A Tribute to Dr. Roy B. Zuck (1932-2013)
Roy B. Zuck, senior professor emeritus of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary and editor of Bibliotheca Sacra, went to be with the Lord on the evening of Saturday, March 16, 2013. Family visitation and viewing time will be on Thursday, March 21, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., at Redeemer Bible Church (Fellowship Hall).
"Dr. Zuck was a man of many gifts and great grace. He was one of the best teachers I ever sat under. Every course you took from him was a course in pedagogy as well as the particular subject of the course. He was creative as well as energetic. He was an editing machine, and while driven by his own lists and memos even to himself, he was a man without guile who encouraged all around him to study, teach, and write for both the academy as well as the church. For his godliness and his goodness in all he did and was, we will miss him greatly." – Dr. Mark Bailey, President of Dallas Theological Seminary.
Dr. Roy B. Zuck's life and service to Dallas Theological Seminary were marked by an unquenchable thirst for God's Word and a passion for helping others know Christ better through the scriptures.
He is survived by his son Kenneth Zuck and daughter-in-law Kimberly Zuck of Allen, Texas; daughter, Barbara Hanes, and son-in-law, Gregory Hanes, of West Monroe, Louisiana; grandchildren Audrey, Ethan, and Alden Zuck, and Jason Hanes and his wife Stacee, Jennifer Wise, and Allison Hanes Noland and her husband Stephen Noland; and two great-grandsons, Dakota and Ayden Wise.
Coming to Know and Follow the Lord
Roy was born January 20, 1932, and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. As a boy, he visited his father’s parents’ farm, where he would milk cows and feed chickens. His grandfather spoke to him about the Bible and shared the gospel with him. When he was ten, Roy attended a revival meeting with his grandparents, and he trusted Christ that evening. Roy would later joke that he practiced preaching to the chickens, but they weren’t a very responsive audience.
Only a couple of years later, at age twelve, Roy felt called to Christian ministry. In his words: “I just felt that’s what the Lord wanted me to do, and I couldn’t see doing anything else.” Later as a freshman in high school, he wrote to Biola College in southern California to request an application. He thought the Lord might lead him to work overseas, perhaps as a missionary doctor. In 1949, he graduated from Phoenix Union High School and entered Biola.
In his first two years in college, Roy sat in Bible classes taught by DTS alumnus J. Vernon McGee, who “made the Bible live.” This was perhaps the first spark that got Roy thinking about attending Dallas Theological Seminary. In his final year in college, he was student body president and presided over the student council, where he met Dorothy (“Dottie”) Blythe. He proposed to Dottie on her birthday, May 9, 1953, a few weeks before their graduation. He graduated cum laude and moved to Dallas to begin the Th.M. program at Dallas Theological Seminary. During his first year Dottie stayed in California while Roy attended classes. They were married July 24, 1954. Roy became Howard Hendricks’s teaching assistant while a student, and he graduated at the top of his class in 1957. He stayed to begin his Th.D. and served as a teaching fellow in Christian Education and Homiletics. During this time Roy and Dottie’s two children were born—Barbara in 1956, and Kenneth two years later.
Professor, Editor, and Writer
After completing his doctoral classes, Roy and Dottie moved to Illinois, where Roy took an editing position with Scripture Press. From 1959 to 1964 he was editor of Youth Programs and of Training Hour Publications. He continued to work on his dissertation and ultimately received his Th.D. in systematic theology in 1961. In 1963, Scripture Press published The Holy Spirit in Your Teaching, which was dedicated to Dottie and based largely on his dissertation. This book enjoyed a long life through several printings and was used as a textbook in numerous Bible colleges and seminaries. The dust jacket for the first edition mentions that at this time Dr. Zuck was “in demand across the country as a speaker in national and local Sunday School conventions and youth leaders' conferences.” Dottie travelled with him when she could. During the summer of 1964, the whole family travelled to Guatemala when he was asked to address the students of the Central American Bible Institute.
From 1965 to 1973, Roy served as Executive Vice President for Scripture Press Ministries. During this time he also served as a member of the Board of Directors for TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission). Because of his outstanding service in teaching, leading, speaking, and writing, Biola University named him alumnus of the year in 1970.
