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Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 1998 -- Volume 11:21


EULOGY FOR
DR. ARTHUR LEONARD FARSTAD1

FRANK D. CARMICAL
Evangelist
Harvester Ministries
Plano, TX

 

 The first time I ever heard the name of Arthur Farstad was in 1980 in the old Wyatt’s Cafeteria on Abrams Road in Dallas, sitting across the table from Jim Mook. I was a lowly Master’s student and Jim was in the doctoral program at Dallas Seminary. I remember sitting enthralled as Jim told me how he actually lived in a big house in Lakewood edition with Dr. Arthur Farstad, who had been a Greek professor at DTS for five and a half years and was at that time Executive Editor of The New King James Version of the Bible.

Wow, I thought. Jim actually lives with this famous guy (even though I’d never heard of him)! Little did I know that in two years I would not only get to meet this famous "Dr. Farstad" (at a Christmas party where we all baked and decorated gingerbread men cookies, no less!), but I would also gain the richest and best friendship I’ve ever had.

Arthur Leonard Farstad was born on March 7, 1935 in Yonkers, New York (the seventh day of the third month, interesting because Art’s favorite numbers were three and seven). He was the youngest of three boys. Art went to be with his Lord at sixty-three years of age on Tuesday evening, September 1, 1998 in Dallas. That same morning, Art commented to me as I drove him to Baylor Hospital: "I came to Dallas on this day thirty-five years ago from Washington D.C.; perhaps today is the day I’ll go home."

When Art exited the stage of planet earth, he left a family he loved and prayed for every day of his life: his two brothers and sisters-in-law, Dick and Jane Farstad of Garland, Texas and Arnold and Jan Farstad of Boulder, Colorado; and six nephews and nieces, with their respective spouses and children, Mark Farstad, Martha VanDenHeuvel, David Farstad, Debbie Meyers, Eric Farstad, and Sharon Scanlon. Art also left behind across this world a host of former students, associates, and devoted friends.

He earned degrees and received many honors from Emmaus Bible School, Washington Bible College, and Dallas Theological Seminary. In addition to his translation work on the nkjv and his editorial work on The Majority Text of the Greek New Testament, Art was also a founder of the Majority Text Society, editor of the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, and translator and general editor of a new translation of the New Testament called Logos 21.

Although Art did not complete that translation, he did finish the Gospel of John, which has been published as an attractive blue (his favorite color) evangelistic booklet. There, in the foyer of the auditorium, are copies of this booklet. If your family does not already have one, you would honor Art’s memory by taking a copy with you. And of course, they’re absolutely free! When you’re finished reading it, please honor the Lord by giving it away to someone who needs to believe that Christ died for our sins and arose and who needs to receive eternal life, free of charge.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Art’s oldest brother Dick read in Norwegian from John 14 to Art in his room at Baylor Hospital. I’d like to read from Logos 21 Gospel of John, 14:1-2, the last verses that Art heard before his death:

Do not let your heart be distressed. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many homes, otherwise I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you.

Just five days before his death, Art read those same verses in Norwegian and noticed that the Norwegian word for "Father" in verse two was "Far," and the word for "place" in that language was "sted." Art circled both words in his New Testament: "Far," "sted," drew a line between them, and commented that "Father’s place" in Norwegian was "Far-sted," like "Farstad!" Art concluded that perhaps the Lord was calling him home.

That story is so typical of Art. He was an individualist, walking to the synch of a different percussionist. He had his own unique style and flare to life. I often kidded him about being a seminary prof and Bible translator and yet having an interest in the macabre. Art was an aficionado of the Lincoln assassination, the Lizzy Borden ax murders, Jack the Ripper, and the Lindberg kidnapping. Art was a Titanic buff long before it was cool to be a Titanic buff. And who could forget his interest in Sherlock Holmes and the mysteries of Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christi? If Art were here right now, he would point out that the name "Agatha" comes from the Greek word that means "good."

Anyone who ever talked to Dr. Farstad for more than five minutes was soon to be acquainted with the "art" of conversation. He was a man of such ideas and ideals, a veritable Funk and Wagnalls of culture and trivia, that to chat with him for an evening was like a crash course in the liberal arts with running footnotes!

No one who knew Art or heard him teach can forget his marvelous sense of humor and wit, his puns and asides. When forced to endure someone’s absurd or inane, world-without-end prattle, Art would turn his head to one side and roll his eyes toward Heaven. Does anyone recall how he would rhapsodize about the ecstasies of Belgian chocolates or repeat for the umpteenth time his lecturette on the origin of the word chocolate? "Theobromide: the food of the gods!"

And of course, most hilarious of all was his own idiosyncratic argot devoted exclusively to his beloved Welsh Corgy, Mr. Chips, or Chippy, as he was affectionately called. Art also created the world’s only free, informal, evening school in his home, dedicated to the study of any subject, with its mascot his pooch. He called it CDU: Chippy Doggy University. After he met me, Art was quick to point out that I should be honored to have the same initials as Chippy—mine are FDC and his were CDF: Frank Daniel Carmical and Chippy Doggy Farstad!

