Sunday, November 08, 2015

Frank-Lothar Hossfeld 1942–2015

I was very sad to learn today of the passing of Frank-Lothar Hossfeld. His insights were a significant help when I was writing my dissertation in the early 90's and I instantly loved his personality when I interacted with him later at the international SBL meetings. Here is a brief bio: Prof. (emeritus) Dr. Frank-Lothar Hossfeld of the University of Bonn passed away on Monday November 2, 2015, after a long illness. Professor Hossfeld was born in Metz (France) on June 19, 1942. He read philosophy and theology in Trier and Wuerzburg. After his ordination in 1966 he served as a catholic priest in a village in the diocese of Trier until 1969 when he started to work on his doctoral dissertation under the supervision of Heinrich Groß at the University of Regensburg. His “Untersuchungen zu Komposition und Theologie des Ezechielbuches” (submitted 1976, published Wuerzburg 1977) was an influential contribution to the field. From 1973–1982 Professor Hossfeld worked with Erich Zenger at the University of Muenster where he prepared his Habilitationsschrift on “Der Dekalog. Seine späten Fassungen, die originale Komposition und seine Vorstufen” (submitted 1981; published Fribourg 1982) which still is a landmark in scholarship on the Pentateuch and its redactional development. From 1982 until his retirement in 2009 he was Professor for Old Testament at the Department of Catholic Theology at the University of Bonn. From 1986–1988 he was dean of the department and represented it in the university for many years as a member of the senate. As a member of the review board of the German research funding organization (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) he served the scholarly community for many years and with great exertion and a well-recognized expertise. He was an eloquent member of many important ecumenical committees of theologians – catholic and protestant, Jewish and Christian. Professor Hossfeld was a highly accomplished academic teacher. When supervising his students he was a tireless dialog partner, relentlessly asking for exegetical arguments and considering theological consequences. At the same time he was committed to the personal concerns of his students and had a wonderful sense of humour. Six of his former students now hold chairs of old testament studies in Germany. After his important contributions to the scholarship on Ezekiel and the Pentateuch – fields that he continued to research – he devoted nearly thirty years to work on the psalms and the redactional development of the Psalter. Together with Erich Zenger he published the commentary on the complete Psalter in the NEB series and the commentary on Ps 51–150 in the HThK series. It was translated into English for the Hermeneia series. The work on the psalms brought him in closer contact to colleagues from the US – a scholarly exchange which was very precious to him during the last years of his life. The scholarly community has lost one of its most distinguished members and a great moderator. Those who knew him have lost a man who was both witty and upright, a wise counsellor, a loyal and faithful friend and a priest deeply rooted in the faith in the God and father of Christ of whom the Hebrew Bible speaks in so many different ways.