Frederick W. Danker, professor emeritus of New Testament, dies February 3, 2012

Frederick W. Danker, Christ Seminary-Seminex Professor Emeritus of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), died February 2, 2012, in St. Louis, Mo. He was 91 years old.

Professor Danker is known as one of the world’s premier classicists and Greek lexicographers. He is best known for his thorough revision of the English version of Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature published by the University of Chicago Press in 2000. In 2009 he published The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (University of Chicago Press). Both works are considered indispensable to students and scholars of Greek.

“His edition of the great lexicon of the Greek New Testament will be a lasting monument. Fred was one of the last New Testament scholars to control both ancient Greek and Latin literature. He worked from the original texts, not from translations,” said colleague Edgar Krentz, Christ Seminary-Seminex Professor Emeritus of New Testament at LSTC.

LSTC’s Interim President Philip L. Hougen said, “Professor Danker’s scholarship, teaching, and leadership were great gifts to the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He was an extremely popular professor, known for both his expertise and for his concern for his students. He demonstrated the best of academic accomplishment in combination with Christian commitment. He was a world-class scholar and a great influence on leaders in the church.”

Teacher and scholar

A 1950 graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Frederick Danker was ordained that year and served a congregation near Frankenmuth, Mich. He joined the Concordia Seminary faculty in 1954 and earned a Ph.D. in classical studies at the University of Chicago. In 1974 he and his brother William Danker, a professor of missiology, were among the 45 Concordia faculty members fired in a controversy over biblical interpretation. In 1983, Dr. Danker and his wife, Lois, moved to Chicago when 10 members of Christ Seminary-Seminex faculty were deployed to LSTC.

Dr. Danker retired in 1988 and spent the next 12 years working on the revision of Bauer’s Greek-English lexicon. During those years, he is reported to have worked from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., six days a week on the book. More than 20% of that work was Danker’s original material incorporating new archeological findings that would more accurately reflect the meaning the early Christian writers intended.

The 2000 edition of Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature was Danker’s fifteenth book. Other important works include Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study (Concordia Publishing House, first published in 1960); Jesus and the New Age, according to St. Luke, a Commentary on the Third Gospel (Clayton Publishing House, 1972); and Benefactor: an Epigraphic Study of a Graeco-Roman New Testament and Semantic Field (Clayton Publishing House, 1982).

A memorial service for Frederick W. Danker will be held Saturday, February 18 at 2 p.m. at Bethel Lutheran Church, 7001 Forsyth Blvd., University City, Mo.  He was preceded in death by his wife, Lois; and brother, the Rev. Dr. William Danker. He is survived by his daughter, Kathie Danker.


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Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs

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The Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) is dedicated to bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it is the leading urban Lutheran seminary training students for purposeful vocations in the global community. Aligned with its Lutheran heritage and built on a foundation of intellectual rigor, LSTC’s innovative, nationally recognized curriculum gives students skills for visionary Christian leadership in the public sphere.

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