Last week one of my dearest professors, Dr. Harold Hoehner passed away suddenly. He was a young and fit 74 years old and planning to retire at the end of the semester. I am already missing him and regretting all the times I thought to myself, "I should really sit down with Dr. Hoeher sometime and ask him about X," but never followed through. We always think there will be time, don't we?
This tribute on the DTS website will give you an idea of what a devoted teacher, committed scholar, and kind and compassionate friend and colleague he was and you can also read the many comments and stories from former students and associates of his.
I had the privilege of taking several classes with Dr. Hoehner both at the Master's level and while working on my doctorate as well as the honor of working with him as his grader for several semesters. Because of his teaching, I have a firm understanding of the Epistle to the Romans, the book of Revelation, the writings of Josephus, and proper research procedures. To detail everything he has taught me over the years would be impossible, so in tribute to him I thought I'd share with you a few "biggies" I learned from Harold Hoehner.
1) Always be careful and thorough in working with the Biblical text. Dr. Hoehner expected excellence from his students and attention to detail was a must. Your exegesis needed to be sound, your bibliography complete, and the commas in your footnotes properly placed. This drive came from his reverence of and submission to the Word of God which he subsequently instilled in us. He was an exceptional New Testament scholar known for his extensive research of topics and he taught us to produce the same type of work. He was instrumental in gathering a topnotch faculty in the New Testament department at DTS and in developing the doctoral program. If you don't have his commentary on Ephesians; go buy it whether you can read the Greek text or not!
2) Do not fall into the trap of perfectionism and lose balance in your life. While he expected excellence from his students, he also recognized the realities of life. He rarely accepted late papers because, he said, you more than likely have the time to turn in something and when you are in the "real world" of ministry there are no extensions. If you are preaching or teaching on Sunday you can't call your congregation or class and ask to postpone until Monday when you'll be better prepared! In other words, strive do your best work and recognize when life requires you to go with what you've got.
3) Be gracious and kind to everyone. As tough a professor as he was, he was also one of the sweetest and most kind. He was as free with his compliments and praise as he was with his red marks for incorrect form in your footnotes! He always stopped to say hello, genuinely happy to see me and asking about my family. When I did good work, he was quick to commend me and even thank me for my diligence. I was always amazed to come away from a conversation feeling that he (the distinguished scholar) respected and valued (little ole) me. You know, it's not always easy being a female in a male-dominated field, and having such an accomplished "elder" invest in and honor you can make all the difference. He was simply more of an encouragement to me than I could ever communicate.
And a bonus #4) Macs are the better "machines" on the planet. But I obviously haven't learned this one yet since I'm writing this on a PC. Maybe I'll get there one day; hopefully Hoehner's too busy enjoying the presence of our Lord to be too disappointed......
I am one of thousands (or more?) who are remembering with fondness, laughter and tears our dear Dr. Hoehner this week. What a life lived to the fullest and what a legacy! Join me today in remembering his family and his friends who are greiving his death while celebrating his faithfulness.