William John Larkin Jr.
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William John Larkin Jr. COLUMBIA - Dr. Bill Larkin went home to be with his Lord and Savior, Messiah Jesus, on the afternoon of February 18, 2014. He was born on August 12, 1945, in Donora, Pennsylvania, the first child of Dr. William J. Larkin, Sr., and Margaret C. Morgan Larkin. Growing up in western Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh) and Chicago as the eldest of five children (three brothers and one sister), Bill graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1963. While still in high school, Bill received his call from the Lord to full-time Christian service (Isaiah 6:8). In preparation to fulfill this calling, he attended Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL), graduating in 1967 with a BA in history. Bill completed his Bachelor's of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1970 and was ordained in the United Presbyterian Church, the denomination in which his father served for almost 60 years. During his time at Princeton, Bill studied under Bruce Metzger, whose close work with the Greek New Testament would challenge him to pursue doctoral studies. Following graduation from seminary, Bill married fellow Wheaton graduate, Edna Ruth Dennis, and they spent their first year of marriage serving in the Olney Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, with Bill working as assistant pastor to Rev. Fred Vogenitz. Between 1971 and 1975, Bill and Edna lived in Durham, England, where Bill studied under distinguished New Testament professor C.K. Barrett, while Edna taught history in a local grammar school. Bill worked tirelessly on his doctoral dissertation arguing that Luke's use of the Old Testament, especially the Servant song of Isaiah 53, demonstrated that Jesus's death was for the atonement of the sins of His people. This marked the beginning of Bill's lifelong work with the gospel of Luke and Luke's second volume, Acts. Disciplined study, careful research, depth of humility and kindness of spirit characterized the next 38 years, as he invested in thousands of lives, serving with distinction as Professor of New Testament and Greek at Columbia Biblical Seminary and Graduate School of Missions in Columbia, SC. His conviction that God speaks through His Word to all peoples in all times and cultures, calling them to bow the knee and trust in His Son, Jesus Christ, drove Bill's passion to teach others to read, understand, and live out the Scriptures (Acts 16:31). Students remember him as the professor who would sit with them at lunch and ask how they were really doing. He always had a word of encouragement and a sweet smile, even just in passing someone on the sidewalk. Bill was never too busy to help, and he took joy in every opportunity to serve. He held nothing back in his service, and his love for the Lord and His Word was contagious. Bill authored five books, of which three were commentaries on Acts, one was the exegetical method he had crafted and refined over the years, and the other dealt with culture and biblical hermeneutics. He co-edited a sixth book, translated the book of Acts for the New Living Translation, wrote numerous articles and reviews, and participated in three scholarly societies: the Evangelical Theological Society, Society of Biblical Literature, and the Institute for Biblical Research. Bill sought to teach the principles of Biblical exegesis from the original languages to help preachers and teachers accurately explain and apply the Scriptures. Not only did he love training people to serve Christ all over the world, but he also made the most of opportunities to teach in Europe, Asia, and Africa. His colleagues remember his devotion to their common mission to know Christ and make Him known and the joy he took in interacting with each of them in a collegial, mutually challenging and edifying way. Deeply committed to the ministry of the local church, Bill served as a teaching elder with the Palmetto Presbytery (Presbyterian Church in America) in several Columbia churches (Cornerstone, Eau Claire, and Northeast) and as an adult Christian education teacher with First Presbyterian Church (ARP) for many years. Following his retirement in June 2013, Bill was honored to become Emeritus Professor of New Testament and Greek with Columbia International University and Visiting Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Missions for Erskine Theological Seminary of Columbia. Though the invasion of pancreatic cancer meant he was not able to serve in those roles in the capacity he had hoped, he still directed an independent study and mentored students and faculty whenever he had a good day in between chemo and radiation treatments. As he and his wife walked down this road, the most difficult of his life, he demonstrated strength, dignity, and grace. He took every opportunity to share his hope in Jesus with everyone he met, even the EMTs taking care of him in an ambulance between Columbia and Charleston. His family is grateful to medical professionals both at MUSC (Dr. Steve Chin, Dr. Richard Adams, Dr. Graham Warren) and in Columbia (Dr. Georges Postic, Dr. Siri Siri) for their kindness and for the time and quality of life gained through their treatments. Bill fought hard, and his final decline was unexpectedly rapid, but through it all he never wavered. This trial more than anything else revealed his true character of humble, quiet faith, resting in Jesus's arms, and doing his utmost to serve those around him. His wife, two children--Thomas Larkin (Rachel) and Priscilla Larkin Harris (Trevor), two grandsons (Benjamin and Daniel Larkin), mother, four siblings, in-laws, nephews, nieces, cousins, and other extended family members thank you for your condolences, prayers and for your countless demonstrations of love for Bill throughout this trial. The memorial service for Dr. Larkin will be held at 1 PM on Saturday, Feb. 22, at First Presbyterian Church, 1324 Marion Street, Columbia, with family visitation to follow in the Jackson Hall. Private Entombment in Greenlawn Memorial Park will precede the service. Shives Funeral Home is assisting the family. Memorials may be made to Columbia International University, PO Box 3122, Columbia, SC 29230-3122, World Witness, 1 Cleveland St, Ste 220, Greenville, SC 29601, or to Erskine Theological Seminary, PO Box 338, Due West, SC 29639. Memories and condolences may be shared at ShivesFuneralHome.com.

Published in The State from Feb. 21 to Feb. 22, 2014.
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