Grant Osborne

Grant Osborne November 4, 2018

Kris and I grieve today after hearing that my teacher and former colleague, Grant Osborne (1942-2018), passed away in his sleep last night.

We offer consolations to Nancy and to Amber and Susanne.

Grant, famous for his extensive handouts and dialogical classrooms, began his career in Canada and came to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1977 when I was a student. I believe I was in the first class he taught, a class on the Gospel of Matthew. (Did I mention he had a few leisure suits?!)

Grant outlined in detail whole NT books, offered brief sketches of scholarly viewpoints and then usually turned to the “best” view. Jack Dean Kingsbury’s monograph on Matthew was recently in print and that book generated plenty of class discussions. Grant and that class inspired me to do my dissertation in Matthew studies.

Grant invited me to be his TA for a couple years and we had a habit of annoying one another: Grant didn’t care that his books were not all lined up to the edge of the shelf so I eventually got through all his shelves to tidy up his shelves. Which annoyed him. To annoy me back he would push a few books in or turn some spine up or pull a few out, and then say to me, “I feel more comfortable now.”

One of his famous handouts was nothing less than an outline of all the texts in the Bible on eternal security/loss of salvation. His big assignment one year for me was to rewrite and revise the whole thing and add to it some recent scholarship — and that exercise itself both was a deep dive into the subject and changed my mind on the topic.

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

When I returned to TEDS to teach, first as an adjunct and then as part of the NT department, my natural alliances were with Grant. We had endless conversations about all the topics around TEDS and our classes and our mutual interests in the Gospels. Later, when I was at North Park, Grant and I co-edited The Face of New Testament Studies, which next year will be “updated” with The State of New Testament Studies. As I was the junior editor for Face, so I will be senior on the next volume, this time with Nijay Gupta.

Probably his best known book is The Hermeneutical Spiral, and I remember the stacks of books and articles he was reading when the book was in gestation. Grant had been turning his extensive handouts into commentaries, the most recent being The Gospel of John.

The last long-time I spent with Grant was one evening when both of us were teaching at Willow. I drove and Grant was my riding companion. A good long evening of chatting it was. I felt like we were back in his office chatting.

Grant, as many of us have known, suffered from asthma his entire life and said to a family member recently that the first thing he’ll do in heaven is take a deep breath.

Breathe in, brother, you’re in the presence of our glorious God!

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  • Michelle Van Loon

    Beautiful tribute to a faithful man.

  • Ted Johnson

    TY for these words. Took as many of his NT classes at Trinity as I could back in the early 1980s. First course I took from Dr. Osborne was the Gospel of Mark. I remember how that class opened up a whole new world of Gospel studies for me. He was one of my favorite profs. Had many after class discussions with him, some over at the White Horse. Always kind and gracious. I came from a Wesleyan/Arminian background and he was helpful in navigating and developing a more informed and robust approach at TEDS as I took theology classes. Still have notebooks full of his handouts. I am in the middle of working through his commentary on Revelation right now, and that book has taken me back to memories of his classes. So sorry to hear this.

  • Tucker

    Grant affirmed me so many times when certain others did not during my 17 years of was flying from Grand Rapids to teach part-time at TEDS. He was a strong supporter of women; he was edgy, and he did his part to hold the line against the influx of Calvinism. I loved him as a dear brother. Rest in Peace, my friend.

  • Felix Lam

    from Hong Kong, 2003 MDiv grad, Sat in 2 classes, Gospels n Romans, forever remember our beloved teacher!

  • Dr. Osborne was the second reader for my dissertation at TEDS. His seminar on Revelation infused me with interest in the book as well as Jewish apocalyptic literature. This interest became one of the inspirations for my dissertation topic. I will be forever grateful to him, and I miss his big, warm smile now.

  • David Moore

    This post led me to a recent chapel message Osborne gave at TEDS. In it, he mentioned that modern scholars are like the ancient Athenians who loved novelty (per Acts 17:21). It got a strong laugh of agreement. It also led me to do a little study of the passage which made me think more about the ancient paths mentioned in Jer. 6:16. These are the kinds of connections that great Bible teachers motivate us to make!

  • The Hermeneutical Spiral was the text for the Hermeneutics class I took at Covenant College.

  • Sam Lam

    Grant was a wonderful person and a great scholar. Scot was my first reader and Grant was my second for my dissertation. Both of them were incredibly kind and somehow, I passed. Grant attended a PCA church that I also attended. It was wonderful to see his kindness as he interacted with and built up the pastor (for those of you who don’t know, Grant was not reformed but he was loving; maybe those two go together). I will remember one day in a Ph.D. seminar when his heat was broken so he brought his dog “Hershey” to class. We all thought it was great; just another story about a quirky teacher. I will miss seeing him at ETS/SBL this year. I still have those handouts that Grant spoke of and will look back on them fondly today. Breath deeply Dr. Osbourne, breath deeply.

  • Steve C

    I totally agree with Sam. While another reformed pastor would hold his head in his hands in despair at this rookie preacher’s efforts (literally!), Grant, was the consummate encourager, a true scholar of the Gospel.

  • Thanks for posting this, Scot. I am saddened to learn of Grant’s passing. I had Grant for Apocalyptic Literature. I well remember him saying that something in Scripture may not be as well defined as we would like because God wants us to hold some of our theological positions with humility. I think he exemplified that.

  • BenW3

    What a great tribute Scot to a , good teacher, good scholar, good friend, good Christian. We should all be so lucky as to have an obit as good as this one. Blessings, BW3

  • Doug Schroeder

    Thank you for this well-deserved tribute. In the midst of the sadness I had a little chuckle about the leisure suits. I was priveleged to sit under Grant’s teaching at Winnipeg Theological Seminary (now Providence) 1976-79. Lots of polyester back then. Grant opened the doors to the NT for me. I am grateful for his broadening and deepening influence in my life.