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John Sailhamer Enters Eternity

January 11, 2017

Back in the 80s I did doctoral work under John Sailhamer. His theology of the Pentateuch was still in the works. I got to read his commentary on Genesis in draft. He was a kind and articulate individual, and a phenomenal scholar besides. His work was genuinely creative. I still owe certain aspects of my thinking to his influence, though we disagreed (sometimes rather pointedly) in other areas. Working with John was a genuine privilege.

On one occasion he wanted a debate in class between an advocate of Dispensationalism and an advocate of Covenant Theology. Nobody else was willing to argue for Covenant Theology, so I drew the assignment. I think I could have won the debate, except for the fact that my opponent was Jim Lytle–now the president of Clarks Summit University. Lytle had the arguments down cold. I think I made a better case for Covenant Theology than most Covenant Theologians would, but Lytle demolished it anyway.

In those days Sailhamer was on a binge of watching old TV shows. He would apply their titles to sections of his lectures. For example, his treatment of Ham, Shem, and Japeth was called “My Three Sons.” He wasn’t trying to be cute; it was just the way his mind worked.

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