Sunday, October 07, 2007

More on the Passing of Dr. Theodor M. Mauch

Prof. Theodor M. Mauch
[The above photo of Prof. Mauch was apparently shot ca. 1958, four years before I was born, and over twenty years before I studied with him at Trinity College, CT. So far, it is the only photo I have been able to get my hands on, although the communications office at Trinity is looking for one for me. ]

I promised more on the passing of one of my college professors of Old Testament, Dr. Ted Mauch, and I recently learned that the Trinity College WebSite has published an obituary, relying strongly on input from Dr. John A. Gettier, his longtime colleague and friend. To access the article, click here. The text reads as follows:

Theodor M. Mauch, Professor of Religion and Ellsworth Tracy Lecturer, Emeritus, died at his home on Cape Cod on Sunday, August 19.

A graduate of Elmhurst College, he went on to study at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, from which he received three degrees: B.D., STM, and Th.D. During his graduate study, he spent a year at the University of Heidleberg, Germany. At Union he studied with James Muilenburg, one of the great biblical scholars of the 20th century. Under Muilenburg, Prof. Mauch devoted himself to Second Isaiah, writing his thesis on that section of the Old Testament and devoting much of his subsequent teaching to that subject.

He began his teaching career at Wellesley College and was invited to join the Trinity faculty in 1957, where he taught until his retirement in 1987. Over three decades, he brought the biblical text alive for his undergraduate students, teaching such renowned Trinity courses as “Major Motifs of Biblical Thought” and “Major Figures of the Bible.” With more than 200 students in his classes many semesters, he enjoyed, as a Red Sox enthusiast, bringing the sports metaphor into the classroom. He was also known for his unexpected bursts of enthusiasm, as Professor of Religion, Emeritus, John Gettier recalls, “whether jumping on top of the desk to challenge the Philistines or running around the room in search of a watering hole for the wandering Israelites.”

An avid gardener, he was known to go from office to office, all around campus, sharing his fresh fruits and vegetables with all members of the Trinity community. “He loved Trinity, and bringing his growings to campus was one of the ways in which he fostered the community,” explains Gettier. “He also stood outside the door of faculty meetings to give each faculty member one cherry tomato and then tracked down the cleaning staff of our building to see that each person had some goodies to take home to their families.”

A memorial service for Prof. Mauch will be held in April 2008.

Dr. John Gettier and I have had some brief email correspondence about Dr. Mauch. Here are some excerpts, giving a few of my thoughts:

I never had the honor of meeting James Muilenburg, but through Prof. Mauch and his love of Isaiah's poems and rhetoric, I feel I knew Muilenburg indirectly. I think both had a unique way of incarnating or embodying the very spirit of the Hebrew Bible and its characters. I looked up the little verset that the Trinity Religion Majors of 1984 wrote about Prof. Mauch on our religion retreat: You, Dr. Mauch, picked us flowers right away / And stoked up our fire, which burned through the day / You gave grace in Hebrew, and then later translated / The continuous applause showed how well it was stated / Isaiah 55 touched us all very deep / With a moment of friendship we shall always keep //

I shared the news this morning with my faculty colleague in NT, Tony Lewis, a Trinity alum who also knew Prof. Mauch. Tony's memory was of Ted's active work with social justice, which Tony remembers him pursuing with a young Trinity student, quite liberal at the time, named George Will! Of course, that was before I arrived on campus...

John wrote back and shared some lovely reminiscences about Ted. I hope he won't mind if I quote one paragraph:

When I was a young teacher, Ted taught me so much. Most importantly, he conveyed that teaching, at least at the undergraduate level, is not just about scholarship, but about touching the human heart. We teach human beings, not heads. It all bothered me at first, but then I realized he was not about preaching but about opening the entire person to the wonders of the text - and then letting him/her enjoy it as she or he would. He was amazingly tolerant and patient, giving unlimited time so that a single student might appreciate one small nugget of the text. That accomplished, he was in ecstasy. How many of his student must still revel in what they learned from him and what he stands for in their lives.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

my mother graduated Wellesley in 1956, and that means there is a fair chance she took his classes. i'll see if that's true!

Sun Oct 07, 09:27:00 PM GMT-5  

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