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Longtime TEDS professor Grant R. Osborne dies at 76

Trinity CommunicationsNovember 05, 2018

Grant R. Osborne, a longtime TEDS faculty member, New Testament scholar and biblical hermeneutics specialist, died Sunday, Nov. 4, in Libertyville. He was 76.

Osborne retired from the TEDS faculty in 2016 after serving 39 years. He also taught at Winnipeg Theological Seminary in Canada and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Osborne pastored churches in Ohio and Illinois.

In addition to serving on the TEDS faculty, Osborne was a student here, earning a Master of Arts degree. He held a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Aberdeen.

Osborne was a prolific author. Among his many titles are The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (InterVarsity Press, 1997), Three Crucial Questions about the Bible (Baker Book House, 1994) and Handbook for Bible Study (Baker Book House, 1979).

He wrote commentaries on many New Testament books, and upon retirement embarked on a 19-volume commentary project for Lexham Press that he called “the culmination of my life.”

Osborne noted that academic knowledge of scripture had expanded exponentially during his half-century as a professor and scholar. The post-retirement Lexham project drew inspiration from his desire to equip busy pastors and lay leaders, many of whom do not have time to dive deeply into the new body of knowledge.

“Pastors are kind of blown away and almost get intimidated by all the material,” Osborne said at the time of his TEDS retirement. “What I’m going to do is take all that material and make it useful for pastors, too.”

TEDS students, faculty and alumni expressed deep appreciation for Osborne’s teaching efforts.

TEDS New Testament colleague Donald A. Carson said Osborne contributed by specializing in being a generalist. “He reads very widely,” Carson noted at the time of Osborne’s retirement, “and has commented on many books in the New Testament.”

“His influence on our campus and across the evangelical world has been immeasurable,” president David S. Dockery said. “He was a masterful scholar and teacher who loved the Scriptures and the gospel as well as his students and colleagues.”

“Grant Osborne was a great servant, committed to deep and faithful scholarship with a pastoral sensitivity,” TEDS dean Graham Cole said. “It was all done with winsome Christian cheerfulness.”

Former TEDS students expressed admiration for Osborne on social media when word of his passing became public Sunday.

“We differed on various points, but he was always an example of trying to let the text speak for itself,” wrote Ray Van Neste, dean of the School of Theology and Missions at Union University. “Even in the most academic discussion, he urged us to apply the truths for the good of the Church.”

“Dr. Osborne taught me a love for and confidence in God’s Word, a deep commitment to the text of Scripture, a generosity toward those with whom you disagree, and evenhandedness in interpretation,” wrote Matt Mitchell, pastor of Lanse Evangelical Free Church in Pennsylvania. “I’m working my way through his commentary on Matthew right now, and as I preach, I can hear his voice in every sentence.”

Former student Scot McKnight noted at that Osborne was “famous for his extensive handouts and dialogical classrooms.

“Grant loved to teach and taught all over the world,” McKnight wrote. “He loved his family, he loved the Bible, he loved teaching the Bible, and he loved teaching the Bible in the church.”

Osborne, who suffered from asthma, recently told a family member that upon arrival in heaven, it would be nice to take a deep breath. After hearing that, McKnight wrote in response, “Breathe in, brother, you’re in the presence of our glorious God!”

His wife Nancy and two daughters, Amber and Susanne, survive Osborne.

Funeral arrangements are set for 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at Village Church of Gurnee, 1319 N. Hunt Club Road, Gurnee.

The family requests that any gifts made in Osborne’s honor be designated to a memorial scholarship fund at Trinity. Contributions can be made online or mailed to Trinity International University, Attn: University Advancement, 2065 Half Day Road, Deerfield, IL 60015. Please write “in memory of Grant Osborne” on the check’s memo line.

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