Viele verlieren einen Freund.

Otto Kaiser wurde 1924 in Prenzlau (Uckermark) als Sohn des preußischen Landesoberinspektors Oskar Kaiser und seiner früh verstorbenen Ehefrau Berta geboren. Nach der Gymnasialzeit in Eberswalde kam er als Sanitätsoffiziersbewerber im Herbst und Winter 1943/44 in den aktiven Kriegseinsatz. Das noch 1944 an der Militärärztlichen Akademie begonnene Medizinstudium nahm er nach den Kriegs- und Nachkriegserfahrungen nicht wieder auf, sondern studierte von 1946-1952 Evangelische Theologie an den Universitäten Tübingen und Marburg. Nach dem Vikariat (1952-1954) und während der Assistentur bei Arthur Weiser (1954-1958) wurde er im Jahr 1956 mit seiner vielbeachteten Studie »Die mythische Bedeutung des Meeres in Ägypten, Ugarit und Israel« in Tübingen promoviert und schon 1957 folgte die Habilitation »Der königliche Knecht. Eine traditionsgeschichtlich-exegetische Studie über die Ebed-Jahwe-Lieder bei Deuterojesaja«. Die Breite und Fülle seiner Bücher, Kommentierungen, Aufsätze und Herausgeberschaften floss in den Jahrzehnten seines Lebens organisch aus der fragenden Neugier, einem immer neuen Blick auf die Quellen und Kontexte sowie dem tiefen Wissen um die Vorläufigkeit aller, auch der eigenen Ergebnisse des Verstehens. Dabei ist neben den Alttestamentlern Ernst Würthwein und Karl Elliger der Einfluss von Wilhelm Weischedel und Rudolf Bultmann unverkennbar. Ersterer steht für das den Alttestamentler begleitende Gespräch mit der Philosophie, letzterer für das Profil seines immer wachen Fragens nach der theologischen und existenziellen Relevanz biblischer Texte. Im Umbruch der alttestamentlichen Wissenschaft seit den 70er Jahren des letzten Jahrhunderts hat er wie kaum ein Zweiter die Neuausrichtung der Prophetenforschung beeinflusst. Der zweite Band seines Jesajakommentars zu Jes 13-39 (ATD) markiert eine konsequente Orientierung an einer redaktionsgeschichtlichen Erschließung der vorliegenden Bücher und eine Abkehr von einer auf die Prophetenpersönlichkeit ausgerichteten Bemühung. In eigenen Untersuchungen und in von ihm angeregten Studien wandelte sich so der Blick auf das Proto- und Deuterojesajabuch sowie auf das Jeremia- und Ezechielbuch. Die Erschließungskraft der redaktionsgeschichtlichen Fragestellung führten er und seine Schüler auch im Bereich des Pentateuchs, des chronistischen Werkes und des Hiobbuches vor Augen. Seit den 1980er Jahren verlagerte sich sein Forschungsinteresse zunehmend auf die frühjüdische Weisheit von Hiob, Kohelet und Proverbia über Ben Sira bis hin zu Tobit und der Sapientia Salomonis. Zur Zusammenschau nötigte er sich in den sich beständig wandelnden und den Forschungsstand akzentuierenden fünf Auflagen seiner Einleitung in das Alte Testament (1969-1984), gefolgt vom Grundriss der Einleitung (1992- 1994) und einer Einleitung in die Apokryphen (2000). Eine Synthese aus Religions- und Literaturgeschichte verbunden mit einer dezidiert theologischen Summe des Alten Testament bietet sein dreibändiges Werk »Der Gott des Alten Testaments. Theologie des Alten Testaments. Wesen und Wirkung« (1993-2003; Neubearbeitung des 3. Bandes 2013). Eine forschungsgeschichtliche Edition zu Hermann Hupfeld (2005) sowie eine Studie zu Philo von Alexandrien (2015) signalisieren Schwerpunkte seines späten Interesses.

Seine Energie und die pragmatisch-liebenswerte Fähigkeit Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler zu (gemeinsamen) Arbeitsvorhaben zu motivieren, zeigt sich nicht zuletzt an der editorischen Tätigkeit, die sein wissenschaftliches Leben seit 1974 begleitete. So gab er die »Poetischen Schriften« des »Jüdischen Schrifttums aus hellenistisch-römischer Zeit« (1974- 1983), die »Texte zur Umwelt des Alten Testaments« (1981-2004), die Kommentarreihen »Altes Testament Deutsch (ATD; 1970-1999) und den »Kommentar zum Alten Testament (KAT; 1973-2000) federführend oder gemeinsam mit anderen Kollegen heraus. Gut zehn Jahre verantwortete er die Herausgeberschaft der 1881 gegründeten »Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft« (1982-1992) und die sie begleitende Monographienreihe der »Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft« (BZAW) noch bis 2003. Ihre Anlage als einer international wahrgenommenen, alle Forschungsgebiete berücksichtigenden Zeitschrift, die mit ihrem interkonfessionellen und interreligiösen Profil einen festen Platz in der wissenschaftlichen Landschaft einnimmt, wurde von Otto Kaiser und seinem liberalen, forschenden Geist und seinen weitgespannten Beziehungen in die Fachwelten nachhaltig geprägt.

Die Resonanz auf sein Wirken und seine Persönlichkeit lassen sich nicht zuletzt daran ablesen, dass er mit der John-Burkit-Medal der British Academy ausgezeichnet wurde, korrespondierendes Mitglied der Göttinger Akademie der Wissenschaften war, und ihm die Theologischen Fakultäten in Jena (1991) und Tartu (1996) sowie die Katholische Fakultät der Universität zu Salzburg (2002) die Ehrendoktorwürde verliehen.

Jürgen van Oorschot,
Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft.

The #GOPTaxScam

Dear GOP Senators and Congressmen,

I was afraid the 1% and Congress would be hurt by the bill you’re putting together. It’s such a relief to know that only the middle and lower classes will be.   Thanks so much Senator Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker.   You guys are real heroes to the super rich. I just hope you don’t have to stay in office to see the death and destruction you’ll cause.

On The Anniversary of James Barr’s Death

It was the 14th of October, 2006 (it doesn’t seem like it has been 11 years) that James Barr, one of the most brilliant Old Testament scholars of our day (or any day) died.    Academically speaking, he’s my grandpa.  Both of my major Professors in Seminary, Sam Balentine and John Durham studied with Barr at Oxford.

All those who knew Professor Barr were forever changed by the encounter.  May his name continue to be a blessing and his work an influence.