Roy almost took a teaching position at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, but he received a call from Dr. Walvoord, who said, “I think you’re making a mistake.” Later Roy would say, “When Dr. Walvoord tells you you’re making a mistake, you think twice.” He flew to Dallas, interviewed for a teaching position, and was hired to be assistant professor of Bible Exposition and assistant academic dean. Dr. Zuck served on the faculty and taught at Dallas Theological Seminary for twenty-three years, from 1973 to 1996. Soon after beginning his teaching career at DTS, he was asked to be the associate editor of the seminary’s theological journal, Bibliotheca Sacra. He became its senior editor in 1986 and served in that role until his death.
When they came to Dallas, Roy and Dottie joined Reinhardt Bible Church, pastored by Don Geiger. For nearly forty years—first at Reinhardt and later at Redeemer Bible Church (also with Pastor Geiger)—Roy taught a Sunday school class that was very popular. According to Pastor Geiger, “people loved him. He was a master teacher with a pastor’s heart. He really cared for the people he taught.”
Tragedy and Wisdom
In January 1974, at the beginning of Roy’s second semester of teaching, his daughter Barbara (then 17) was in an auto accident that left her unconscious and with severe head injuries. In an effort to minister to people suffering, Roy described their ordeal and God’s healing and provision through a dozen procedures, including two brain surgeries, in Barb, Please Wake Up! published in 1976.
Roy had a lifelong interest in biblical wisdom literature, particularly Job and Ecclesiastes. In 1978, he contributed the volume on Job to the popular Everyman’s Bible Commentary. Around this time he also developed an interest in genealogical research. He discovered that his great, great, great uncle William Johnston Zuck had also written a commentary on the book of Job in 1898.
Roy travelled to forty-four countries over the course of his life. He visited Switzerland ten times. Another of his distant relatives, Hans Zuck, was a Swiss Anabaptist preacher who was imprisoned in Bern, Switzerland, for two years because he refused to baptize infants. Roy visited Hans Zuck’s farm and the prison where he had been kept. Photographs of the rolling green farmland of Bern hung on the walls of Roy’s office for many years.
Beginning around 1980, Dr. Zuck, along with Dr. Walvoord, began work on The Bible Knowledge Commentary, which was based on the recently published NIV. The New Testament volume was published in 1983; the Old Testament, in 1985. As part of Dallas Seminary’s oral history project, Roy was asked about which of his numerous publications he was especially proud, and he mentioned this work. “That was a huge job. It took five years of editing, over three thousand hours, probably fifteen hours a week on the side ... but the Lord has really blessed it.”
During Roy’s tenure at DTS he also served as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean (1985–1992). In the Dean’s office he helped start new degree programs as well as extension programs. Under his leadership the Doctor of Ministry, the Master of Arts in Cross-Cultural Ministries, and the Master of Arts in Christian Education were started and took shape. In 1991, he published a textbook on hermeneutics, Basic Bible Interpretation, which has been widely used in classrooms around the world. After leaving the Dean’s office in 1992, he devoted himself to teaching and served as Chair of the Bible Exposition Department from 1992 to 1996.
Devotion to Family
In 1996, Roy published Precious in His Sight: Childhood and Children in the Bible, dedicated to his six grandchildren. That same year he retired from the classroom, but he continued to serve as editor of Bibliotheca Sacra. He also continued to work on many writing and editing projects, including serving as managing editor of the twenty-eight-volume Swindoll Leadership Library. He freelanced for several publishers and created tracts for the American Tract Society. In the summer of 2000, he began working as the copy and theological editor for another of the seminary’s publications, Kindred Spirit.
In 2012, he took on the challenge of cowriting with Elmer Towns a new paraphrase-translation of the Bible. He was in charge of writing most of the Old Testament paraphrase and editing the entire book. It will be published by Destiny Image in the fall of 2013. Over the course of his lifetime, he wrote fifteen books and edited over a hundred. Even in the last months of his life he loved to work, especially to edit manuscripts.
Roy was married for fifty-four years to his sweetheart, Dottie, who went to be with the Lord September 27, 2008. Roy stepped away from most outside activities to care for Dottie when her health declined. In her final years, he was her primary caregiver, and he always considered it a gift and a privilege to serve her in this way. He spoke of the many years she had cooked for him and helped him and declared that now it was his turn.
Resources from Dr. Roy B. Zuck
In 2009, he delivered his last chapel message, titled Is the Rapture Next? in which he reminded believers of the assurance of God's promises and the hope they have in the Rapture.