Elmer Martens Festschrift celebrated

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Book honors contributions of Old Testament scholar

MB Biblical Seminary recently celebrated the release of The Old Testament in the Life of God's People. The Festschrift—a collection of essays written and compiled in honor of a scholar and presented during the scholar’s lifetime—celebrates Elmer Martens, president emeritus and Old Testament professor emeritus at MBBS and his contribution to Old Testament studies.

The book includes three essays written by Martens as well as 15 others written by former students, colleagues, friends and even one of his professors.Jon Isaak, former student of Martens and now associate professor of New Testament at MBBS, initiated the project. “I wanted to honor him, to find a way to give tribute to his lifetime of work,” says Isaak.

During the April 3 celebration, Martens reflected on his 50-year ministry as scholar, mentor and churchman. He highlighted his years at the seminary, first as a student, then as teacher, administrator and president. Martens observed that it is not the purpose of a teacher to replicate himself but to assist students to be competent as informed thinkers. He alluded to the challenges of exegeting the Old Testament and preaching from it.

Martens said he was both honored and humbled by the event and acknowledged the efforts that went into producing the book, especially the diligent work of the editor. The book, he noted, “is a work of Biblical interpretation, a potential help to the church, and stands as a credit to the seminary.”

The essays are clustered around three topics—Christian use of the Old Testament, Aligning God’s people with God’s call for Justice, and Addressing the issue of Land in the Life of God’s People—each of which is an area of interest to Martens and is reflected in his own publications.

Among the essayists are former students, Marlene Enns (Paraguay), Douglas Carew (Kenya), Lynn Jost, Ben Ollenburger, Timothy Geddert and Alfred Neufeld (Paraguay); teaching colleagues, John E. Toews and Pierre Gilbert; and Old Testament scholars Gordon Matties and Waldemar Janzen (Canada), Daniel Block, Paul House, Walter Kaiser and Rolf Knierim. —MBBS news story

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