Art was an old-fashioned bachelor and gentleman. His interests ranged from classical music to the Olympics to handwriting analysis to roses. He was an artist and a scholar, a modern Renaissance Man, with the mind of a genius inventor, the heart of a medieval romantic, and the soul of a metaphysical poet. Who else, but a man with a boylike faith and walk with God, would never skip his morning quiet time, and yet read those daily devotions alternately in English, French, Latin, Norwegian, Greek, or Hebrew? We shall not see his like again.

On the morning of the day of his death, lying on his hospital bed, Art asked me for his Norwegian New Testament and read the last verse that he was ever to read on this planet, 1 Cor 2:9. I read from his well worn, teaching copy of the NKJV:

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered in the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

When I think of Art, it reminds me of what God can do with one life dedicated to Him. Art’s ministry extended to countless lives through those he taught and touched, who in turn have passed on that special torch to new generations. The proof of that is shown in this service by those who have traveled here from across the United States just to honor him.

Over the years, Art opened his home to seminary students, usually young single men, for whom Art was a role model of scholarship, professionalism, character, and moral purity. Those men have gone on to become professors, missionaries, and ministers scattered around this globe. And like the Lord Jesus Christ, Art was a mentor and discipler not only of men, but also a teacher of women, whom he held in high regard, especially his mother, his sisters-in-law, his secretaries, and special friends like Mrs. Winifred Griffith Thomas Gillespie.

Art was more than a friend to me; he was like a father I never had. And though I loved him and looked up to him, I was never blind to his frailties and shortcomings. He ate too much; he didn’t get enough exercise; and he didn’t take care of his health like he should have. He was a procrastinator and super disorganized. His favorite encyclopedia, Larousse, could have used Art’s office as an illustration of the word pile! But those foibles are all like the muted colors in the corner of a canvas of life painted from top to bottom and side to side with the blazing primary hues of his strengths and virtues.

Why was Art the great man that he was? What can account for such an amazing life? I’ll tell you. It was God’s work, through His Holy Spirit, conforming Art’s life and heart to the character and image of Jesus Christ, even as Art first trusted in Christ as his Savior and then throughout life, made it a habit to respond in faith and obedience to God’s Word.

Only Jesus, in and through Art’s life, can explain his actions. I never saw Art angry, except against sin or injustice or apostasy from the faith. He had an amazing degree of patience and compassion with the unlovely and unloved. I remember so many times, when others would use, abuse, or accuse Art, how I would seethe with anger, ready to throttle them, and he would simply turn the other cheek and look for the best in them, minimizing their weaknesses and maximizing their strengths. If ever I saw God personify First Corinthians 13 in mortal flesh, I witnessed it in Art:

Love…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Art was also a great man because he had godly parents, who from his childhood instructed him in the faith. Art was so proud of his parents who came to America as immigrants, became citizens, and saw their three sons grow up to be educated and have a better life than they. It’s fitting that on his lapel here in the casket he wears a tiny Norwegian flag in memory of his folks. His casket is made of beautifully polished wood, appropriate because his dad was a carpenter.

Finally, Art was a great man because God gave him an exceptional circle of Christian friends who constantly lifted him up in prayer. Some pretty famous people, in this world and in the next, crossed Art’s path and left their mark upon him so he in turn could imprint his life on others.

I know how difficult this is for many of you. Me too. He’s gone. It seems so unfair that he was ripped out of our lives so suddenly, leaving us never to see him again in this life. We don’t even know why he died yet. We will grieve. But that’s okay. It’s right to mourn our loss, but we also have a responsibility to celebrate Art’s gain. There is so much to be thankful for in his home going:

But we must not only celebrate Art’s gain, but our own gain as well. Whether your time with him was little or much, measured in months or years, rejoice that God loved you so much that He gave you the inestimable privilege to have your life journey intersect that of this remarkable man. Give praise to God that He enriched you and touched you through the words and works of His servant Art. I’m not sad that I’ve lost him. I’m so happy and blessed and thrilled to have had him in my life for fifteen wonderful years.

My mom told me yesterday that she had this picture in her mind of Art arriving at the gates of Heaven and Jesus welcoming him inside. And after hearing Jesus’ words and seeing His face, Art then hears near Jesus’ nail-pierced feet a familiar sound of padded paws, a jingle, a bark, and Chippy’s chiming in: "Welcome home."

Endnote

1This is the actual eulogy delivered at Dr. Art Farstad's funeral on September 4, 1998 at the Mitchell Ministries Center at Dallas Theological Seminary.   Nearly 200 people gathered from all over the U.S. to remember and honr Art.

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