Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Dr Victor Pfitzner


Emeritus Lecturer

Dr Victor Pfitzner taught at ALC from 1968 to 2004 in the area of New Testament, and served as principal from 1989 to 1997. Following his retirement from full-time teaching the December 2005 edition of the Lutheran Theological Journal (LTJ 39/2 & 3) contained an editorial tribute and articles written in his honour.


Vic was born at Pinnaroo, on 14 October 1937, but spent his formative years at Loxton, where his father Carl Pfitzner was pastor. The kind and loving example of his parents, Carl and Elvera, combined with the powerful impression left by visiting missionaries from Papua New Guinea, instilled in Vic the sense that God was calling him into the public ministry.

Following his ordination in January 1961, Vic undertook doctoral studies in Münster, Germany. Knowing of his prowess as an Australian Rules footballer—Vic played for West Adelaide in the South Australian National Football League from 1958 to 1960 and even gained selection in the state team—his doctoral supervisor Karl Heinrich Rengstorf suggested that Paul's use of athletic terminology in clarifying his struggle for the gospel would make a good topic for a thesis.

After a short period of parish ministry in Queensland, Vic was called in 1967 to Concordia Seminary in Highgate, South Australia. He became a member of Luther Seminary's founding faculty in 1968 at the age of 31.

Vic's literary output has covered a wide range of topics, including biblical narrative and rhetoric, hermeneutics, Christian spirituality, the charismatic movement, ecumenical dialogue, the role of women in the church, justice and human rights, and the church's ministry of care. Vic has also taken the time to write popular commentaries and Bible survey courses for use in congregational settings. His international reputation led to guest lectureships in the USA, Yugoslavia and Papua New Guinea, and nearer to home at St Francis Xavier Seminary, Adelaide College of Divinity, and the Catholic Adult Education Service.

First and foremost Vic is a man of the church, an intentionally Lutheran theologian. Who could count the papers he has written for the Commission on Theology and Inter-Church Relations (CTICR)? Who could tell how many difficult issues he has been able to help the church work through, by applying the counsel of the Bible and the wisdom of the church to the matter under review, while showing profound respect for people holding opposing views?

After the consolidation of the union between the LCA's two predecessor churches, Vic presided over a commission whose members were able to debate matters openly and candidly as brothers and sisters within the family, especially when confronting the difficult question of the ordination of women. Vic himself would be the last person to comment, but few would disagree that he succeeded in generating healthy debate and harmony within the CTICR, as its chair, before stepping down after the 2003 synod. That legacy remains in place to this day.

Retirement means that Vic is now able to spend more time with family and pursuing his several hobbies. But teaching is Vic's passion, so he continues to visit the churches of South East Asia to offer occasional courses, as health and strength permit.

ALC positions held

  • Lecturer, Concordia Seminary, 1967
  • Lecturer, Luther Seminary, 1968–2004
  • Principal, Luther Seminary, 1989–1997

Qualifications in detail

  • BA (University of Adelaide, 1958)
  • DTh (University of Münster, Germany, 1964)

Papers and publications



Issues at the borders of life. Edited with Bernadette Richards. Adelaide, SA: Australian Theological Forum.


Ordination of women: interdenominational perspectives. Edited with Cathy Thomson. Adelaide, SA: Australian Theological Forum.


Faith matters: theology for church and world: collected essays by Gordon Watson, Edited with Hilary Regan. Adelaide, SA: Australian Theological Forum.


Jesus in John’s gospel. Australian biblical project. Strathfield, NSW: St Paul’s Publications.

The task of theology today: doctrines and dogmas. Edited with Hilary Regan. Edinburgh, UK: T & T Clark.

Kekuatan dalam Kelemahan: tafsiran atas Surat 2 Korintus [Strength in weakness, Indonesian]. Jakarta: Gunung Mulia.


Hebrews. Abingdon New Testament Commentaries. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

From suffering to glory: a commentary on 1 Peter. Adelaide, SA: Luther Campus.


Strength in weakness. Chi Rho Commentary on Second Corinthians. Adelaide, SA: Lutheran Publishing House.


Work the word. 2nd rev. ed. Minneapolis, MN: Crossways International.


Gospel according to St John. Chi Rho Commentary. Adelaide, SA: Lutheran Publishing House.


Masterplan: following God’s plan through the Bible. Adelaide, SA: Lutheran Publishing House.


First Corinthians. Chi Rho Commentary. Adelaide, SA: Lutheran Publishing House.

