The hiking deaths of two Old Testament professors.

In 1979 Covenant Seminary professor J. Barton Payne died from a fall while climbing Mt. Fuji on sabbatical in Japan. In 1996 Denver Seminary professor Bob Alden died of a heart attack shortly after hiking in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

I had learned about each of these cases some years ago, but conflated them in my mind. I wanted to make this post then to keep these two cases distinct in my mind and to bring them to the knowledge of those who have not heard of these men.

The similarity in the cases is that these were both Old Testament professors of Conservative reformed persuasion, both died in their late 50s, and both died in connection with hiking.

Two data points, however, is insufficient for even the most ardent empiricist to conclude that middle-aged Old Testament professors should avoid hiking.

I’ll post below images of the obituaries for each of these men. And if others knew them or anything else related to their deaths, please let me know.


3 thoughts on “The hiking deaths of two Old Testament professors.”

  1. Thank you for bringing this to our.attention, Doug. I never knew.of the somewhat unique circumstances of each man’s death. I have admittedly only heard of J. Barton Payne before as being the author of a pretty well-regarded book on Biblical Theology. If my memory is correct, I seem to recall that Payne differed from Geerhardus Vos insofar that Payne organized old Testament theology around the idea of a “Testament ” rather than a covenant (which Payne did not believe were synonymous terms).

  2. These events you posted could tell us to be careful and dedicate ourselves to the wise stewardship of our time “while in the body.” I am not saying however that these professors weren’t wise in their stewardship.
    I was an avid hiker of Hawaii’s mountains for 30 years until my joints could no longer take it. I now mountain bike which can also be fairly dangerous if ill preparations for the activity is not followed. I always thought of my loved ones in how they would be distressed if I failed to come home from an recreational activity. Oh, previously to hiking, I free dived in Hawaii, mostly alone. It was great. One over-riding principle I followed was, no matter what, I always dove to dive another day. I never pushed for an overwhelming experience at the expense of safety. This has been my recreational creed: enjoy so far as to enjoy another day. God has always repaid my principle. I always at least learned something for my future expeditions.

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