Global Missiology English, Vol 3, No 4 (2007)

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--A Tribute to PAUL G


R. Daniel Shaw, Professor of Anthropology and Translation at Fuller Theological Seminary



(picture of Paul Hiebert

- by Georgia R. Grimes in 1981

   at Fuller Theological Seminary)









The death of Paul Hiebert is a sad day for those who knew him, but a day of rejoicing for Paul.  This is a short background and tribute to a friend, co-author, and fellow missionary kid. 

My good friend Paul Hiebert died in Baltimore, MD on Sunday morning, March 11, 2007.  He was staying with his with his daughter and son-in-law and was under excellent Hospice care through John Hopkins. He died, at 74 of cancer of the lung lining. In his career as a missionary, Paul followed his missionary parents to India, serving under the Mennonite Brethren Board of Mission.  In his career as an anthropologist, Dr. Hiebert taught anthropology at Kansas State University, and the University of Washington.  In his career as a missiologist, he developed the Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies and taught anthropology and mission at Fullers School of World Mission (SWM) in Pasadena, CA and concluded his career at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL.  Between, terms and on sabbaticals he also taught as a visiting professor at Mennonite Brethren Seminary and the University of Wisconsin. He was a Fulbright visiting professor at Osmania University in India for one year and served on the Fulbright Committee. He authored several Anthropological and mission oriented books as

well as an ethnography of an Indian village.  I had the privilege of co-authoring Understanding Folk Religion with Paul and our mutual colleague Tite Tienou.  In his death, as in his life, Paul showed us how to be Christian, how to live and die in a way that reflects our relationship to Christ and to each other.  He was truly a Christian gentle-man. He was ready to meet the God he so faithfully served and be reunited with his beloved, Fran who preceded him in 1999.  Paul was a spiritual giant in the faith, and a consummate academic. His death will be mourned by family, friends and colleagues around the world.

I first met Paul when I was teaching at the University of Washington in the summer of 1974, just before he went to Fuller.  Actually we both attended the same school in South India, but he graduated from high school when I was in the second grade--we had many mutual friends through family connections in India.  When I joined the SWM faculty, I was overwhelmed, just out of the jungles of New Guinea.  Paul sort of took me under his wing and freely gave sage advice.  Once when I was photocopying some materials for class he came into the room to copy something himself.  We got to chatting and he asked me how things were going.  I replied that I felt like a very small tadpole in a pond of big frogs.  Paul smiled, put his hand gently on my shoulder and said, "The truth is, Dan, we are all little frogs and you are one of us."  For me that was a very special moment and remains a wonderful memory of this man whom I had the privilege of knowing, working closely with, co-teaching, authoring, and serving on the same faculty, doctoral committees and other academic concerns.  In my last conversation with him two weeks before his death, he was expounding on his latest thinking about worldview--the topic of one of two books he submitted to Baker for publication in the New Year.  Paul freely shared his life, faith, and intellect, and always with a wry smile and a twinkle in his eye.  I was looking






forward to visiting with him while in the Washington DC area in mid-MarchXit was not to be. We have lost a superlative Christian Anthropologist!  Farewell my friend!














Published in the special issue A Memoriam of Paul G. Hiebert April 1, 2007