Saturday, February 17, 2007

The teacher's voice

Word has come that Dr. Bruce Metzger has died. He was the only person I've met whose name is actually published in my Bible. He was only 93 when he died.

Dr. Metzger was a legend at Princeton Theological Seminary. A graduate of the Class of 1938, he taught the New Testament to hundreds of students. He chaired the translation committee for the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, an enormous undertaking that shaped Protestantism for the past fifty years.

When I took two classes from him in the early 1980's, he treated us to adventure stories from his work on the New Revised Standard Version, for which he also chaired the committee for the National Council of Churches. Apparently he had a file filled with hate mail, mostly from silly people who declared, "If the King James Bible was good enough for St. Paul, it's good enough for me."

What do I remember most about Dr. Metzger? His encyclopedic memory. His clear lectures. His calm prayers before class. His extraordinary scholarship. His gentle smile. His killer exams. Most of all, I remember his deep love of scripture. It was written upon his heart, and testified to his faith in God.

We took off our shoes for the final lecture of his teaching career and left them outside the lecture hall. Whenever Bruce Metzger taught the Bible, it was holy ground.

May the teacher's voice continue.

To read more about his extraordinary ministry of teaching, click here.

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