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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.
Details: (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 months.

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):

Day, 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.



I like 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, 1-5

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