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G.I. Lehman, Old Testament Prof, Dies

Posted on August 31st, 2007

“A teacher in whose classroom wit and wisdom vied for supremacy.”

G.I. Lehman
G. Irvin (“G.I.”) Lehman, professor emeritus of Old Testament at EMU.

That was one of many tributes paid to G. Irvin (“G.I.”) Lehman at a recognition and retirement dinner held in his honor May 1, 1980 at EMU.

Dr. Lehman died Monday, Aug. 27, at Oak Lea Nursing Home in Harrisonburg, Va. He was 92.

Lehman, a professor emeritus of Old Testament at EMU, taught at the former Eastern Mennonite School, 1940-41, and rejoined the EMU Bible and religion department in 1952, teaching Old Testament courses there until 1976. In 1965, he was also named to the Eastern Mennonite Seminary faculty and later taught there full time until retirement.

“G. Irvin was famous for delivering many pithy one-liners in class, one of which was, ‘He (or she!) who throws mud always loses ground.’ Great advice for future pastors!” said EMU President Loren Swartzendruber.

“Dr. Lehman was one of my favorite college profs,” said Jim Bishop, public information officer at EMU. “He brought what I perceived as dusty Old Testament text and characters to life even as he brightened that dingy basement classroom where he held forth in the old administration building.

“I’ll never forget him saying, ‘Before you act, consider first your motives and the consequences,’” Bishop added.

A native of Lancaster, Pa., Lehman was a 1935 graduate of Eastern Mennonite School. He completed his undergraduate studies at Elizabethtown (PA) College and earned a BD degree at Eastern Baptist Seminary, an STM from Hartford Theological Foundation and MA and PhD degrees from New York University.

Lehman began his educational career as a teacher in the Pennsylvania public school system in 1935. His extensive service overseas included directing a medical relief unit in Nazareth, Ethiopia; and teaching English at American University, Beirut, Lebanon; and at Anatolia College, Salonika, Greece.

He led numerous study tours and seminars in the Middle East over the years and lectured widely on his experiences there.

Lehman served on an editorial committee in the preparation of the “New International Bible,” a modern English translation sponsored by the New York International Bible Society.

He was a member of many national and and international learned societies and served as president of the National Association of Professors of Hebrew.

Locally, he served many years as chairman or a board member of the Harrisonburg Salvation Army. He was a member of Park View Mennonite Church.

He was proceeded in death by his wives, Edith Vanderploeg Lehman and Verna Yeager Lehman. Surviving are three sons, George Nathan, Peter Daniel and Timothy Joseph Lehman; a daughter, Eunice L. Kerbs; two sisters and four grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Sept. 1 at Park View Mennonite Church, with burial in Weavers Church cemetery west of Harrisonburg.

Memorial contributions may be sent to Mennonite Central Committee, PO Box 500, Akron, PA 17501.

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