Harold Songer, Southern New Testament professor from 1962-1992, dies

Communications Staff — January 26, 2005

Harold Songer, who served as professor of New Testament interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1962-1992, died Jan. 23 in Louisville, Ky., at the age of 77.

Songer was perhaps best known for his work in New Testament scholarship, publishing numerous works in the field including the volume on James in the Broadman Bible Commentary series.

Born in Miami, Fla., Songer was a two-time graduate of Southern Seminary, receiving his Ph.D. and master of divinity from the Louisville seminary. He was also a World War II Coast Guard veteran and served as chairman of evaluation teams for the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities and the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.

Songer began teaching classes at Southern as a doctoral student in 1958 when 13 professors resigned unexpectedly, creating a need for new professors. He was hired as a professor of New Testament interpretation upon his graduation in 1962 and later became the seminary’s vice president for academic affairs until his retirement in 1992.

“Dr. Harold Songer served many years on the faculty of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and had a tremendous impact on the lives of many ministers,” Southern Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. said. “His love for the book of James was the hallmark of his teaching ministry. The Southern Seminary family extends its sympathy to the Songer family.”

Former professor of Christian theology Wayne Ward, who worked closely with Songer throughout his career at Southern, delivered a eulogy at Songer’s funeral Jan. 25 at Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville.

Ward called his friend a committed teacher, churchman and seminary administrator.

“We will always cherish the memory of Harold Songer as a strong but very gentle, even quite private, Christian man,” Ward said.

“He could relate to people personally. He was disciplined and well ordered. He kept things on track..”

“This man helped to continue the ministry of Southern Seminary from 1961 until his retirement. Still teaching as a senior professor, he supervised doctoral students [and] still ministered in the churches. … God bless the ministry and the work of Harold Songer.”

Songer is survived by his wife, Florence Rains Songer; son, Christopher Songer and a sister, Irene Laffe.

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