Ken Neller was the only teacher who ever told me to stop whining. He was the only teacher who ever had to—the one who pushed me out of the shallow end of biblical studies and waited for me to meet his expectation that I would swim. That is a debt I cannot repay and a memory that I cherish. I found myself as an academic while I struggled to write his term papers, and I discovered a love of biblical Greek under his strict tutelage. My memories of Dr. Neller have indelibly marked my image of what a teacher should be. He never lowered his standard of scholarship as a teacher of Bible and Ministry to students who were more eager to play than study, but he always went the extra mile to relate to his students. I remember sitting in a restaurant as a freshman discussing the Jesus Seminar, because he wanted to encourage my extra-curricular questions over a sandwich instead of in an office. I remember the cookouts at his house with the Bible majors and the many extra hours spent with the “Bible Majors’ Club.” I remember his guest presentations at the Society for Near Eastern Archaeology. I remember the end-of-semester invitation to do our final Greek reading in 1 Corinthians over coffee in the student center—his treat. And I remember his faithfulness to pray before each class; candid, earnest prayers that made me feel glad for the people he shepherded at Downtown.
You were steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, and your labor was not in vain. I look forward to seeing you again, Dr. Neller.