Donald Hagner’s Recollections of George Eldon Ladd (Part 2)

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Donald Hagner, George Eldon Ladd Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. See part one of Donald Hagner’s recollections of George Ladd.

Ladd also had a lighter side to him, when he was not laboring away in his library. I remember a delightful social evening in Ladd’s home when Rudolf Schnackenburg was staying there as a guest; and another social evening there, shortly after Ladd had returned from an SNTS meeting he had attended in Europe, when Ladd showed slides from the occasion, with pictures of scholars known to us students only by name. One occasion I shall never forget was when Ladd invited those who were not returning home for Christmas to come to his house for a dinner on Christmas Day. At the end of the day we played games together. And there was George, the erudite NT scholar, lying on the floor with us, building matchstick castles to see who the goat would be whose match brought the whole structure down.

When I joined the Fuller faculty in 1976, Ladd, now 65, was not the same man I knew as a student. For a variety of reasons, documented in John D’Elia’s biography, A Place at the Table: George Eldon Ladd and the Rehabilitation of Evangelical Scholarship in America, Ladd began to decline psychologically and physically. It was a hard thing to watch. The decline was steep after the death of his wife in 1977. He welcomed me as a new colleague in the department and insisted that I call him “George.” He was genuinely moved when I asked him if he would autograph my copy of what would be his last book, The Last Things: An Eschatology for Laymen (1977). The stroke he suffered in 1980 left him in a pitiable state, and within two years he went to be with his Lord—fully dependent, as he knew he would be, upon the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

Little did I know in the 1970’s, far less in 1964, that in 1993 I would eventually become the first incumbent in the newly endowed chair bearing Ladd’s name. As it happens, I now drive by Ladd’s old house nearly every day and I glance at the house and remember the man. I often feel sad that he unfortunately had little sense of how important his contribution to evangelical scholarship was, how he opened up to many of us the importance and usefulness, indeed, indispensability, of the critical study of the Scriptures, how he was the inspiration for many of us and the source of our motivation to follow in his steps, to the best of our ability. And as I glance at that house I thank God for George Ladd and how much he has meant to so many.

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Experience for yourself the remarkable impact G.E. Ladd has had on biblical scholarship with many of his important works in Logos.

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