Renowned Hebrew scholar to join Southeastern Seminary’s faculty
Posted on Apr 19, 1999 | by Byron Scott McMillan
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)--A prolific author, Hebrew scholar and Bible translator has been named professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
John H. Sailhamer, the Author B. Whiting Professor of Hebrew Scriptures at Western Seminary, Portland, Ore., will join the faculty at the Wake Forest, N.C., seminary in August, Southeastern Seminary President Paige Patterson announced April 12.
Sailhamer served as scholar in residence at Northwestern College, St. Paul, Minn., from 1995-98. Dating back to 1975, he has taught Old Testament, Hebrew, Semitic languages and theology as associate professor at five other theological institutions, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Ill; Bethel Theological Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.; Bethel College, St. Paul Minn.; Biola College (University), La Mirada, Calif.; and Los Angeles Baptist College, Newhall, Calif.
Patterson described Sailhamer as “deeply devotionally minded” and “one fabulous scholar” who is universally respected in the field of theological education for his expertise in the Semitic languages, including Arabic.
Patterson said Sailhamer represents a major step forward for both the Old Testament and Ph.D. programs at Southeastern. “We are grateful to God for putting into the heart of a scholar of Dr. Sailhamer’s reputation and ability the desire to adopt Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary,” Patterson said.
Sailhamer earned a doctorate in philosophy in ancient Near East languages and literature (Northwest Semitics) from the University of California at Los Angeles. He also received his master of arts degree in Semitic languages from UCLA and a master of theology in Old Testament from Dallas Theological Seminary.
Before his theological training, Sailhamer earned a bachelor of arts in journalism from California State University at Long Beach. Following graduation, he worked as a rewrite and general assignment reporter for the Dallas Morning News.
Over the past five years, Sailhamer has served as adjunct and visiting professor at several schools, including: Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia; Fuller Theological Seminary, School of World Mission, Pasadena, Calif.; Bethel Theological Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.; North Park Seminary, Chicago; and Philadelphia College of Bible. He is currently a member of The Living Bible Revision Committee dealing with the Book of Genesis.
A prolific author, Sailhamer has written nearly 20 books. In 1998, Zondervan published a Quick Reference Library series written by Sailhamer on the following subjects: The books of the Bible; Christian theology; biblical prophecy; “How We Got Our Bible;” Old Testament history; biblical archaeology and the life of Christ.
Some of Sailhamer’s other published works include: “An Introduction to Old Testament Theology,” Zondervan (1995); “The Pentateuch as Narrative, A Biblical-Theological Commentary,” Zondervan (1992); “The Translational Technique of the Septuagint Psalms 3-41 for the Verbs and Participles,” Peter Lang (1991); “Introduction to The New Concordance,” Baker Book (1984); “Genesis: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary,” Vol. 2, Zondervan (1990); “Genesis: The Compact Expositors’s Bible Commentary,” Vol. 1, Zondervan (1990); “Genesis Unbound,” Questar Publishers (1996), and “The NIV Compact Bible Commentary,” Zondervan (1994).
He currently is writing several books, two of which include: “Isaiah, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture” and “A Survey of the Old Testament,” both to be published by InterVarsity Press.
Sailhamer said he was attracted to Southeastern by its commitment to Scripture and clear understanding of the nature of the gospel. “It stands out in how it’s represented in the president and the students,” he said.
Having taught Hebrew to more than 1,000 students, Sailhamer remains passionate about teaching. “This is God’s Word,” he said “You can read the Bible in any translation, but there is something about evangelicals taking seriously the fact that these are the inspired words of God.” He said to read the words of God in the original languages is a rare privilege.
Sailhamer said he especially enjoyed writing The Pentateuch as Narrative, published in 1992 by Zondervan. “It was one constant discovery.” he said. “Every day I’d share things with my wife and she’d get excited. Just discovery in writing, it was a fun experience.”
Sailhamer said he looks forward to teaching students how to focus on the centrality of God’s Word and the gospel by showing how the Bible fits together from Genesis to Revelation.
“The Old Testament is saying the same thing everywhere you look,” he said. “The identity of Christ as the Messiah promised beforehand in the Hebrew Scriptures is central to the gospel.”
Sailhamer and his wife, Patty, have four children: David, 23; Elizabeth, 21; John, 19; and Peter, 17.