Born and raised in the Ruhr-area (Duisburg). Study of Protestant
Theology at the universities of Marburg, Tübingen,
Bonn, and the seminary of Wuppertal (1952 - 1957). Pastor
trainee 1957-1959. Exchange student and teacher of Old Testament
in the USA (1959 - 1964). Parish minister at Essen (Ruhr-area;
1965 - 1975). Professor of Old Testament at the Lutheran
seminary of São Leopoldo, Brazil (1975 - 1981), at
Giessen University (1981 - 1984) and Marburg University
(1985 - 1997; oldest Protestant university, founded 1527
A.D.). Retired since Oct. 1st 1997.
Since then: Travels, Teaching, Writing, Lecturing, Parish-Work.
Study of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literature.
(cf. German Version)
Born in the attic of a cottage on 20th of June 1932. Father
coal-miner (Fritz Gerstenberger); mother Anna, nee Kreps.
Grown up during the war, attending elementary school and
gymnasium at Rheinhausen (now Duisburg). State-youth organization,
after the war YMCA. Study of Protestant Theology. First
exam 1957. Assistant at Wuppertal seminary; doctoral work
with H.W. Wolff and M. Noth (Bonn) on "The So-Called
Apodictic Law" (published 1965; see Publications).
WCC exchange student and assistant professor at Yale Divinity
School, New Haven (1959 - 1964), STM 1960. Conclusion of
doctoral work (Bonn 1961: Martin Noth, Otto Plöger
examinators). In the USA: Political and cultural dimension
of Christian faith; crises (Civil Rights Movement; Cuba
Missiles; Kennedy murder etc). Field-work for Presbyterian
Mission Board on Navajo-reservation, Arizona, during vacations.
Important encounter with native culture. American denominationalism,
missionary and ecumenical spirit highly impressive. Going
back to Germany in 1964 on a global Western Route (Oregon;
Japan; Hongkong; Thailand; India; Iran; Lebanon) in three
Parish ministry in a working-class suburb of Essen. Confronting
structures and problems of industrial society and religious
traditionalism. Emphasis on church members' own responsibilities
and collaboration. Working groups, decentralizing and differentiating
parish-services. Public relations. Club-work with elderly
persons. Pastoral care. Interruption of parish-service to
qualify for a German academic career ("Habilitation"
at Heidelberg University, 1969/1970; Prof. H.W. Wolff).
Marriage and return to Essen-parish January 1971. Two sons
born at Essen.
Early in 1975 family moves to Brazil, on assignment of EKD
(Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland). Language-study and
acculturation in Rio (catholic institute CENFI). Teaching
Old Testament at the seminary of the IECLB (Igreja Evangelica
de Confissao Luterana no Brasil) in São Leopoldo,
city of German immigration 1825. Fascination of Liberation
Theology, linking exegetical work with present-day social
and economic reality. Preferential option for the poor.
Contextual conditioning of both texts and interpreters.
Misery of the Third World is but the other side of the medal
of northern industrial affluence. Will ongoing globalization
be an instrument of more exploitation of the southern hemisphere?
Ecumenical theology becomes a necessity, striving for universal
justice. Daughter born in São Leopoldo.
Back in Germany since 1981. Teacher of Old Testament at
the universities of Giessen (1981 - 1985) and Marburg (Philipps-Universität,
1985 - 1997). Tentatives of opening up German theological
systems to Latin-American thinking. Student exchange between
Marburg and Brazilian seminaries. Study of feminist theology
and exegesis. Keeping in touch with church work (lectures;
preaching; bible-study; adult education). Travels to the
USA and Brazil. Contextuality of Bible-interpretation needs
to be redefined and practiced within the network of intercultural
relations. Dialogue between religions is a dire necessity
for survival of humankind.
Marvellous opportunities to travel, teach, lecture, write,
do parish work (preaching and adult education). Study of
Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literatures, especially
Sumerian. Heart-attack (2003) is repaired almost before
it began, thanks to God and the medical doctors. Human-relations
become ever more important in the last phase of life. Gratitude
for every encounter. The sparse lines of a Brazilian poet
and theologian (Pedro Casaldaliga) are comforting (original
portugues on the German page):
nothing but Light, would be much too bright.
But every day has its night.
Night, nothing but Darkness would be dire too much.
But every night turns back to Light.
to reprint here the little article written by my friend
and colleague Brevard S. Childs: "Erhard Gerstenberger:
The Yale Years" in: Rainer Kessler et al (eds), "Ihr
Völker alle, klatscht in die Hände!", Festschrift
für Erhard S. Gerstenberger zum
65. Geburtstag, exuz 3, Münster: LIT-Verlag 1997,