Sunday, May 08, 2016

George M. Landes, 1928 - 2016


Our world is now a poorer place with the loss of one of my favorite former mentors and colleagues at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, Dr. George Landes, a great scholar, great teacher, and a kind and steady leader. Above is a photo of me as a young assistant professor with George at a UTS graduation in the early 1990s. The following obituary was written by George's wife Carol and is posted at Legacy.com:

Old Testament Biblical Scholar and Presbyterian Minister, The Rev. Dr. George M. Landes, Sr., 87, passed away at the Inpatient Hospice Unit at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Allentown on Thursday, April 7, 2016. Son of the late George Y. and Margaret B. (Fizzell) Landes, he was born in Kansas City, MO on August 2, 1928, educated in Kansas City schools and graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia, MO with a B.A. in philosophy in 1949 and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Called to the Presbyterian Ministry, he attended McCormick Theological Seminary where he earned his M.Div. degree in 1952 and was awarded the Nettie F. McCormick Fellowship for further graduate study. He entered doctoral work under Prof. W. F. Albright at Johns Hopkins University from which he received his Ph.D in Old Testament and Semitic Studies in 1956. Dr. Landes was called to the faculty of Union Theological Seminary, NY in 1956 as Instructor in Old Testament. He advanced through the academic ranks and in 1970 was appointed Professor of Old Testament. In 1972 he was appointed to the Baldwin Chair in Sacred Literature, and in 1981 to the Davenport Chair in Hebrew and the Cognate Languages, from which he retired in 1995 as the Davenport Professor Emeritus and moved to the Lehigh Valley. Dr. Landes' early interest was in Palestinian Archaeology, which he taught at Union. On sabbatical in 1962 he joined the Drew-McCormick expedition to Tel Balata (ancient Shechem), where he studied ancient pottery and prepared it for shipment back to the states and eventual publication. He was Field Supervisor on the expedition to Araq el-Emir in Jordan. On sabbatical leave in 1967-68 he was appointed Annual Professor of the American Schools of Oriental Research, now The Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem. During that year he was Archaeological Director at Suwanneteth-Thaniya in the Jordan Valley and did site survey work in the area of ancient Shechem. Dr. Landes shifted his primary focus from Palestinian Archaeology to Biblical Exegesis, which he also taught at Union. During his 39 year career at Union he taught Hebrew and Hebrew exegesis, as well as many other Old Testament subjects, and became fascinated with the book of Jonah, to which he devoted a large portion of his published works. He authored many scholarly publications, far too many to enumerate here, and contributed to several of his Jewish and Christian colleagues' Festschrifts. In 1961 Dr. Landes published his book, "A Student's Vocabulary of Biblical Literature," which remained in print for 40 years. During retirement a new, much revised and expanded edition titled "Building Your Hebrew Vocabulary: Learning Words by Frequency and Cognate" was published. Dr. Landes has received many honors during his career and in retirement was presented with his own Festschrift (1999), titled _On the Way to Ninevah: Studies in Honor of George M. Landes_. He was one of the team of Old and New Testament Scholars who translated the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, published in 1989. He was a member of various academic, religious and other boards, was guest lecturer at McCormick Theological Seminary and at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He was Visiting Professor of Hebrew at both Princeton and Moravian Theological Seminaries in retirement. As an ordained Presbyterian Minister, he served Second and Govans Presbyterian Churches in Baltimore. During his tenure at Union he served on NYC Presbyteries Preparation for Ministry Committee, lectured and preached at various churches and was Parish Associate at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, NYC. At First Presbyterian Church in Allentown Dr. Landes taught Adult Education Classes and was also a Parish Associate.

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