Edgar M. Krentz, Christ Seminar-Seminex Professor Emeritus of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), died Oct. 31. He was 93 years old. He was a beloved professor, pastor, archaeologist, scholar and poet. In over 60 years of teaching, Krentz helped to shape the lives and ministries of thousands of students. A memorial service will be held Saturday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. CST at Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave., Chicago. The service will be livestreamed on the church's Facebook page.
“We give thanks for the witness of our dear colleague, teacher, and friend Edgar Krentz. His faithfulness and many gifts have strengthened LSTC as an educational institution. His departure from this mortal life on Reformation Day is most appropriate given his commitment to the Lutheran church and its ongoing reformation,” said Esther Menn, dean of academic affairs and Ralph W. and Marilyn R. Klein Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible.
“Edgar Krentz was a faithful servant of Christ, an exemplary teacher, and a dedicated scholar. The breadth and depth of his knowledge was impressive,” said Kurt K. Hendel, interim director of Advanced Studies and Bernard, Fischer, Westberg Distinguished Ministry Professor Emeritus of Reformation History. “He loved the written word, particularly Scripture, and especially the gospel. His exegesis of the scriptural texts was enhanced by his archeological insights and his extensive engagement with Greco-Roman philosophy and Mediterranean culture. He deeply appreciated the liturgy as well as the diverse artistic heritage of the church. His ecumenical consciousness was accompanied by a commitment to the Lutheran confessional tradition.”
Hendel added, “Edgar Krentz loved to teach and invited his students to join him in the joyous but also challenging adventure of academic study. All who accepted that invitation were deeply enriched. He was a beloved friend and admired colleague. I was privileged to learn from and to serve with him, and I will remember him with deep respect and much gratitude.”
Krentz was the author of the influential The Historical-Critical Method as well as numerous articles about biblical interpretation. He experienced the split in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod over religious issues in the early 1970s while teaching at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He resigned from Concordia and joined students and other faculty members in their own seminary in exile.
Born in 1928, the son of a minister in rural Michigan, Krentz received an MDiv from Concordia Seminary in 1952, an MA from Washington University, St. Louis,Mo., the following year, and a PhD in classics from Washington University in 1960. From 1953-75 he taught at Concordia. Known for his love of books, he also served as librarian there from 1954-1964. In 1957 he was ordained and he served as an assistant pastor at several churches in Missouri. In 1963 he spent a sabbatical year at the University of Tübingen, Germany, where Ernst Käsemann taught him that it was possible to combine committed Lutheranism with radical New Testament interpretation, a position he adopted for the rest of his career.
In 1975, he joined the faculty of Christ Seminary—Seminex, and in 1983 Krentz moved to LSTC with other Seminex faculty. He retired in 1998 but continued to teach part-time as a professor emeritus (his students affectionately referred to his early-morning New Testament Greek tutorial as “Rambo Greek”). In retirement, he also taught at Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Conn., Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, Calif., Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., and Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Ill. He also continued to teach adult Bible classes at various churches in or near Chicago.
Krentz became an archeologist in 1971, excavating for nine summer seasons at Caesarea Maritima, Israel. From 1978 until 1990 he served on the Standing Committee on Studies of the Lutheran World Federation, which met in countries all over the world: Brazil, East Germany, Hungary, the Philippines, Sweden, and Switzerland.
He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Marion (Becky) Krentz; six children, Peter (Jeri) of Davidson, N.C., Michael (Linda) of Bethlehem, Pa., Elizabeth (Sam, deceased 2012) of Cornwall Bridge, Conn., Susanna (Scott) of Chicago, Matthew (Erin) of Park City, Utah, Christopher (Michelle) of Charlottesville, Va.; thirteen grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. The family has requested that memorials be made to Augustana Lutheran Church or to LSTC.
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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.