J. Alan Groves was a pioneer of modern biblical studies who used computers to analyze the Hebrew Old Testament. These articles have been collected to honor his work and his character as a loving Christian exemplar.
"The most important thing in Als life was his friendship with Christ. If you ever got into a conversation with him about what really mattered, he would point not to honors or degrees or accomplishments, but to the depth of a persons friendship with Christ. Al loved the Lord, and he wanted to do only what was pleasing to him. He also loved people, and he did his best to share with them the one thing that really mattered in life: the love of God. In his work as a scholar and teacher, Al had that remarkable ability of integrating his love for learning with his desire for God and his concern for others. He was loving husband, father, pastor, elder, and friend to so many people. He was also a groundbreaking OT scholar, researcher, and teacher with a deep love for Gods Word and a desire to share that life-giving Word with his colleagues and students. I am sure that Al would be deeply touched by this collection of essays written in his honor. He would be especially moved, I believe, not so much by the high quality of the contributions (as evidenced throughout), but by the deep bonds of friendship that inspired his colleagues and former students to honor him in this way. My friendship with Al goes back to 1971 when we entered Dartmouth College together as freshmen. I remember him then and think of him now as someone who always counted his blessings and who generously shared his many gifts and talents with others. This volume demonstrates in no uncertain terms what a truly great blessing Al was to the Christian community revolving around Westminster Theological Seminary and what a wonderful and inspiring gift he was to the international world of biblical scholarship."
"I cherish very special memories of my work with Al, an innovative, thorough, and knowledgeable scholar, and above all a dear friend. My work with him in the 1980s on the digitization of the Leningrad Codex was pleasant and instructive in all aspects. Subsequently he slowly became a leader in this field. He was at the forefront of the computerized study of the Hebrew Bible and its grammatical analysis, and without him this field would be different today. This fine collection of studies is a token of appreciation for his work and will remain an everlasting memory of his activities and personality."
It is a pleasure to commend this tribute to Al Groves, one of the foremost scholars in Old Testament theology and language of his generation, whose death was a huge and untimely loss. The collection here reflects Al Groves particular interests, and testifies to the vigour and creativity of Old Testament studies in the best traditions of Westminster Theological Seminary, as well as to the immense personal and scholarly influence of the honoree.
"Ah, Mercy! That word that was ever on Al's lips also well describes the focus of his work and his life. As he was conscious of having received mercy, so he lived it and, like Micah, loved it, and as he read his Hebrew Bible (and his Greek New Testament, too) he saw God's chesed everywhere in it. The essays in this volume are a fitting tribute to Al the lover of mercy, because, as Al himself was always concerned to do (even in the midst of parsing an ambiguous verb), they point beyond technical matters to some of the ways the Bible directs us both to love and to live God's mercy. Thanks be to God."
Al Groves would surely have opened this volume of scholarly essays eagerly, and on scanning the Contents page thought: Why, I know every one of these contributors personally!little thinking this was the motivation for the entire book. He would have been deeply moved, honored, surprised, grateful, and happy to know he was so much loved. Al Groves had a special capacity to make people feel his care for, and interest in, themand not only as students or scholars, but as whole individuals. At the same time he could gently question and probe both mind and heart in pastoral concern. Reading these pages with gratitude he would often, surely, have paused and thought now, we must talk further about this. It is wonderfully fitting that some of his closest friends, colleagues, teachers, and students here offer their learning and their love to the memory of such a man. This physical reminder of his largeness of heart, his lovability, his ability joyfully to unite faith and learning, makes one feel again how much he meant to those who knew, loved, and learned from himand how much he is missed.
Al's interest in the Hebrew biblical text brought him into contact with the fledgling "Center for Computer Analysis of Texts" that was attempting to gather computerized texts especially for the sub-project "Computer Analysis of Texts for Septuagint Studies." He worked with the late Jack (John) Abercrombie to correct and adjust the computerized Hebrew text that had been acquired from the University of Michigan (Van Parunak) in cooperation with Claremont Graduate School (Dick Whittaker). In the development of things, further work on this Hebrew material was done in the Netherlands by E. Talstra and his team, with Al contributing on this side of the waters. Al became the person in charge of the Hebrew biblical text developments, at first as an arm of CCAT, but soon as an independent project. It was a tremendously valuable development in all ways, and his attention to detail and cooperative spirit was much appreciated by all.
"This volume is full of gems, cut from the Scriptures and skilfully polished by gifted scholars who knew and loved our brother, Al Groves. I knew Al for almost thirty years, as classmate and colleague, and these essays are a fitting tribute to the man whose heart was full of love for Christ and for his church. They illustrate all that was true of Al: a concern for academic excellence and theological integrity, allied to a warm heart. The task facing Old Testament scholars is often difficult, but these essays are sparkling with light and colour and make us want dig for ourselves so that we may discover new biblical gems that enable us to be more energetic worshippers of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."
"Teaching in a theological climate is a very lonely and sometimes daunting enterprise. Even with the most absorbed and friendly class, you are all alone there in front. What you say will inevitably be passed onsometimes garbled and distorted. When you read the exams and one student after another gets it all wrong, there is really only one conclusion available: you, with all your preparation and good intentions, have deceived a whole class, and they will go on to deceive the waiting world. It is hard to be fearless and open to learning and willing to teach something new and important. It is easy to be safe and lazy. I think teaching the Old Testament is the hardest. It is so far away from today; is Jesus really there? But at Westminster Theological Seminary it was different. Ray Dillard showed us Jesus in the Old Testament, with integrity and with joy. Ray was pastoral in his preaching and in his recruitment and leadership of his band of brothers in the Old Testament department. The group he brought together and nurtured was truly a team. But that cant happen, can it? Remember how lonesome it is up in front? Someone has said that if it happens, its possible. It happened. That had to be unique in Old Testament theological education. But it wasnt unique; it continued. At Rays much-too-early death, suddenly the unspectacular Al Groves was there, as pastoral of his brood as Ray had been. He had his own kind of cutting-edge scholarship in the arcane world of the Old Testament text. How could the cellar of a crumbling mansion produce the very best Old Testament text everand computerized at that? How could that kind of world-class scholarship come with the pastors heart, for students and especially for his colleagues? It happened again with Al. We must speak the truth in love. In a seminary, truth means the very best painstaking scholarship. In love means with kindness and care for all the students, and especially for colleagues in the hard and sometimes hostile world of evangelical Old Testament scholarship. That was Al Groves. It happened again. Isnt the Lord kind?"
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