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Harold W. Hoehner

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Harold W. Hoehner
On Thursday, February 12, 2009, after this profile was written, Harold W. Hoehner went to be with the Lord.
Cambridge? Been there, done that. Not many can say that, but Dr. Harold Hoehner can.

Growing up in northern New York, near Utica, he lived on a farm with his parents and two younger sisters. His father was from Switzerland and his mother was from Germany. His father, a full-time farmer, wanted and expected his son to follow in his footsteps.

“In the Swiss community, the idea is that once you have land, you never let it go,” Dr. Hoehner said.

But Harold wanted to be an engineer. He didn’t care that he was the only male to carry on the family name in farming. He didn’t enjoy it.

“You’re tied to a cow’s tail seven days a week.”

On April 1, 1953, young Harold accepted Christ at an evangelistic meeting, completely turning his life around.

Shortly after he became a Christian he felt God call him into ministry. He was not at all prepared for more formal schooling because he had taken only agricultural courses, but he knew that more educational training was the next step.

“Five or six months after my conversion was really the first time I thought seriously about going to college.”

At Barrington College he met his wife Gini. He also immersed himself in an “anti-dispensational, semi-anti-Dallas” culture.

“I never thought I’d go to seminary. I thought that was only for intellectual puppets in the pulpit, not someone really spiritual.”

But, despite his surroundings, many speakers came to Barrington with a dispensational framework.

“They made the most sense out of Scripture.”

Feeling that he needed seminary training for further ministry, he applied to Dallas Seminary, worked his way through his master’s degree, and went on for his doctorate. Even as he was finishing his doctorate, traveling across the ocean to attend Cambridge was just a dream.

“At that time most evangelicals did not go to Cambridge.”

As he advanced in his schooling, his field of study narrowed. He started in theology at DTS, moved to Bible exposition, and then finally landed on his passion, New Testament studies.

He applied and was accepted to Cambridge, Oxford, and Edinburgh, so after much prayer and J. I. Packer's encouragement, he decided on Cambridge.

Learning there was a “very challenging experience,” Dr. Hoehner said.

“You came into a situation where students read Greek or Latin like [we would read] a newspaper.”

An acquaintance of Dr. Hoehner’s, who was an undergraduate, would translate French poetry into Hebrew for fun on the weekends.

“They just had that kind of capability.”

After three years, he earned his Ph.D. and came back to the states to teach in the Bible Exposition and New Testament departments here at the Seminary.

He also started a family. Now he has four children, who have learned his love for Christ.

“I feel that my role here is to disciple people in the sense of going out into ministry, and that’s been reflected in our own family, with three of our four children in missionary work, with our other son doing missionary work at home, in the neighborhood.”

Along with his own family, he also sees his students as family, and finds joy in their success in Christ.

“I love seeing my students going into ministry. That’s what they come here to get trained for. I want them to carry on what is really important, and that is to proclaim Christ.”