World-Class Scholar, Beloved Teacher, Faithful Friend

Eugene Carpenter, Ph.D., professor of Old Testament and scholar-in-residence, passed away on July 2, 2012. He was 69 years old.

Gene Carpenter was one of the most hospitable people I know. Beginning early in my career at Bethel, he regularly invited the younger Religion & Philosophy faculty to spend time with him. He made us feel valued, appreciated, and welcomed. I will never forget the many times Gene would pop in and share some new insight he had gleaned from an Old Testament passage, or a hilarious quotation from a Greek or Roman or Jewish author or commentator, or a clandestine spot where he would fish, enjoy nature, and talk to God.

It was not uncommon for Gene to spend five or six days doing virtual non-stop research and writing, tirelessly crafting another commentary or translating another book of the Old Testament. But he was no workaholic, for after diving deep into his work for a short while, he was off to the lake or river to boat and fish, or to the Smokies with Joyce to reel and relax. One of my most memorable experiences with him was when he took my young son and me and the Longs to the Man vs. Beast Bull Riding Championships in Michigan. We still laughed together years later about Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey, who stole the show riding a Collie and trying to lasso the cows. Gene’s balanced lifestyle of serious scholarship and refreshing leisure was and continues to be an inspiration.

Gene was a truly unique individual, and he will long be remembered as a world-class scholar, a beloved teacher, and a faithful friend. In many ways he embodied the prophets he spent his lifetime studying. He was a man of the Word, and of discipline, wisdom, and sage counsel. He walked by the Spirit. He was a friend of God.

For now we weep, but in the eschaton we will rejoice with him forever.

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