Millard Lind remembered for gentleness and passion

Published: April 29, 2015

Mary E. Klassen

Millard Lind, scholar, pastor, writer and professor emeritus of Old Testament at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, is described in two ways by former colleagues and student: gentle and passionate.

Lind, age 96, died on Saturday, April 25, 2015, at his home in Goshen, Ind.
Janeen Bertsche Johnson, AMBS campus pastor, was a student of Lind’s in the 1980s. She said, “I remember Millard’s gentle, thoughtful way of teaching. He took students seriously, and would patiently explain his perspectives on their questions.”

Ben Ollenburger, who as professor of biblical theology now teaches many Old Testament courses at AMBS, reflected, “Millard Lind was the pioneer among Mennonites in Old Testament scholarship. His commitment to the church and its Lord was firm, and his scholarship was first class. While sometimes seeming to be the classic absent-minded professor, Millard had an exceedingly sharp, creative mind, and he exercised it well.”

Willard Swartley, professor emeritus of New Testament and a colleague of Lind’s at AMBS, said, “Millard Lind was a much loved teacher and scholar. He was a great conversationalist in the AMBS lounge and over lunch: full of surprises on this or that topic. His lecture method was distinctive: first half on Ancient Near Eastern backgrounds for a given topic, and then building up to a distinctive view of the OT Scripture on the topic under discussion.”

Jacob Elias, professor emeritus of New Testament, shared about a recent encounter with Millard in Goshen: “By the time we parted we had discussed cogent themes from both the prophet Ezekiel and the apostle Paul. The twinkle in his eyes reminded me of his pastoral interest in me as a student and again later as a colleague. In physical stature he was short, but in his quiet and persistent way he conveyed a deep love for the Scriptures and a passionate commitment to the peacemaking mission of the people of God.”

Daniel Schipani, professor of pastoral care, also remembers Millard as a gifted professor. He said, “In addition to his considerable knowledge of the subject matter strictly speaking, he always shared generously and in inspiring ways from a wisdom that blended love of God, passion for the church, commitment to the Bible as the main text of God’s people, and unfailing dedication as a theological educator.”

Lind began seminary teaching in 1959 at Goshen Biblical Seminary, one of the two schools that formed AMBS. He was named professor emeritus in 1992 and taught for the last time in 1998. The theme that defined his vocation was that God’s chosen people in the ancient Near East adored Yahweh, he said in a 1992 interview. Yahweh is a God of family love, not of the power politics that plagued the region. This theme was the foundation of Millard’s teaching and writing over a long career that started with congregational ministry and included writing and editing as well as teaching.

Lind received a B.A. from Goshen College in 1942 and a Bachelor of Divinity from GBS in 1944. At the age of 45, and with seven children, he earned a Doctor of Theology degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1964. His ministry including serving as a pastor in Pennsylvania and Indiana as well as writing curriculum materials and editing Christian Living for Herald Press before he joined the AMBS faculty.

Several significant books by Lind reflect his interests and scholarship in the Old Testament and particularly in issues of war, peace and justice. These include Yahweh is a warrior: The theology of warfare in ancient Israel (Herald Press, 1980), The sound of sheer silence and the killing state: The death penalty and the Bible (Cascadia, 2004); Monotheism, Power, Justice: Collected Old Testament Essays (IMS, 1990) and Ezekiel in the Believers Church Bible Commentary series (Herald Press, 1996).

Just two years ago, the seminary celebrated with Lind the conclusion of an eight-year project, the translation from German to English of a book on Isaiah by Ulrich Berges, a professor at the University of Bonn. His work, The Book of Isaiah: Its Composition and Final Form, was published by Sheffield Phoenix Press in 2012.

Lind was born in Bakersfield, California on October 10, 1918 to Norman A. and Sarah Flohr Lind, and was married to Miriam Sieber Lind on April 17, 1943, in Goshen. He is survived by his children and their spouses: Dan and Anne (Lehman) Lind of Goshen, Jonathan and Anda (Stamm) Lind of Manassas, Va., Timothy and Suzanne (Hilty) Lind of Three Rivers, Mich., Matthew and Kathy (McCabe) Lind of Goshen, James and Kate (Hodgson) Lind of Three Rivers, Sarah Lind and James Rhem of Madison, Wisc., and Dirk Vardaman of Goshen. Also surviving are eighteen grandchildren and sixteen great-grandchildren.

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