Edgar Martin Krentz, beloved professor, pastor, and poet, died in Chicago on Oct. 31, 2021, at the age of 93. Author of the influential “The Historical-Critical Method” as well as numerous articles about biblical interpretation, Ed experienced the split in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod over religious issues in the early 1970s while teaching at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He resigned from Concordia and joined students and other faculty members in their own seminary in exile. In over sixty years of teaching the New Testament as well as ancient Greek and classical archaeology in a variety of schools and venues, he helped to shape the lives of thousands of students.
Ed was born on May 27, 1928, in his parents’ bedroom in Sterling Township, Michigan, to Arnold and Magdalena (Drögemüller) Krentz. Growing up in the country in a house without indoor plumbing, he lived through the Depression, when his minister father supported the family of six on $100 a month. It was an ideal place for a somewhat introverted boy to grow up. He went on to receive an M. Div. from Concordia Seminary in 1952, an M.A. from Washington University the following year, and a doctorate in classics from Washington University in 1960. Influential teachers were Philip DeLacy, a specialist in ancient philosophy, and George Emmanuel Mylonas, a Greek archaeologist.
From 1953 until 1975 he taught at Concordia. Known for his love of books, he also served as librarian there from 1954 to 1964. In 1957, he was ordained at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Overland, Missouri. In the years that followed, he served as an assistant pastor at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Chapel of the Cross, and Trinity Lutheran Church, Manchester. In 1963 he spent a sabbatical year at the University of Tübingen, where Ernst Käsemann taught him that it was possible to combine committed Lutheranism with radical New Testament interpretation, a position he adopted for the rest of his career.
In mid-career he became an archaeologist, excavating for nine summer seasons at Caesarea Maritima, Israel, between 1971 and 1987. In 1975, he joined the faculty of Christ Seminary—Seminex. From 1978 until 1990 he served on the Standing Committee on Studies of the Lutheran World Federation, which met in countries all over the world: Brazil, East Germany, Hungary, the Philippines, Sweden, and Switzerland.
In 1983 he moved to the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, where he retired in 1998 but continued to teach part-time as a professor emeritus (his students affectionately — and somewhat ruefully — referred to his early-morning New Testament Greek tutorial as “Rambo Greek”). In retirement, he also taught at Yale Divinity School, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA, and Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He also continued to teach adult Bible classes at various churches in or near the city.
He met his future wife, Marion Becker, at Camp Arcadia, Michigan, where they both worked for four summers; they married in 1952 and had six children. He enjoyed volleyball and tennis, appreciated classical music, drama, and art, and, in his later years, wrote poetry. He loved to teach, whether students in classes, children at the dinner table, or tour groups he led to Greece, Israel, Italy and Turkey. His varied interests produced two business consultants, one pastor, one church musician, and two professors among his children. All of them love to read.
Ed is survived by his wife of 69 years, Marion (Becky) Krentz; six children, Peter (Jeri) of Davidson, North Carolina, Michael (Linda) of Bethlehem, PA, Elizabeth (Sam, deceased 2012) of Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut, Susanna (Scott) of Chicago, Illinois, Matthew (Erin) of Park City, Utah, Christopher (Michelle) of Charlottesville, Virginia; thirteen grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m. at Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave., Chicago, IL 60637.
Memorials may be sent to Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave., Chicago, IL 60637 or to the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1100 E. 55th St., Chicago, IL 60615.