Obituary: Helmuth Pehlke, Old Testament professor


Helmuth Pehlke, senior research professor of Old Testament at Bibelseminar Bonn, the German-based partnering seminary of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, died March 22. He was 79 years old.

“We are indeed grateful for Dr. Pehlke’s years of faithful service to our Lord and his longtime efforts to bring the Old Testament to life for students,” said David S. Dockery, interim president of Southwestern Seminary. “We celebrate his life and influence even as we offer our prayers and sympathy for his family and friends during this time of loss.”

Heinrich Derksen, president of Biebelseminar Bonn, recalled Pehlke as a colleague and a teacher.

“He was a gifted preacher and teacher and a role model for many,” Derksen said. Derksen, who studied under Pehlke at Freie Theologische Akademie in Giessen, Germany, said he would always remember Pehlke’s words to his students: “My greatest fear in preaching is that I will speak and God will be silent!” He added that Pehlke “leaves a good trail and we pray for comfort for his dear wife and children.”

Pehlke, who served at Southwestern Seminary and Bibelseminar Bonn beginning in 2005 until he retired in 2017, held a Doctor of Theology (1985) and a Master of Theology (1978) both from Dallas Theological Seminary. Before serving at Southwestern, Pehlke was the co-promoter of the Old Testament Department at the University Kampen in Holland from 2000-2005. Additionally, he served 17 years as the chair of the Semitics and Old Testament at Freie Theologische Akademie, in addition to his faculty role as professor of Semitics and Old Testament. He served in the latter position for 22 years.

A prolific author, Pehlke penned numerous academic textbooks in the German language, and contributed articles and chapters to Begründung ethischer NormenJahrbuch für EvangelikaleBibel und Gemeinde, and the Southwestern Journal of Theology, among others.

In addition to his theological academic experience, Pehlke served as a chaplain for tourist groups in Israel, a counselor for youth camps and tent missions, and served as a summer missionary to the former communist countries of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. 

Pehlke also holds diplomas from the Royal Society of Arts in London, the University of Cambridge extension, the Theological Division of Bibelschule Bergstrasse, and Bibelschule Brake.

Pehlke is survived by his wife of 52 years, Lore, and their children Samuel, Stefan, and Thomas.