Biblical Languages Professor and Scholar Ronald Troxel ’73, S’77 Named Seminary Alumnus of the Year

Ronald Troxel ’73, S’77 has spent his career studying the Bible from a historical and linguistic perspective, sharing his expertise face-to-face with students and contributing to countless publications.

By Monique Kleinhuizen '08, GS'16, contributing writer

September 28, 2023 | Noon

Church has always been a part of Ron Troxel’s life. Early on, he felt a call to deepen his understanding of the Bible and share it with others, and he’s built a career doing just that.

Troxel pursued his undergraduate degree in speech from Bethel, where he met his wife, Jacki (Froberg) Troxel. He earned a Master of Divinity from Bethel Seminary in 1977, with a concentration in New Testament. He also earned a Master of Arts and a Doctor of Philosophy. He was a regular presenter for the Society of Biblical Literature, contributed to many biblical commentaries, and is professor emeritus of Hebrew Bible at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

There, Troxel’s courses often contained well over 100 students, with a variety of worldviews and belief systems represented—a unique environment that challenged and strengthened his faith. A favorite exercise was to hand out half-sheets of paper to his students on the first day. He’d ask them to answer two simple questions: “How would you define the Bible?” and “What do you hope to accomplish, or what do you fear, about this course?” He’d shuffle the papers and have each student read aloud someone else’s response. Their reactions often hinged on the similarities of their answers—despite their many differences. 

“The aim of those courses was not what we do in faith communities—it’s not about interpretations of the Bible adopted in various faith communities. Focusing on how scholars have studied the Bible and what they have found created common ground…it’s truly where I saw my ministry come alive.”

— Seminary Alumnus of the Year Ronald Troxel ’73, S’77

He describes the Bible’s books as “charter documents” cataloging God’s interactions with people across different cultures and times. His faith is not something that’s disconnected from academic knowledge—but something that’s informed and enriched by it. His thirst for that knowledge—and his understanding of how the study of biblical texts and cultures can be enriched through different perspectives and approaches—was built at Bethel. 

“Seminary is the place to test a sense of call. I have such a strong belief that Bethel was the perfect place for me at that time,” Troxel says. “Many of the people who have shaped my thinking, and my life, are from Bethel—and that community is the core of what Bethel is about.”

Bethel honors three outstanding alumni each year. If you know an incredible alum who deserves to be recognized, let us know! Nominations are accepted year-round.

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