Former OT professor Larry Walker dies at 88

Alex Sibley
| Mar 10, 2021

Larry Lee Walker, professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1967 to 1980, died on March 8. He was 88. 

“Larry Walker was an Old Testament scholar and stalwart defender of the full authority and truthfulness of Scripture who impacted countless students at Southwestern Seminary and his other teaching posts,” said Southwestern Seminary President Adam W. Greenway. “I was saddened to learn of his passing, but rejoice that his faith in Jesus Christ has now become sight.”

Walker was born on July 11, 1932, to Gilbert A. and Eleanora L. Walker in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Bob Jones University in 1955, his Bachelor of Divinity from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1958, his Master of Arts from Wheaton College in 1959, and his Ph.D. from Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1967. He did additional studies at John Brown University, Grace Theological Seminary, and the Institute for Linguistics at the University of Michigan. 

While attending Bob Jones University, Walker met Rebecca Elizabeth Brown. They were married in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1957 after she finished nursing school. They had five children. 

Walker taught in public schools for two years in the areas of English, history, and social studies. He joined the faculty at Southwestern Seminary in 1967, serving for 13 years. From 1980 to 1997, he taught at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee. Following his retirement, he served as a visiting professor at Gateway Seminary, Beeson Divinity School, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Tyndale Theological Seminary in Holland.

Walker teaching at Southwestern Seminary.

Walker was a member of the advisory board for the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, and he was one of the 13 original members of the Committee on Bible Translation of the New York Bible Society, which produced the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. Walker was also a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Biblical Research Society, and the Evangelical Theological Society. 

Al Jackson, a 1975 Master of Divinity graduate of Southwestern Seminary and pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, Alabama, says, “Larry Walker was my Hebrew professor during my student days at Southwestern Seminary. As a founding member of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, he was on the first wave of the Conservative Resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was a valiant defender of the veracity and trustworthiness of the Old Testament when few Old Testament scholars were willing to take a stand.”

Walker contributed to numerous publications, including the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Hebrew Theological Word Book, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, The New International Commentary, Current Issues in Biblical and Patristic Interpretation, and the Tyndale Family Bible Encyclopedia

John D. Massey, dean of the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions at Southwestern Seminary, studied under Walker. He says Walker “had a profound influence on my life as a young seminarian in his Hebrew classes at Mid-America Seminary in the early 1990s. He had a deep love for God’s Word and passed that along to his students. He modeled fidelity to God’s truth and Christlike character in all of his interactions with each of his students. His legacy will live on well beyond his time on earth. I’m honored to have sat at his feet as a student.”

Walker was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Rebecca, in 2018, and his son, Craig Allen Walker, in 2010. 

He is survived by his four children, David, Daniel, Linda, and Melissa; 10 grandchildren; and one brother, Dave Walker of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

A memorial service will be held at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary on Saturday, March 13, at 10:00 a.m. Memorial donations may be sent in his name to Camp Living Water, 1510 W. Deep Creek Rd., Bryson City, NC 28713.