New Testament backgrounds: a bibliography. Adelaide, SA: Luther Seminary.


Hebrews. Chi Rho Commentary. Adelaide, SA: Lutheran Publishing House.

The prayer of the kingdom: daily meditations for Lent on the Lord’s Prayer. Adelaide, SA: Lutheran Publishing House.

God so loved: a study of the Gospel according to John with suggestions for prayer and meditation. Adelaide, SA: Lutheran Publishing House.


Led by the Spirit: how charismatic is New Testament Christianity? Adelaide, SA: Lutheran Publishing House.


Paul and the agon motif: traditional athletic imagery in the Pauline literature. Supplements to Novem Testamentum XVI. Doctoral diss. Leiden, DE: E. J. Brill.



‘From the Invincible Sun to Christ the Pantocrator: tracing an iconographic trajectory on Roman and Byzantine coinage.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 50, no. 1: 40–54.


‘We are the champions! Origins and developments of the image of God’s athletes.’ Sport and spirituality: an exercise in everyday theology. Edited by Gordon Preece and Rob Hess. Adelaide, SA: ATF Press.


‘Are you the one? Expository preaching of Matthew 11:2–11 for Advent.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 42, no. 3: 141–48.


‘To convict, to convert and to persuade: a Lutheran approach to preaching as Christian rhetoric’. Lutheran Theological Journal 39, nos. 2&3: 235–42.


‘Where tradition and context meet: the Christology of Hebrews as theological paradigm.’ The Task of Theology Today. Vol. 3: 63–80.

‘The messianic era in Christian perspective.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 37, no. 2: 81–87.


‘The rhetoric of Hebrews: paradigm for preaching.’ Good Shepherding: A Journal of Christian Ministry for Elders in the Worldwide Church of God 6, no. 4: 15–22.


‘The spirit of the Lord: the Christological focus of Pauline pneumatology.’ Starting with the Spirit: The Task of Theology Today. Vol. 2. 113–32.


‘Do we need bishops? Australian and international discussions between Anglicans and Lutherans.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 34, no. 1: 14–26.

‘Here we stand.’ Eureka Street 10, no. 4: 12, 13.

‘Pro-JDDJ: another look at the JDDJ.’ With Mark Worthing. Dialog 39, no. 2: 141–43.


‘The spirit of the Lord: the Christological focus of Pauline pneumatology.’ St Mark’s Review 179: 3–11.

(With Lance Steicke) ‘Changing roles for women in the Lutheran Church of Australia: a survey.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 33, no. 3: 136–46.


‘Luther as interpreter of the Gospel of John.’ Perspectives on Martin Luther: Papers from the Luther Symposium, March 1996. Edited by M. W. Worthing, 117–27.


‘Christ the intercessor: the praying Christ of John 17.’ Heritage of faith: essays in honour of Arnold D. Hunt. Edited by George W. Potter. Morphett Vale, SA: George W. Potter, 49–64.


‘Worshipping with the angels.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 29, no. 2: 50–60.


‘The rhetoric of Hebrews: paradigm for preaching.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 27, no. 1: 3–12.


‘Proclaiming the name: cultic narrative and eucharistic proclamation in First Corinthians.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 25, no. 1: 15–26.


(With J T E Renner) ‘Justice and human rights: some biblical perspectives.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 24, no. 1: 7–10.

‘The King will have the last word! (Matthew 25:31–46)’. Lutheran Theological Journal 24, no. 1: 23–26.


‘Out of the ghetto—into the family.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 23, no. 1: 3–10.


‘Alive for Australia: Christian reflections in the bicentennial year of 1988.’ Official Report. Twenty First Regular Convention. Lutheran Church of Australia. New South Wales District.


‘New Testament reading for busy pastors.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 21, no. 3: 133–41.


‘They knew it was the Lord: the place and function of John 21:1–14.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 20, no. 2&3: 64–75.


‘Bible perspectives.’ According to plan: teacher’s guide. Adelaide, SA: Lutheran Publishing House.

‘Luther as interpreter of John’s Gospel, with special reference to his sermons on the of John’s Gospel.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 18, no. 2: 65–73.


‘The charm of biblical narrative.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 17, no. 1: 1–12.


‘The time and the tides: some thoughts on communicating the Gospel in contemporary Australian society.’ Official report. Fifteenth Regular Convention. Lutheran Church of Australia, Victorian District, 21–31.

