Yale University

In Memoriam

Bruce Edward Schein

Bruce Schein
1964 graduation

Bruce passed away on February 28, 1985 from Hodgkin's lymphoma. Below is a biographical statement made at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary when Bruce was awarded a posthumous alumni award.

May 20, 1988

Twenty years ago, in this chapel, Bruce Edward Schein received the degree of Master of Divinity. He had come to Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary from Yale University, where he had majored in ancient history and from which he received the Bachelor of Arts degree. Bruce was a diligent, intense student, committed to the best possible preparation for the ordained ministry. He is the only student at this seminary to have served his internship in Jerusalem. Not only did he participate in the work of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, then largely a German and Arabic ministry, but he also taught at the Lutheran Boys' School in Beit Jala, a village between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. He was active in the various ministries of the Lutheran World Federation in what was then the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan — the Augusta Victoria Hospital, the school for the blind, the school for handicapped children, and other ministries to refugees. In addition, he began to learn the topography, archaeology, and history of the land in which he would spend more than fifteen years of his life.

After graduating from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in 1968, Bruce returned to the Near East, where he continued his study of Arabic, of Islam, and of the culture of those ancient lands. He studied at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, Lebanon, spent some months in Cairo, Egypt, and came to know many of the persons important in the life of the Church and its ministry in the Near East, with whom he would be working during the following years. He returned to Yale for a time to study with the famed New Testament scholar, Nils Ahlstrom Dahl, under whose direction he earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree. While at Yale, he won a nationwide competition by writing a paper that was read at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Atlanta, Georgia.

After earning his PhD, Bruce returned to Jerusalem under the auspices of the Division of World Mission and Ecumenism of the Lutheran Church in America. He began an English-speaking ministry at the Church of the Redeemer. To this day, Lutherans and others can worship in English in the Crusader chapel of that church, only a hundred yards from the Holy Sepulcher. The hanging on the wall behind the altar in that chapel was woven by people at the school for the blind and was dedicated to the glory of God by Bruce. He served as a Lutheran consultant to a Vatican commission on other religions. Bruce was an acknowledged expert on Islam. He conducted study tours of the land with which he was intimately acquainted and conducted extensive classes in Bible for Third World pastors, as well as for students and pastors from the United States and Europe. Bruce's contributions to the life and ministry of the Lutheran Church in Israel and Jordan are continuing memorials to his indefatigable commitment to that life and ministry in the land of our Lord.

In 1980, Augsburg Publishing House published Bruce's book, Following the Way, one of the best historical geographies of St. John's Gospel ever written. A prominent New Testament scholar observed that while he still did not agree with Bruce's argument for the primacy of St. John's Gospel over the Synoptics, Bruce's arguments were among the best and most persuasive he had heard. In the autumn of 1981, Bruce shared some of these materials with pastors of the Pacific Southwest Synod of the Lutheran Church in America at their annual conference at Asilomar, near Monterey, California. He called that enthusiastically-received series of lectures "The Emmaus Way." Bruce insisted that New Testament Emmaus was modern Amwas, some eighteen miles west-northwest and downhill from Jerusalem. He insisted that one could walk there and back in one day — which he did — more than once!

In the autumn of 1982, Bruce began his service as Professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio. Four years later, the ravages of Hodgkins disease, an illness that he had contracted before he entered the seminary, brought an early end to his marvelously productive career as scholar and pastor. To Bruce Edward Schein, esteemed student and distinguished colleague, we join in that ancient salute, ave atque vale, hail and farewell!