See the English version of the obituary on Milton Schwantes below.

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Prof. Dr. Milton Schwantes, São Paulo, Brasilien,

Dr. h.c. der Philipps-Universität Marburg

Am 1. März 2012 verstarb in São Paulo, Brasilien, nach schwerer Erkrankung, einer der profiliertesten Befreiungstheologen Lateinamerikas: Milton Schwantes, geboren 1946 in Carazinho, RS, als vierter Sohn deutschstämmiger Landwirte. Alle Brüder suchten eine akademische Ausbildung. Milton absolvierte 1958-1970 die theologischen Kurse in São Leopoldo, RS (am Instituto Pré-Teológico und an der Faculdade de Teologia), ging dann zur Promotion im Fach Altes Testament nach Heidelberg (bei H.W. Wolff, Dissertation: „Das Recht der Armen“, 1974).

Erstaunlich, mit welcher Wachheit sich die junge brasilianische Theologengeneration z.T. gegen ihre Lehrer von den deutschen Traditionen (z.B. der Debatte Barth-Bultmann) löste und sich den einheimischen, kontextuellen Problemen zuwendete (Vordenker: Richard Shaull; Ruben Alves; Harvey Cox; Gustavo Gutierrez usw.). Zurück in Brasilien verband Milton nach Möglichkeit Pfarr- und Lehramt, auch nach dem Wechsel in eine alttestamentliche Dozentur an der Fac Teol der IECLB (Igreja Evangélica de Confissão Luterana no Brasil) im Jahre 1978. Um in der Nähe einfacher Menschen zu sein, lehnte er die Professorenwohnung auf dem „heiligen Berg“ und den Dozenten-Gehaltsbonus ab und lebte mit seiner ersten Frau in einer „casa popular“ (5×5 m Holzbude) eines Arbeiterviertels. Militärdiktatur (1964-1985) und Massenelend waren für Milton theologisch relevante Anstöße, die Bibel aus der Perspektive der Unterdrückten und Ausgeschlossenen zu lesen und für ihre „Befreiung“ einzutreten. Seine Lehrtätigkeit an der Fac Teol und seit 1987 an der Universidade Metodista in São Bernardo do Campo war in gleichem Maße wissenschaftlich und praktisch ausgerichtet, begeisterte zahllose Studierende und Doktoranden aus vielen Ländern und brachte eine Flut von exegetischer Literatur hervor. In seiner Laudatio zur Verleihung der Ehrendoktorwürde der Philipps-Universität Marburg am 14.11.2002 würdigte Rainer Kessler ihn als mannigfachen theologischen Brückenbauer, welcher der alttestamentlichen Exegese und Predigt starke, nachhaltige Impulse gegeben hat. Wir denken an ihn in Trauer und Dankbarkeit.

Erhard S. Gerstenberger

http://staff-www.uni-marburg.de/~gersterh/deutsch/d_home.htm

Obituary

Prof. Dr. Milton Schwantes, São Paulo, Brazil

It is with deep sadness and a sense of personal loss that I want to communicate to colleagues in the US and other countries the passing away, on Thursday, March 1, 2012, of one of the most eminent Old Testament scholars in the southern hemisphere: Prof. Milton Schwantes, born in 1946 to German descent farmers in the state of Rio Grande do Sul (Southern Brazil). Milton took his theological formation at the IECLB (Igreja Evangélica de Confissão Luterana no Brasil)-schools at São Leopoldo, RS, from 1958 to 1970. Then he went to Heidelberg, Germany, to earn a doctoral degree in Old Testament studies with H.W. Wolff (1970-1974). Back to Brazil he became a parish minister (by own predilection and church regulations) before he joined the Faculdade de Teologia of São Leopoldo in 1978 as an Old Testament docent. Astonishingly, from early student times on, Milton and other colleagues of his, moved away from merely copying German theological discourses like the post-war Barth-Bultmann controversies. Younger Brazilian theologians wanted to overcome cultural frontiers, integrate themselves into Latin American societies, do theology within their own contexts, often against outspoken resistance of their traditional-minded churches and teachers. Military dictatorship and mass impoverishment became theologically relevant factors for them (catholic base communities and liberation movements also served as incentives). Radical renewal of unjust social conditions was one of their prime concerns, and the Bible gave ample guidance to them. Richard Shaull, Ruben Alves, Harvey Cox became some of their stimulators. Milton preferred to work as a pastor and a teacher at the same time. He lived among ordinary citizens in a poor neighborhood, never stopped to engage in parish work, and taught on the “holy hill” of São Leopoldo (Morro do Espelho), since 1987 at the Universidade Metodista de São Bernardo do Campo, SP. Given his excellent command of ancient languages, methodological skills, theological insights and lucidity of speech he impressed and inspired scores of students and doctoral candidates. His renown spread over all of Latin America, so say the least. His concise and eye-opening biblical studies are legion, and larger enterprises he sparked, like journals, series of commentaries, and the famous “Bibliografia Bíblica Latino-Americana” continue to thrive and fertilize biblical scholarship. Twice he received an honorary doctoral degree: of Philipps-University Marburg (2002) and of ITESP (Instituto Teológico São Paulo, 2008). A comprehensive translation of a large part of his work into English would be a blessing for many people dedicated to Bible reading. – Milton leaves behind his wife Rosi and three daughters.

Erhard S. Gerstenberger

http://staff-www.uni-marburg.de/~gersterh/