‘Purified community—purified sinner: expulsion from the community according to Matthew 18:15–18 and 1 Corinthians 5:1–5.’ Australian Biblical Review 30: 34–55.

‘The two-source hypothesis under attack: ethics and theological debate’. Lutheran Theological Journal 16, no. 2: 98–99.

‘Contrast in method in New Testament theology’. Lutheran Theological Journal 16, no. 2: 105–07.


‘Office and charism in Paul and Luke.’ Colloquium 13, no. 2: 28–38.

‘Martyr and hero: the origin and development of a tradition in the early Christian martyr-acts.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 15, no. 1&2: 9–17.


‘“Pneumatic” apostleship? Apostle and Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles.’ Wort in der Zeit. Neutestamentliche Studien. Festgabe für Karl Heinrich Rengstorf zum 75. edited by Wilfred Haubeck and Michael Bachmann. Leiden, DE: E J Brill, 210–35.


‘Pointers to New Testament study today.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 13, no. 1: 7–14.

‘The school of Jesus: Jesus-traditions in Pauline parenesis.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 13, no. 2&3: 22–36.


‘Suffering—devilish or divine? An exegetical and homiletical study of 1 Peter 5:5b–11.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 12, no. 1: 18–23.

‘Good songs in bad times: an exegetical and homiletical study of Ephesians 5:15–21.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 12, no. 2: 45–53.

‘The epiphany of grace: an exegetical and homiletical study of Titus 2:11–14.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 12, no. 3: 107–13.


‘The coronation of the king: passion narrative and passion theology in the Gospel of St John.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 10, no. 1: 1–12.

‘What I think I said was…—some further thoughts on spiritual renewal.’ Forum 69 8, no. 3&4: 12–18.


‘Die kraft des Heiligen Geistes [The power of the Holy Spirit].’ Evangelium-Gospel Euangelion 2, no. 1: 5–17.

‘Continuity and discontinuity—the Lucan view of history in Acts.’ Theologia Crucis: Studies in Honour of Hermann Sasse. Edited by Henry P Hamann. Adelaide, SA: Lutheran Publishing House, 33–49.


Translation of V. Vajta. ‘The cry for a mediator.’ Forum 69 6, no. 3: 21–26.

‘Justification and the mission of the church.’ Official report. Seventh Regular Convention. Lutheran Church of Australia. New South Wales District. 24–34.


Translation of O. Perels. ‘Theses on Baptism.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 7, no. 2: 80, 81.

‘Luke in the Spotlight.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 7, no. 3: 131–34

How to be a saint: studies in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Adelaide, SA: Youth Board. Lutheran Church of Australia.


Translation of K-H. Rengstorf. ‘The Lord’s prayer: a prayer for the world.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 6, no. 1: 3–13.

‘Homosexuality and the Christian.’ Forum 69 4, no. 2: 9–14.

(With H. P. Hamann) ‘The view from the pew’ in ‘A symposium on preaching.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 6, no. 2: 59–63.

‘The Holy Spirit and the truth of salvation.’ Official report. Convention of the Fourth General Synod. Lutheran Church of Australia, 87–98.


‘Christ and community: the corporate life of the church.’ Official report. Fourth Regular Convention. Lutheran Church of Australia. Victorian District, 32–41.

‘The theology of the cross—1 Corinthians 1–4.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 5, no. 1: 21–32.

Translation of ‘Constitution of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 5, no. 2: 81–87.

‘General priesthood and ministry.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 5, no. 3: 97–110.


‘Faith—its origins.’ ‘Faith and justification.’ ‘Faith and doctrine.’ ‘Faith and intellect.’ Basic studies in Christianity. Adelaide, SA: Lutheran Student Fellowship, 35–59.

‘The biblical concept of truth.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 4, no. 1: 1–17.

‘New Testament books.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 4, no. 3: 104–115.

‘The end of moral imperialism—a second word.’ Forum 69 1, no. 5: 2–4.


‘The unity of the New Testament.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 3, no. 2: 59–71.

‘The role of the educated laity and the theology of the church.’ Forum 69 1, no. 1: 3–9.


‘Fitting participation in the Lord’s Supper in light of 1 Corinthians 11:27–29.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 2, no. 1: 16–28.


‘New Testament Notes.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 1, no. 2: 106–09


‘The hermeneutical problem and preaching.’ Australasian Theological Review 37, no. 2&3: 79–96.

‘Is there a ministry of healing as an integral part of the ministry of the church?’ Australasian Theological Review 37, no. 4: 124–33.