Last night I attended the birthday party of one of my closest friends, Halvor Ronning. Gathered around him were children, grandchildren and friends. Having lived 65 years, Halvor had reached a milestone in his life. There was good reason to celebrate.
During the party, I could not keep from reflecting on our long friendship. Halvor and I both arrived in Israel in the early 1960s to learn Hebrew. While pursuing programs at the Hebrew University, we also studied privately with Dr. Robert L. Lindsey, pastor of the Narkis Street Congregation in Jerusalem.
Of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research’s three senior members, Dr. Lindsey and Professor David Flusser are now deceased, and Professor Shmuel Safrai is in his eighties [ed. note: Safrai died in July 2003]. Halvor and I, the older generation of Lindsey’s students, are in our sixties. The oldest of Lindsey’s younger students are in their fifties.
With Lindsey and Flusser, the creators of the Jerusalem School, now gone, and the oldest of their students approaching the end of their productive years, it is time to take stock and carefully plan our next steps. It is not a time for pessimism, but neither is it a time for ignoring the reality of the situation.
Halvor’s late parents lived into their nineties. His mother passed away last year at the age of 95. In his nineties, Halvor’s father led a tour to China. So, Halvor may have many more productive years. My parents, in their eighties, are still alive, and my mother has recently written an article that will be published in an important genealogical journal.
If the good Lord tarries and Halvor and I live as long as our parents, we might still not be able to work productively until the end of our lives. For myself, I have set 2014 as the deadline for the scholarly goals that I would like to achieve. In 2014, I will be 75. Realistically, I cannot expect to be productive as a scholar beyond that age. (Of course, if God allows me to work beyond the age of 75, I will be thrilled!)
For Halvor and me, at least, this is an appropriate moment to examine our priorities and to ask what realistically we may expect to accomplish in our remaining years.
My scholarly priorities are:
2. To create a database of the notes that Lindsey wrote in the margins of his Huck synopsis and Moulton-Geden concordance to the Greek New Testament—thanks to Ken Mullican of HaKesher, these notes have already been scanned and can be read in PDF format.
3. To produce a commentary that highlights the Hebraic elements in the Greek texts of the synoptic Gospels.
Of course, without the prayers and financial contributions of interested non-specialists, we will not be able to accomplish much of what we hope to achieve. Obviously, the battle is the Lord’s, and as the “owner of the harvest,” the responsibility to “send more workers to His harvest” rests squarely on His shoulders (see “Haste Is of the Devil“).
May we all do our part to see God’s word illuminated and accurately translated so that God’s reign—in rabbinic parlance, the Kingdom of Heaven—may spread from one end of the earth to the other.