DALLAS, Texas—Dr. Roy B. Zuck’s greatest joy was seeing God’s Word change lives. Through the material he wrote or edited, and through the classes he taught at Dallas Theological Seminary, he changed the lives of countless people, who will influence many more generations to come. Dr. Zuck went to be with the Lord on Saturday, March 16. He was 81.
Roy was born Jan. 20, 1932, and raised in Phoenix Ariz. As a boy, he visited his father’s parents’ farm, where he would milk cows and feed chickens. His grandfather spoke to him about the Bible and shared the gospel with him. When he was 10, Roy attended a revival meeting with his grandparents, and he trusted Christ that evening. Roy would later joke that he practiced preaching to the chickens, but they weren’t a very responsive audience.
Only a couple of years later, at age 12, Roy felt called to Christian ministry. In his words: “I just felt that’s what the Lord wanted me to do, and I couldn’t see doing anything else.” Later as a freshman in high school, he wrote to Biola College in southern California to request an application. He thought the Lord might lead him to work overseas, perhaps as a missionary doctor. In 1949 he graduated from Phoenix Union High School and entered Biola.
He graduated cum laude and moved to Dallas to begin the ThM program at Dallas Theological Seminary. There Howard Hendricks sparked Roy’s interest in Christian Education. Roy became Hendricks’s teaching assistant while a student, and he graduated at the top of his class in 1957. He stayed to begin his ThD and served as a teaching fellow in Christian Education and homiletics. (Hendricks died Feb. 20, 2013. Read “Howard Hendricks with the Lord.”)
After completing his doctoral classes, Roy worked for Scripture Press in Wheaton, Ill., where he was editor of Youth Programs and Training Hour Publications from 1959 to 1964. It was during this time that he wrote The Holy Spirit in Your Teaching, which enjoyed a long life through several printings and was used as a textbook in numerous Bible colleges and seminaries. In 1965 he became executive vice president of Scripture Press Ministries.
In 1973 Roy left Scripture Press and began a 23-year tenure as a faculty member of Dallas Theological Seminary. His career would take him through several positions: assistant professor of Bible Exposition; assistant academic dean; academic dean; vice president for academic affairs; chair and senior professor emeritus of the Bible Exposition Department; and associate editor, then later senior editor, of the seminary’s theological journal, Bibliotheca Sacra.
Dr. Zuck was a favorite chapel speaker among students at DTS. He also frequently took his ministry outside the seminary to speak at conferences, churches, and chapel services around the world. But his greatest legacy may be his writing.
Talbot School of Theology notes, “When Zuck was a young teen, he observed a pastor in his neighborhood who regularly handed out a two-sided paper written on biblical topics. The impact of the printed page intrigued Zuck. Through the medium of print, the teachings of God could be permanently captured and distributed to large groups of people.”
Roy had a lifelong interest in Biblical wisdom literature, particularly Job and Ecclesiastes. In 1978, he contributed the volume on Job to the popular Everyman’s Bible Commentary. Around this time he also developed an interest in genealogical research. He discovered that his great, great, great uncle William Johnston Zuck had also written a commentary on the book of Job in 1898.
Beginning around 1980, Dr. Zuck, along with Dr. John Walvoord (president of DTS when Zuck started teaching), began work on The Bible Knowledge Commentary. The New Testament volume was published in 1983; the Old Testament, in 1985. As part of Dallas Seminary’s oral history project, Roy was asked about which of his numerous publications he was especially proud, and he mentioned this work. “That was a huge job. It took five years of editing, over three thousand hours, probably fifteen hours a week on the side . . . but the Lord has really blessed it.”
In 1991, he published a textbook on hermeneutics, Basic Bible Interpretation, which has been widely used in classrooms around the world.
- View a complete list of books by Dr. Zuck
Dr. Mike Stallard, dean of Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pa., was a New Testament major in the master of sacred theology program at Dallas during Dr. Zuck’s tenure. Stallard recalls a Saturday morning seminar that Dr. Zuck taught on how to be a good teacher. “What an avalanche of teaching tips I learned in just a short time!” Stallard says on his blog post. “I was teaching at a church in Arlington, Texas at the time. I used some of the things Dr. Zuck taught me. They thought I was a great teacher! Dr. Zuck and others who were my teachers deserve the credit. Through him I became more aware of creativity in the function of teaching.”
Dr. Zuck retired from teaching in 1996 but continued to serve as editor of Bibliotheca Sacra and worked on many writing and editing projects, including serving as managing editor of the 28-volume Swindoll Leadership Library. He freelanced for several publishers and created tracts for the American Tract Society. In the summer of 2000, he began working as the copy and theological editor for another of the seminary’s publications, Kindred Spirit.
In 2009, he delivered his last chapel message, titled “Is the Rapture Next?” in which he reminded believers of the assurance of God’s promises and the hope they have in the Rapture.
In 2012 Roy took on the challenge of cowriting with Elmer Towns a new paraphrase-translation of the Bible. He was in charge of writing most of the Old Testament paraphrase and editing the entire book. It will be published by Destiny Image in the fall of 2013. His son, Ken, says his dad saw it as a blessing from God that he continued to have editing jobs. A week before his health declined, he said, “I’m all caught up.”
Roy was married for 54 years to his sweetheart, Dottie, whom he had met in his final year attending Biola College. She went to be with the Lord Sept. 27, 2008. He is survived by his son, Kenneth; daughter, Barbara Hanes; six grandchildren; and two great-grandsons.