Bible scholar, Yale professor Abraham Malherbe dies at 82
Abraham Malherbe, the Buckingham Professor Emeritus of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale Divinity School, died from an apparent heart attack on Sept. 28. He was 82.
Malherbe, an internationally known Bible scholar, was born in South Africa and converted to Christianity by missionary Eldred Echols, we reported in a 2002 Dialogue with Malherbe. Echols encouraged Malherbe to attend Abilene Christian University in Texas. After graduation there, Malherbe studied at Harvard University and returned to teach at ACU from 1963-69.
ACU Today reports:
“Abe trained a generation of New Testament professors in the Churches of Christ, who now populate the Christian college faculties and beyond,” said Dr. Ken Cukrowski (’84), associate professor of New Testament, associate provost and interim dean of ACU’s College of Biblical Studies. “I believe there was at least a 30-year stretch where an ACU graduate was in Yale’s doctoral program in New Testament. So much of what I know, how I know, and the questions I ask, are due to him. If ever I read Scripture well, it is due to him. My appreciation is deep; my respect could not be higher; my gratitude is profound.”
“I would never have pursued an academic career if it had not been for Abe’s capacity to instill in his students a passion for learning about the New Testament and the ancient world,” said Dr. James Thompson (’64), professor of New Testament and Onstead Chair for Biblical Studies. “I will always be grateful for the new world of scholarship he opened for us, the encouragement he gave me, and for the relationship that began with my first graduate semester and ended only with his death.”
Read the full story.
In a news release, Yale University reports:
Malherbe and his wife, Phyllis, who made their home in Hamden, CT, dedicated a great deal of time and resources to support the Whitney Avenue Church of Christ in New Haven as well as a number of other churches in the area including the First Baptist Church in New Haven, which the Malherbes attended in recent years.
David Bartlett, the J. Edward and Ruth Cox Lantz Professor Emeritus of Christian Communication, said, “Abe Malherbe was the embodiment of an ancient ideal, the Christian scholar. His scholarship is known by everyone who studies New Testament as he helped bring early Christian literature into conversation with the Hellenistic philosophical writings and helped us to think about the church in its social and intellectual context. His Anchor Bible commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians will surely be the major resource for students and scholars for a very long time.
Read the full story, which includes information for memorial donations.
Here’s a snippet from our 2002 Dialogue with Malherbe, in which he addressed his concerns about Churches of Christ “cozying up to those evangelicals who put a premium on feeling at the expense of reason.”
This is not an indictment of all evangelicals, for there are differences among them. Having discovered the Holy Spirit, grace and mercy, however, evangelical priorities and language have come to suffuse much of the preaching in our fellowship.
That, combined with the style of preaching, common in all churches these days, that is narratival and anecdotal rather than expository, results in sermons that are as theologically thin gruel as are many of the so-called praise songs we sing.
It seems that the goal of many services is to achieve an emotional response without imparting biblical knowledge. When the same, non-expository approach is followed in a church’s Bible classes, any Restorationist nuance easily disappears.
See the full interview.