October 24, 2020

Now in God’s Care: Dr. John Sailhamer

Note from CM: Sorry for the delay in posting today. I worked late last night.

Today I found out that one of my great heroes is now in God’s care. Dr. John Sailhamer, my OT prof at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, died earlier this week. No one influenced me more in my study of the Bible. John was the one who began to open the book of Genesis to me in particular, and I’m finding it hard to express my gratitude and sense of loss this morning.

• • •

Sailhamer, John Herbert

Dr. John Herbert Sailhamer, lion of the Word and faithful follower of Jesus, is safely Home. He passed away January 9, 2017, after a long battle with Parkinson’s and Lewy Body Dementia. Loved by his family and revered by his students, John was an evangelical Old Testament scholar and theologian. His work was characterized by a consistent focus on the canonical text of the Hebrew Bible and the compositional strategies of the biblical authors. The author of over 15 books, various articles and essays, John’s writing has centered on reading the Bible, the Pentateuch in particular, as a unified, coherent whole.

Born in Moline, IL on October 17, 1946, John graduated from Lakewood High School in Lakewood, CA and continued on to receive a BA from California State University, Long Beach; ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary; MA and PhD from the University of California at Los Angeles. Over his 36 year career in the classroom, John taught at Biola University, Bethel Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Western Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. He served his country in the United States Army from 1968 to 1970.

John was married to Patty Sailhamer (nee Engdahl) on June 12, 1971. He is survived by his wife Patty; his children David Sailhamer, Dr. Elizabeth Sailhamer Soukup (Jason), John Christian Sailhamer (Kelly), Peter Sailhamer (Angela); grandchildren Joshua Sailhamer, Sadie Soukup, Allyn Sailhamer, Samuel Soukup, John David Sailhamer, Troy Sailhamer, Simeon Soukup and Evangeline Sailhamer; brother Paul Sailhamer and sister Claudette Miller. John is preceded in death by his parents Claude and Belva Sailhamer.

A memorial service and celebration of his life will be held Friday, January 13 at 4:00 PM, First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, north campus, at 2904 N. Brea Blvd. in Fullerton. Rev Todd Chapman of Richfield Community Church will deliver a short message. A private burial will take place near John’s birthplace of Moline, IL at Kingsbury Country Cemetery. In lieu of flowers please send donations to First Evangelical Free Church (FEFC): Compassion Fund or Disability Family Fund.

Published in Orange County Register on Jan. 12, 2017

• • •

The Pentateuch may be compared to a Rembrandt painting of real persons or events. We do not understand a Rembrandt painting by taking a photograph of the “thing” that Rembrandt painted and comparing it with the painting itself. That may help us understand the “thing” that Rembrandt painted, his subject matter, but it will not help us understand the painting itself. To understand Rembrandt’s painting, we must look at it and see its colors, shapes and textures. In the same way, to understand the Pentateuch, one must look at its colors, contours and textures.

• The Meaning of the Pentateuch

Key Books by Dr. John Sailhamer

“Genesis” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with New International Version: Genesis, Exodus, Levitcus, Numbers Volume 2

NIV Compact Bible Commentary

The Pentateuch as Narrative: A Biblical-Theological Commentary

Introduction to Old Testament Theology: A Canonical Approach

The Meaning of the Pentateuch: Revelation, Composition and Interpretation

Genesis Unbound: A Provocative New Look at the Creation Account


  1. Commiserations for your loss, CM, and that of the world. Parkinson’s is bad enough, but Lewy Body is something that makes release from the body a huge blessing for everyone concerned. Glad your friend is free. His book titles look like fodder for these pages.

  2. His Pentateuch As Narrative opened my eyes.

    I lost a longtime elementary-through-high school classmate/next-door neighbor/best friend to Lewy Body Dementia a couple years ago. It was relatively rapid–a little over two years from beginning to end–and seemed a lot like Parkinson’s–it seemed like physical symptoms more than mental. (per his sister)

    My condolences on your loss.

  3. William H. Martin Jr says

    I am sure the loss of this man is hard as always. The world losses something special in good men when they leave here. Unique and not able to be retrieved. May he live on in your heart till you go and join him. May the Lord have mercy on us all and especially those whose hearts are weeping Today and going forward. Peace and rest Chaplain Mike and thanks for what you do.

  4. Dr. Sailhamer’s work was introduced to me by a friend with an MA in OT Studies. Phenomenal in so many ways. May the Lord grant his servant rest in a place of verdure and light, and make his memory to be eternal.


  5. All is calm, all is bright.

  6. I was recently referred to Dr. Sailhamer as a source of the work coming out of The Bible Project. I have not yet read his work, but if the Bible Project stuff is any indication of his teaching, I certainly will benefit greatly from what he has to offer. I am finding that the OT rising into a higher and higher profile for me in my own study, and preaching and teaching. The work of Jesus is so much clearer, more beautiful and more compelling as I come to greater clarity regarding the God’s work in the covenants, the prophets, and his Chosen People.

    I am saddened to hear of his suffering and death, and grateful for our shared hope in the resurrection. Moreover, I am also grateful for the body of work he left behind to spur me on to greater faith and trust in the LORD who shall bring it about.

  7. Condolences on the loss of your friend and teacher, Mike.

    That photo is a family treasure! And Gail hasn’t changed a bit.

  8. My condolences and prayers, CM.