. . .

Wabash will not seem to be quite right without your presence on campus. I learned much about my faith, more about the Bible, and my life was enriched because you introduced other cultures to this Montgomery County farm boy....

Summer 1998

Tributes to Four Scholar/Teachers: Professor Hall Peebles

"Like the Sun Rising in Strength"

When Hall Peebles H'63 stepped down as faculty secretary in 1996, the College's beloved professor of religion was kind enough to offer his reflections on 38 years at Wabash, which we published in the Summer 1996 issue of Wabash Magazine. To mark his retirement this year after four decades of teaching, we thought we'd let the professor's colleagues and former students do the talking. The following are edited excerpts from a few of the letters sent and speeches given to honor the teacher students fondly refer to as "Yahweh."


Dear Hall,

. . . After four years of benefitting from your commitment to teaching, I graduated with an aspiration and love for learning which surprises me still. From your insistence that we think and respond in classes and not sit as sponges, to your sermon at my ordination, to much-too-infrequent visits back to Crawfordsville, my life and vocation continue to be shaped and influenced by your example and mentoring. What's more, I have taken to wearing white bucks in my mid-life!

Rev. Pierce Klemmt '72
Rector, Christ Church Episcopal

Dear Professor Peebles,

. . . I was searching for something during my short stay at Wabash, and during that search I arrived at your Old Testament course. During those years I had no faith and had closed myself to religion. Your lectures were my first encounter with one who, having weighed all the evidence, had come down on the side of faith. I learned that this was possible, though not for me at the time. Maybe your love for the prophet Amos-I always thought that he was your favorite-rubbed off on me and had some small part in moving me toward Judaism. I consider my conversion to Judaism a great blessing, and it was a blessing also, to be there, then, in your classes.

Ehud Neor (Bill Luce '79)

Dear Dr. Peebles,

. . . As you reflect on your years at Wabash, my brother Lee '83 and I hope you find it gratifying to know the wonderful impact you have had on your students. You have been the epitome of a teacher-your sincere concern for your students' personal, intellectual, and spiritual development has been both distinctive and laudable.

N. Clay Robbins '79
President, Lilly Endowment Inc.

Dear Dr. Peebles,

. . . Wabash will not seem to be quite right without your presence on campus. I learned much about my faith, more about the Bible, and my life was enriched because you introduced other cultures to this Montgomery County farm boy.

Rev. Morris Finch '64
Regional Minister, Disciples of Christ Michigan Region

Dear Professor Peebles,

. . . One fall day in 1984, when I was preparing to register for my classes, a pledge brother recommended that I take Religion 4 with Hall Peebles. I followed his advice and it changed my life. Not only did I become a religion major, I had a "Hall Peebles minor!" The fact that I could take five courses from one instructor speaks to the enormous breadth of your knowledge and wisdom. I have continued my education in the academic study of religion so I know, given the current landscape of the profession, that for one person to have the mastery you do of "things Eastern" as well as "things Western" is quite a rarity indeed . . . .

Nate Hilberg '86
University of Pittsburgh


. . .It will be good for the soul of the College to have you continue to give lectures on China for C&T. We would lose something essential to this place if we could not hear your voice, listen to your pauses, see your characteristic gestures. Students like to joke and say that they hear God, or Yahweh, when you speak, but as with all good jokes, there is some truth in that observation. Your voice comes out of the ancient past of good teaching, of wisdom, humor, and grace.

Professor of Philosophy and Religion Steve Webb '83
Wabash College

Dear Hall,

. . . I'm not sure what has been most important to me-your example as a teacher, your marriage of Paula and me, or your reassuring letter when I was sick with cancer. Your sincere and kind deeds are constantly in my thoughts.

Curtis Schmitt '81
Memphis University School

I remember coming into Professor Peebles' Old Testament class with a great deal of skepticism, figuring this class would only be a glorified version of the Sunday School classes I grew up around. I was wrong. It was in this class that I began to discover that it was all right, even necessary, to approach the Bible from a critical viewpoint. In that class, the stories from the Old Testament took on a new life that has carried me into my 5th year of Christian ministry...
Although I was a religion major, I never intended to become a minister. For Hall, this was not a problem. He encouraged me to explore other avenues for my religion major and not cut off any possibilities. As the Lord would have it, I was called into the ministry shortly after graduating from Wabash. I would never have been open to the call if it were not for the loving acceptance that I received from Hall and the other members of the religion department.

Rev. Thomas C. Bartley '93
Associate Pastor, First Baptist Church, Shelbyville, IN

No tribute to Hall is complete without homage to Emmy, his saucy, sharp, and bright companion in life. I can think of no other member of the Wabash community who enlivened the place so much, nor who had such a share in her spouse's achievements.

Professor of Religion Garrett Paul '71
Chair of the Religion Department, Gustavus Adolphus College

Students are, I think, in the long run never wrong about the quality of teachers. So I have to take the students' nickname for Hall-Yahweh-seriously. And he does have much in common with the Lord of the Hebrew Scriptures. He is, in the words of the first chapter of the book of the prophet Joel, gracious, merciful, and slow to anger.
. . . My own conviction, however, has always been that the closest analogues are not of the eternal Lord of Israel but the Taoist immortals of ancient China. Hall really is a Taoist sage, fit company for the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove.

Professor of Philosophy and Religion Bill Placher '70
Wabash College

Miller - Manker - Hearson

return to table of contents