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January 1975 · Vol. 4 No. 1 · pp. 264–68 

Tributes to D. Edmond Hiebert

R. M. Baerg et al

COLLEAGUES

A scholar’s life is wearying at best, but in Dr. D. Edmond Hiebert’s case additional problems related to the loss of hearing at middle age were added to the normal tasks of his office as teacher, author, and preacher.

My first acquaintance with Dr. Hiebert was at Tabor College in the Fall of 1947 when I finished my last year of College and was asked to substitute for him in Elementary Greek. Little did I realize that this would be the beginning of further associations with him as colleague at the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary some twelve years later. During our co-labors in Seminary, I have come to know him as a prince among New Testament scholars, particularly of the Greek New Testament. He is, moreover, a careful and meticulous author of several books, each of which is of great help to the student of the Scriptures.

As a scholar, he is seen early at his work, and with indefatigable zeal and zest he pursues his painstaking studies day after day and year after year. As to his proficiency at teaching, students invariably acclaim him among the greatest! His instructions are so clear and anticipate so well the questions a student may have that little difficulty, if any, exists in the manner of communication.

However highly I personally esteem Dr. Hiebert as a scholar and teacher, he is “a beloved brother” in the Lord. His genuinely warm spirit and his generous, Christ-like, appreciation of people, make him easily approachable. He bears upon his heart the deepest concerns for his students.

Dr. Hiebert has come to see his many students as inheritors of a biblical trust. He has helped them to many lucid insights that make effective their ministry in the interpretation of Holy Scriptures.

Having lived through the greater part of this century, Dr. Hiebert has not only survived the frightening age of theological aberrations with its octopus-like ideologies of existential liberalism, but he has pursued his studies of the Word of God without yielding to the popular notions of theological relativities. Dr. Hiebert towers among God’s men as a man of intellectual power and spiritual warmth that are rooted in a vital relationship with Jesus Christ, whom he loves, and nurtured by the Holy Scriptures, which are his sole delight.

As a former colleague of his, I salute Dr. Hiebert upon his 20th year of ministry with the Seminary as an example of one in whom the grace of our Lord has made weakness become strength!

R. M. Baerg,
Pastor
Mennonite Brethren Church
Dinuba, California {265}

For the past twenty years seminarians have met in the halls a pleasant, courteous, man who greeted them with a smile and an encouraging word. This Christian gentleman and scholar, Dr. D. Edmond Hiebert, has endeared himself to several generations of students and is beloved by his colleagues.

I was one of his first students at the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in 1955 and have since been associated with Dr. Hiebert as his friend, pastor, and, most recently, colleague in the Seminary faculty.

In class he communicated to me a deep devotion to Christ and to the Word. He stressed precision in exegesis. His thorough preparation for class was coupled with a spirit of warmth and understanding for his students. I notice that even now his teaching retains a freshness, for he prepares diligently, no matter how often he has taught a course.

He is methodical in teaching and disciplined in his studies. He is punctual in meeting his commitments; for him to be tardy to class is unthinkable. I especially like his erect and dignified bearing; yet he is unassuming of manner.

As his pastor I was impressed by his support of me personally when I was an inexperienced minister and by the regularity of his attendance at services in spite of his hearing handicap. He was one of the few who rarely missed the Tuesday morning men’s prayer meeting. His handshake following the service together with his “Thank you, Pastor,” even when the sermon was far less than polished and the exegesis not what it might have been, offered me strong support.

As his colleague I have great admiration for his scholarship and personal piety. His books on the New Testament have been well received by the Christian public. It is gratifying to me to learn that he will be completing a multi-volume introduction to the New Testament. His theological stance is conservative, but it is not a blind conservatism since he is aware of the wide range of views that exist. His commitment to the infallible Word of God is unambiguous. In addition to books, he has contributed to Bible dictionaries and served as consultant for a new Bible translation, The New International Version. He has often written devotionals and popular Bible exposition articles for the denomination’s periodicals. For eleven years he edited the Sunday school quarterly.

His precision in factual data became evident to me when on a tour of the Middle East in 1968 he was able to identify historical sites and frequently pointed out items of interest beyond the information given by the guide.

He has been God’s gift to the Mennonite Brethren brotherhood and to the English-speaking evangelical world. Through his written contribution he has shaped the thinking of a constituency. His hearing handicap has been redemptive, for, like Paul’s letters from prison, his message has taken the enduring form of print—as it might not have done save for a measure of confinement. {266}

“Let us now praise famous men,” said the ancient writer. Dr. D. Edmond Hiebert is deserving of honor. He lives among us as a man of spiritual stature and grace.

Elmer A. Martens
Professor of Old Testament
Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary
Fresno, California

SCHOLARS

While our generation has produced many notable scholars, few have achieved excellence in writing biblical commentaries from the standpoint of evangelical theology. The tendency has been in religious literature to discuss the views of men rather than the inspired Word of God. Dr. D. Edmond Hiebert has manifested extraordinary gifts as a leading scholar in the field of biblical exegesis. In his writings he has shown thorough research, a comprehensive review of pertinent literature, and, more importantly, a penetrating discernment of the precise meaning of the scriptural text. He has combined depth in scholarship with practical application and has manifested an ability to communicate the results of his study in an understandable way. His works have benefited both the scholar and the lay reader and have served to provide a solid basis for interpreting Scripture for a generation which has deviated more from biblical truth than any generation in the past. God has raised up men such as Dr. Hiebert to provide a sure word in an age that is groping for eternal truth.

