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The Thistle
Refelctions on Dr. Bob Yarbrough by Dr. Hans Bayer
By Covenant Seminary on Monday, May 14th, 2012
Posted In: Article, Featured

Reflections on Dr. Bob Yarbrough
by Dr. Hans F. Bayer
Professor of New Testament

One of Covenant seminary’s greatest strengths is its faculty of pastor-scholars who care deeply for students and each other—which prompts many to comment on the harmony that exists among our faculty. We believe that if faculty relate to one another on a professional level only, the effect would be a great loss. this group of educators delights to be together and learn from one another—even when challenges arise. As one example, Dr. Hans Bayer, professor of New Testament, shares a few anecdotal tales chronicling his early friendship with fellow professor of New Testament Dr. Bob Yarborough. Dr. Yarborough taught at Covenant seminary for five years in the 1990s before moving out of state. he returned to St. Louis in 2010.

Around august 1982, Bob and I met as PhD hopefuls in the hallway of the Faculty of Divinity building, King’s College, University of Aberdeen, Scotland. If I remember right, Bob sported hiking boots and jeans and shouldered a backpack. What I did not know then was that he had attended graduate school at Wheaton College following a lengthy stint as a lumberjack in Montana. When we met, he was eager to plow through the likes of Adolf Schlatter’s idiosyncratic and cavernous German in order to produce a PhD thesis on the merits of the redemptive-historical perspective (Heilsgeschichte, “salvation history”) in contrast to critical scholarship such as that of Rudolf Bultmann. I found that Bob relished academic theological work so long as it served the proper purpose, especially growth in personal discipleship and nourishment of the church. this remains true today.

A few semesters into our studies, I was not sure whether I would be able to retain my university office for research.at that time, Bob had a tiny room at King’s College under a staircase with just enough room for a desk and some books (so it seemed). a meeting was called where offices were to be redistributed and my “office fate” would be decided. Unbeknownst to me, Bob had slipped into the back of the meeting room (even though he was not affected by the changes) just to make sure that if things turned sour, he could offer me a share of his already-crammed accommodations.

Once my research time concluded, I was off to pursue a teaching post in Giessen, Germany. Bob graciously interrupted his research and accompanied me with my family’s belongings to Giessen. We had rented a moving truck, which Bob had offered to drive back to Aberdeen once we unloaded in Germany. to my delight, Bob wanted me to read German idiomatic phrases from a German dictionary as we motored down the British and French highways as well as the German autobahn. Phrases such as “mich laust der Affe” (literally: “I am being deliced by a monkey,” meaning, “I can’t believe this” or “puzzling monkey business”) elicited sustained laughter from Bob. although I do not believe in reincarnation, I could only attribute this phenomenon to the idea that Bob must have lived in Germany during a “former life.” His feel for —and grasp of—the German mind-set and way of thinking was simply too uncanny to have come merely from books. Subsequently, Bob drove the van back to Aberdeen alone. Through the entire British Isles, the van sounded like a warplane because it had developed a seriously defective muffle. Somehow, he made it back.

For many years, I had hoped to win Bob as a colleague at the German seminary where I was teaching. Paradoxically, we instead became colleagues at Covenant Seminary in 1994. One day, Bob arrived at our house in St. Louis to unload a pile of ready-cut lumber for our fireplace. Just so? Just so!

In 1996, after five years at Covenant Seminar, Bob sensed a call to trinity evangelical Divinity School. While he was still here, I had man-aged to lose a nice jacket. a few days afterward, a new grey jacket arrived in my mailbox. Where did it come from? the unknown provenance did not detract from the fact that this new coat served splendidly for many trips to various eastern European cities, where the inconspicuous look of it helped me blend into the respective host cultures. Someone skilled in cultural adaptability must have had a hand in it.

Providentially, we are presently once again colleagues at Covenant Seminary where Bob returned in 2010. one day last fall, I thought I had “caught” Bob getting to his class two minutes late. after my all-too-gleeful “Late, eh?” came his laconic, matter-of-fact reply: “They [his Greek students] are doing their quiz.” I stood there “wie ein begossener Pudel” (“like a poodle that had just gotten a bucket of water poured over him”). Now you know who was late for class.

Throughout our nearly 30 years of friendship, Bob has been a constant encourager toward and an example of the awesome and high calling of Christ. His love for God and for God’s reliable self-revelation in Scripture—which testifies to redemption-in-history—runs mighty deep. It is as oak like as some of the Montana trees Bob took down in bygone days. throughout these years, we have shared in a multifaceted sense what Paul calls “fellowship [or partnership] in the gospel” (Phil. 1:5)—sometimes as two soldiers shoulder-to-shoulder, other times sharing and pursuing that “fellowship in the gospel” from distant shores. no matter how, it has always been to the sound of the same drummer.

Do you get a feel for who Bob Yarbrough is? Not yet? Well then, go help him clear some brush around his home, together with his white German shepherd who answers to “Wolf.”

 

Dr. Hans F. Bayer, professor of New Testament, taught for 10 years at the German Theological Seminary at Giessen, Germany, where he also planted and co-pastored a church before joining the Covenant Seminary faculty in 1994. He lectures and preaches in the U.S. and Europe, and he has published numerous works, primarily on the Gospels and Acts. He recently wrote a major commentary in German on the Gospel of Mark and has just published a book about discipleship in Mark.

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Class Notes
'98
[MATS] - 
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[MDiv] - 
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Congratulations to Michael Hall (MDiv '00) on becoming Pastor to Students at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Charlottesville, VA. Michael has served as Pastor of Student Ministries at Kirk of the Hills, St. Louis, MO for the past seven years. Michael and his wife Kirby Hall MATS '99) have three children, McKenzie (10), Carter (9), and John Thomas (7).

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[DMin] - 
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