Friday, March 25, 2011

R.C.H. Lenski (1864-1936)

Decades after its release, the 12 volume commentary series by R.C.H. Lenski still finds avid supporters.  When I graduated from the seminary over 20 years ago it would have been considered a standard resource for the new pastor.  For the most part his theology was acceptable, although there were some issues, especially with Romans and what would be termed "Objective Justification."  Lenski was born in 1864 and died over 71 years later, apparently of complications due, in part, to diabetes.  A graduate of Capital University, he earned a BA degree in 1885, and then graduated from the affiliated seminary two years later, a shortened term due to the great need for pastors in the Ohio Synod.  Like other well respected scholars highlighted on this blog in earlier posts, Lenski never received an earned doctorate.  He did receive, however, a Doctor of Divinity degree at some later time.  Nevertheless, he became, in his own time and much later, a recognized scholar on the New Testament.  Ordained in 1887, Lenski served as a parish pastor for at least 22 years in four different parishes, three of them in Ohio.  In 1909 he was elected president of the Western District of the Joint Synod of Ohio, a position in which he served for the next four years.  In 1911 he was then called to Capital University where he taught for the next 11 years.  Within 8 years he then became dean of the seminary.  Initially called as Professor of Languages, he offered courses over the years in exegesis, dogmatics, apologetics, and homiletics.  Lenski was a prolific author and a very self-motivated student of the scriptures.  Reviews of his commentaries still receive positive marks, as is evidenced by those left on Amazon.  As one who has used his books throughout my ministry, I am impressed by his attention to the intricacies of the original, being quite conversant with the tools of his time.  Obviously we can see where he would benefit from the scholarship in subsequent generations, yet even now many of his astute observations on the text benefit the student. 

Given the opportunity I would like to examine his work in a much more thorough fashion, especially his book on preaching, The Sermon: Its Homiletical Construction.   For those desiring more information I would recommend the article "Richard Charles Henry Lenski: The Exegetical Task," by Stephen Geiger.  Lenski is a model for the truly self-made scholar-pastor with a thorough love of God's Word in its original.  My efforts pale against his. 

2 comments:

Jeffrey said...

REV. DONALD V. ENGEBRETSON,

Thank you so much for caring about the Word. I too am a student of the precious Scriptures with you,and understand Lenski to be unparalleled in understanding in our approach to exegesis to the documents of the NT.

On the other hand, in reading your blog as a little concerned, did it ever occur to you that Lenski had a different gospel than the one you have hence the paleness?

how to make money said...

What I did not like about LENSKI what he did with Romans 8:18-24 equating A CREATION IN BIRTH PANGS WAITING TO BE DELIVERED EXCLUDING HUMANS.NOT FAIR TO THE TEXT. MAYBE SOMEONE CORRECTED THIS SINCE IT IS 50 YEARS A GO I READ IT.

I AM VERY CAUTIOUS WITH LENSKI HE WAS NOT ABOVE PUSHING THE PARTY LINE.OTHER THAN THIS GREAT COMMENTARY.