John F. Walvoord
President
Dallas Theological Seminary
Dallas, Texas

Having used Dr. Hiebert’s books, An Introduction to the Pauline Epistles and An Introduction to the Non-Pauline Epistles, in two schools, I can say that the best commendation is the response given by the students themselves who, having used one book, ask: “Has Dr. Hiebert written on the rest of the New Testament?” With such a statement they are saying, “I like what I have and want to secure more. “

His “Suggested Study Procedure” stated in the Introduction to the Non-Pauline Epistles (pp. 25-30) is, I have found through experience, the exact way a person must proceed if he is to master any book of Scripture. It is clear that Dr. Hiebert has applied his own principles of procedure and that what is written about each book is the result of such an approach. As a skilled master he has given, not the process, but the results of his labors. As such, the outlines he incorporates at the end of each book are an independent witness of the method involved and enable the student to see a finished product. Dr. Hiebert makes no attempt to claim that his outlines convey the last and final word on the way a book may be analyzed—and neither does the student receive in any way this feeling—but rather there is conveyed to the student the concept, “You can do it also, and here is proof: I did it!” {267}

Very helpful in the bibliographies given in connection with each book of Scripture are Dr. Hiebert’s own comments about the book listed and the exact nature and contribution it may make to the student who desires further study. This enables the student to discern at once how valuable a particular book would be to him either to read or to acquire for his personal library, depending upon his knowledge of the original language or lack of it and his future needs in service for the Lord Jesus Christ.

By far the greatest contribution Dr. Hiebert has made is his treatment of the introductory material to the books themselves. As a stalwart conservative he is saying loudly and clearly: “We do not have to give place to liberalism.” Following a logical pattern that is easy for the student to follow, his treatment of each book deals realistically with the issues involved and seeks to meet them head-on with positive answers. While others may not agree with all of the conclusions reached, none can make a charge against Dr. Hiebert of not seeking to present all the facts and drawing from them a logical conclusion, all within a spirit of graciousness and love.

Yet there is something else about Dr. Hiebert’s treatment of these books that is not as easily definable but is present nevertheless. It is that which makes his introductory material preferable to that of other books that deal with the same facts. Within Dr. Hiebert’s writing is a spiritual tone that is conveyed to the reader. What is stated is not so much material that needs to be learned in order to pass a course, but material that is a vital help to understanding a part of the Scriptures of the Living God: this is the background that produced it, these are the errors and problems that necessitated it, this is the man that the Spirit of God used to write it to these people who needed it, and this is the history that followed it. Emphasis upon theme, key words, characteristics, style, and the like, all unite together in enabling the student to learn, not so many facts about history and canon, author and book, but about the Word that is to his soul the bread of life.

May the Spirit of God continue to use these books in training others who will reproduce other books like them for the edifying of the body of Christ.

John W. Lawrence
Multnomah School of the Bible
Oregon

STUDENTS

My first meeting with Dr. Hiebert was at Hartland where he spoke in chapel. I was astounded to hear that he was an instructor, and a successful one, in spite of his affliction. That quarter I signed up for “Prison Epistles” with a few doubts; they were soon replaced by great respect and Christian love. During one class Dr. Hiebert’s presentation on “putting on the whole armor of God” so inspired me that I was led to preach that subject the following Sunday. I have preached that subject many times before, but because of the ideas gained under Dr. Hiebert’s ministry in class even my wife was enthusiastic about {268} the sermon that day, and as a direct result of that message seven people accepted the Lord Jesus.

I have incorporated Dr. Hiebert’s teaching into many of my messages since then, always with good results. He has been a real blessing to my pastoral ministry and will continue to be in years to come as I refer to my class notes.

Jack Powell, Jr.

I wish to express with deep appreciation my thankfulness to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for His work in the life of this dedicated student of the Word, fellow worker, and teacher, Dr. D. Edmond Hiebert.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

The above injunction so often heard from the lips of Dr. Hiebert demonstrated in multiple forms his unending search of the Scriptures as the travel-aide in life’s way. His desire first and foremost appeared to be one of presenting himself approved before God and not men.

The life I witnessed which grew out of that search in God’s Word is that of a man who has no cause to be ashamed of his life’s work. Rather, Dr. Hiebert’s life and teaching present him as one of God’s men who has kept a straight course with the message of the truth.

Dwight Friesen

I am grateful for the opportunity and privilege that I have had to study God’s Word under the guidance and instruction of Dr. D. Edmond Hiebert.

In Dr. Hiebert’s classes the scriptures truly came alive. His ability to ‘exegete’ difficult New Testament passages, his obvious concern and interest in his students, his deep respect and love for the Bible, and his personal commitment to Christ and His church have all challenged me to strive for greater effectiveness and dedication in my service to God.

Through his teaching ministry, Dr. Hiebert has made a lasting contribution, not only in his own denominational constituency, but also in a much larger, growing, Christian community. His influence will be felt for many years, both in the continuing ministries of his many former students and through the numerous books and articles that he has written.

Our. prayer is that our Heavenly Father will give to Dr. Hiebert many additional years of health and fruitful service. As his former students, we pray that we too may serve our Master and Lord with the enthusiasm and dedication that we have seen demonstrated in the life and ministry of our teacher and friend, Dr. D. Edmond Hiebert.

Arnie N. Neufeld

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