Dr Jeff Silcock
These biographical notes are taken from the Lutheran Theological Journal tribute to Dr Jeffrey Silcock on his retirement from ALC in late 2016.
Jeff was ordained as a pastor of the Lutheran Church of Australia in 1980. Years in parish ministry were relatively short, finishing with the role of associate pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Adelaide (1986–89), but his entire theological career has focussed on the task of equipping people for service in the church, especially for the public ministry of word and sacrament.
Postgraduate studies in systematics at Concordia Seminary, St Louis, under Australian scholar, Dr. Norman Nagel, led to a doctorate in systematic theology with a special interest in Luther.
Included in these years (1990–95) were fifteen months of Luther research in Erlangen, Germany. In 1996 Jeff commenced lecturing in systematic theology at Luther Seminary (now ALC); for more than two decades he proved to be an excellent teacher with the learning needs of students his first priority. Thoroughness combined with tact and gentleness helped to endear him to students. Doctoral candidates whose work he supervised will readily attest to his wise and patient direction.
Few lecturers at Luther Seminary/ALC have travelled abroad as much as Jeff, often accompanied by his wife Pam, but frequent trips have not been mere tourist jaunts. He attended numerous theological conferences, mainly in Germany and Scandinavia, where he presented papers, many of which have been published. He has also been active in teaching Lutheran theology to pastors in South East Asia, at Kota Kinabalu (East Malaysia), Kuala Lumpur (West Malaysia), and Medan (Indonesia). Travel has been required to attend meetings of the Lutheran-Orthodox International Joint Commission of which he has been a member since 2000 and has often served on the drafting committee.
Closer to home, Jeff has been a valued member of the Lutheran-Uniting Church Dialogue since 1997, and its co-chair from 2006 to 2018. In 1998 he became a member of the LCA’s Commission on Social and Bioethical Questions, but his most important theological leadership role within the Church began in 2000 when he became a member of the Commission on Theology and Inter-Church Relations. As its chair from 2006, he has given even-handed and wise direction during discussions on a number of challenging and sometimes contentious issues.
Attendance at the 2002 Luther Research Congress in Copenhagen was especially memorable because it was here that Jeff first met Oswald Bayer and arranged to assist in the translation of his Theologie, published in 2007 under the title Theology the Luther way (Eerdmans). Sundry articles by Oswald Bayer have been translated by Jeff for publication, most of which have appeared in Lutheran Quarterly. This collaboration with Bayer will hopefully see the English version of his ground-breaking book Promissio appear in 2019. The original study, first published in 1971, won an award and was hailed by Luther scholars as a ground-breaking piece of research. To this day it continues to be a sine qua non for any serious Luther research. Jeff’s ongoing contribution in making Bayer’s works accessible to the English speaking world deserves special commendation.
Praise for Jeff as translator must include the book by Bayer’s wife Athina Lexutt, A year with Luther: readings from the great reformer for our times, published 2017 (ATF), and translations of Luther’s Antinomian Disputations scheduled to appear in the American Edition of Luther’s Works: ‘Disputations I’ in LW 72 and ‘Disputations II’ in LW 73.
At a time when ties have been strengthened with Lutheran Churches in the USA, especially with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Jeff has given outstanding service in keeping alive cherished links with Germany (at Erlangen, Neuendettelsau, and now Tübingen through Bayer) as well as Scandinavia (especially Helsinki). In many ways he has been able to bridge two theological worlds. Though educated in the USA, almost all of his scholarly connections are with Europe. Other conferences he has attended, such as the International Löhe Society at Neuendettelsau and the Dies Academicus at Oberursel, serve as meeting points between German and North American scholars.
Since retirement, Jeff has remained research active and is currently supervising a doctoral candidate working in the area of Luther’s ecclesiology.
ALC positions held
- Vicarage Coordinator (1996–2008)
- Head of Systematic Theology and Church History Department (from 2002)
- Postgraduate Research Coordinator (2009–2012)
- Associate Dean for Research (2012-2016)
Qualifications in detail
- Bachelor of Theology (Luther Seminary, North Adelaide, 1977)
- Bachelor of Arts (University of Adelaide, 1980)
- Master of Sacred Theology (Concordia Seminary, St Louis USA, 1993)
- Doctor of Theology (Concordia Seminary, St Louis USA, 1996)
- Ordained 21 December 1980, Nazareth, South Brisbane Qld
Papers and publications
‘The significance of the Theopaschite Formula for Lutheran Christology: another look at divine impassibility.’ In ‘Die einigende Mitte’: Theologie in konfessioneller und ökumenischer Verantwortung, edited by Christoph Barnbrock and Gilberto da Silva, 368–383. Göttingen: Edition Ruprecht.
