Dr. John G. Nordling, CTS Fort Wayne
For service at Lutheran Theological Seminary, Pretoria, South Africa
8 – 17 April 2019
I had the privilege of teaching 1 Peter (the entire letter) for nearly two weeks (8 – 17 April 2019) at Lutheran Theological Seminary, Pretoria, South Africa. Instruction consisted of 3 hours per morning, with time out for Chapel at 10:00 – 10:30 a.m. Another instructor, Dr. Elliott Sithole (a LCSA pastor), taught a second three-hour class (Jeremiah) to the same students in the afternoon. This time I taught 17 students in toto, from the following African nations: Uganda, Ethiopia, South Africa, Congo, Zambia, and Sudan. Due to financial and accreditation challenges, there were again no incoming (year 1) students—the second year in a row this has happened; hence, most of the students were years 3 and 4 (there were no deaconess students). The Greek of 1 Peter is extremely challenging, as anyone knows who can read the Greek NT; hence, I projected the Greek text onto a wall with an LED projector and worked through the entirety of 1 Peter textually and exegetically. Another difficulty with the letter is that the Greek sentences are very long and involved (periodic style) and there are many “echoes” (i.e., allusions) to earlier scriptural texts—either to the Septuagint (Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah), or to Matthew’s gospel (the writer of 1 Peter claims to be a “witness of the sufferings of Christ,” 1 Pet 5:1). I had not taught 1 Peter before, and really felt that this text might be beyond the ability of the students. Quite to my surprise, however, the students “took” to the letter and grew therein. There were many questions about issues the letter takes up—and a kind of African fascination in intertextuality (many of the students are quite accustomed to African proverbs, of which there are many). Hence, I feel that the class was an unexpected success and grounded them in such Petrine themes as purity/holiness, the sufferings of Christ, the sufferings of being a Christian, the grace of God, joy, the work of the Spirit in Word and Sacrament, the church as the new people of God, trust of God in daily circumstances, and the office of the holy ministry. I gave 7 daily quizzes, had a two-page 1 Peter Assignment Sheet for them to complete during the one weekend I was there, and a final exam to write on the last day of the class. Deb Wolf, manager of the CTSFW Bookstore, got me a good deal on a very fine exegetical commentary geared to the needs of these students—namely, Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries; Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1988). My budget permitted me to buy this commentary for all 17 of the students, and I often resorted to using it in class when I ran out of my own things to say.
Here are the assignments I expected from each student in the 1 Peter class:
7 quizzes (approx. 1 quiz per day) 50%
Assignment Sheet on Grudem (due over the weekend) 20%
Class participation (attendance, questions) 10%
Final Exam 20%
Total 100 pts possible
In addition to teaching the two week intensive Rector Rev. Carlos Winterle requested my preaching at Chapel during the 10:00 a.m. services on 11 and 16 April. The first Sunday (17 April) I worshipped at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, just two blocks from the seminary on Arcadia Street (Rev. Martin Paul), and the second Sunday (14 April) I worshipped at the Lutheran congregation that assembles at the seminary Chapel (Rev. Nathan Nthambo). My time in South Africa concluded greater travels to Sweden (20-28 February) and Nigeria (4 March – 5 April); so I have been gone for 8 weeks (2 months!), which is a long time to be away from home. This time around I lived with Professor Sithole in renovated lodging on the seminary campus, taking breakfast and lunch prepared for me and the students by Mrs. Emily Ngubeni, whose husband Aaron is the seminary driver who brings visitors to and from the airport. Dr. Karl Boehmer’s family had me over for dinner on Sunday 7 April, and Dr. Carlos Winterle hosted us for dinner on Tuesday 16 April. Indeed, I enjoyed getting to know the new Rector (Dr. Winterle) better this time around (most of last year he was in Mozambique). Though the seminary finances are still dire, Drs. Winterle and Boehmer seem to be a good team as they attend to the daily operations of the seminary and live faithfully one day at a time. The need for seminary accreditation is still pressing, although lately it seems as though the University of Pretoria is not as willing to form a partnership with the seminary as they once were.
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to Drs. Boehmer and Winterle, for their hospitality, and for the invitation to teach 1 Peter this time around. This is my 11th teaching trip to South Africa and every year it seems I know a little more than the previous year. Indeed, I have just become the doctoral father of the Rev. John Nkambule, an instructor at LTS, and so shall mentor him in his studies over this next academic year (2019-2020). Another couple that had me over to their place for wonderful German cuisine was Rev. and Mrs. Guenther Hohls, who was a pastor in the FELSISA until his retirement. It is vital that the LCMS continue to support LTS with our offerings and prayers, even as we respond to dramatic requests for assistance elsewhere. I welcome this opportunity to have served the Lord and his church by teaching at LTS in April 2019 and hope, by God’s grace, to return to teach next year in April or May.
Dr. John G. Nordling
Professor of Exegetical Theology
Concordia Theological Seminary
6600 N. Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46815