In Memoriam: Rev. John H. Stek

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March 7, 1925 – June 6, 2009

Rev. John Henry Stek, pastor, Bible scholar and translator, meticulous exegete, diligent professor, and role model for a generation of seminary students, died June 6 from lymphoma.

Stek was born was born in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and grew up on the farm of his parents, William and Gertie Stek. He maintained a lifelong love of tilling the soil by growing vegetables and flowers.

Following high school, he served in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1946, seeing action in the battle of Okinawa, and, subsequently, serving in the occupation forces in Korea. He returned to the U.S. in 1946 and married Nadine Ruth De Bruin in 1948.

Stek graduated from Calvin College in 1949 and from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1952. He pursued graduate studies at Westminster Theological Seminary, which awarded him a Th.M. degree in 1955. That same year he was ordained to gospel ministry in the Christian Reformed Church.

Synod 1961 appointed him to teach Old Testament studies at Calvin Seminary, and he spent the rest of his career there. He interrupted his teaching career with studies at the University of Chicago from 1965 to 1966, and doctoral work at the Free University of Amsterdam from 1973 to 1974. 

Stek was a soft-spoken, somewhat introverted scholar, godly and sincere, beloved by students and colleagues alike. He was widely respected for his Bible knowledge and his exegetical skills.

He was an acknowledged leader among evangelical Bible translators. Much of his scholarly energy was focused on the New International Version (NIV) Bible translation, published in 1978, and the Today's New International Version (TNIV), published in 2003. In 1978 he began the arduous task of producing the NIV Study Bible, which was published in 1985 and fully revised in 2002.

Stek retired in 1991.

Stek also served the denomination on several synodical study committees: Infallibility (1959-1961), Neo-Pentecostalism (1971-1973), Revision of the Form of Subscription (1974-1976), and Interchurch Relations (1975-1981). He was a widely published writer of articles and scholarly papers, and his influence reached throughout the evangelical world.

Stek is survived by his wife, Nadine; by their children Ruth and Douglas Paauwe, Douglas and Lisa Stek, Stanley and Cyndy Stek, and David and Janice Stek; and by 16 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

About the Author

Louis Tamminga is the Banner's writer of In Memoriams for pastors.

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