‘A Lutheran approach to eschatology.’ Lutheran Quarterly 31 (Winter): 373–395.
‘Christian Hope and Hope for Eternal Life.’ In Oxford Encyclopedia of Martin Luther, Vol 1. Derek Nelson and Paul Hinlicky, eds. New York: Oxford University Press, 636–655.
‘Martin Luther and the Lutheran Heritage in Australia.’ Proceedings of Seminar held at Lutherische Theologische Hochschule, Oberursel, 2015 on the theme ‘Martin Luther: Uni-Confessional-Multi-Cultural’. Göttingen: Edition Ruprecht.
Paper for Luther Conference (Melbourne): ‘A fresh look at the Theology of the Cross: what it meant for Luther and its significance for us today.’
‘Löhe on the Formation of the Spiritual Life.’ In Wilhelm Löhe und Bildung—Wilhelm Loehe and Christian Formation. Loehe Theological Conference IV of the International Loehe Society, 23–27 July 2014, Neuendettelsau, edited by Dietrich Blaufuß and Jacob Corzine, 59–79.
Translation: Athina Lexutt. A year with Luther: readings from the great reformer for our times. Hindmarsh, SA: ATF.
‘Christian freedom and responsibility.’ In Introduction to Lutheran Ethics. Edited by Michael Press, 29–53. Sabah, East Malaysia: Lutheran Study Centre, Sabah Theological Seminary.
‘Justification and Sanctification’, in Introduction to Lutheran Ethics. Edited by Michael Press, 93–108. Sabah, East Malaysia: Lutheran Study Centre, Sabah Theological Seminary.
Studies in Lutheran Ethics, book chapters in a publication by Lutheran Study Centre, Sabah Theological Seminary, edited by Michael Press.
‘Luther on the Holy Spirit and his use of God’s word.’ Chapter 20 in The Oxford handbook of Martin Luther‘s theology, edited by Robert Kolb, Irene Dingel, and L'ubomír Batka. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Translation: Oswald Bayer, ‘How I became a Luther scholar.’ Lutheran Quarterly 27, no. 3: 249–263.
‘A Lutheran approach to the ministry of deliverance.’ Lutheran Forum 47, no. 4: 51–57.
‘Jacob’s ladder—a bridge between heaven and earth: reading Genesis 28:10–22 against the grain of modernity.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 46, no. 3: 179–188.
‘Selective eucharistic hospitality between Lutheran and Uniting Church congregations in Australia’ in Die Leuenberger Konkordie im innerlutherischen Streit: Internationale Perspektiven aus drei Konfessionen, edited by Werner Klän und Gilberto da Silva, Edition Ruprecht, 152–168.
Translation: Oswald Bayer. ‘A public mystery.’ Lutheran Quarterly 26, no. 2: 125–141.
‘The truth of divine impassibility: a new look at an old argument’, Lutheran Theological Journal 45, no. 3 (Dec): 198–207.
Translation: Oswald Bayer. ‘Philosophical modes of thought of Luther’s theology as an object of inquiry: a sketch.’ In When reason is a whore: the quandary of Lutheran philosophy, edited by Jennifer Hockenbery Dragseth. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.
‘The role of the Spirit in creation.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 44, no. 1 (May): 4–14.
Translation: Oswald Bayer. ‘Preaching the word.’ Lutheran Quarterly 23: 249–269.
‘Theology and proclamation: towards a Lutheran framework for preaching.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 42, no. 3 (Dec): 131–140.
‘Freiheit und Gesetz.’ Oberurseler Hefte 47: 29–42.
Translation: Oswald Bayer. Theology the Lutheran way. Edited and translated by Jeffrey Silcock and Mark Mattes. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
‘Law, gospel, and repentance in Luther’s antinomian disputations’, in Luther-Bulletin: Tijdschrift voor interconfessioneel Lutheronderzoek 16, 41–56.
‘Church and politics.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 40, no. 2 (Aug): 51–61.
Law and gospel in Luther's Antinomian disputations: with special reference to faith’s use of the law. ThD dissertation. Concordia Seminary, St Louis, MO.
- Translation of Oswald Bayer’s Promissio book (Fortress 2019)
- Translation: Martin Luther, ‘The Antinomian Disputations.’ In Luther’s Works, American Edition, volume 73 (Disputations II). Christopher Boyd Brown, general editor. St Louis: Concordia. (Forthcoming 2020)
- Translation: Martin Luther, Selected Doctoral Disputations. In Luther’s Works, American Edition, volume 72 (Disputations I). Christopher Boyd Brown, general editor. St Louis: Concordia. (Forthcoming 2021)