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Retired theology prof David Mueller dies

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–David Livingstone Mueller, former professor of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, died March 26 of heart failure at the age of 80 in San Antonio, Texas.

Mueller, who retired from Southern in 1995, earned a bachelor of divinity from the seminary and began teaching there in 1961 after serving as professor of religion at Baylor University.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary, expressed his appreciation for Mueller’s impact on his life as his Ph.D. dissertation supervisor.

“David Mueller was a major influence in my academic life,” Mohler said. “He was a true scholar and a second-generation theologian. He demonstrated joy and dedication in everything he did, and generations of students bear his imprint. I am grateful for his investment in my life and ministry.”

Mohler noted that Mueller played a key role in the life of Southern Seminary as a longtime member of the faculty.

“David Mueller grew up with Southern Seminary as part of his life,” Mohler said. “His father, Professor William Mueller, was a longtime faculty member and author of the seminary’s centennial history in 1959. Both father and son reflected the tenacity of German scholarship and lifelong dedication to teaching and scholarship.”

The second of five sons, Mueller was born on Oct. 5, 1929, in Buffalo, N.Y., to William A. Mueller and Mary Martha Mueller. He spent his childhood and young adult life in Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Rochester and Louisville. In addition to Southern Seminary, he attended Colgate University and the University of Heidelberg in Germany and was a 1959 graduate from Baylor.

Mueller earned a Ph.D. in theology and philosophy from Duke University and was a visiting scholar at Basel University in Switzerland in 1960-61 where he studied under Karl Barth. On sabbaticals, Mueller pursued post-doctoral studies at Yale University and Tubingen University in Germany.

Greg Wills, associate dean of theology and tradition and professor of church history at Southern, said Mueller’s scholarly contributions reflect well the seminary’s commitment to academic excellence.

“David Mueller represented well Southern Seminary’s tradition of academic excellence,” said Wills, who also serves as director of the Center for the Study of the Southern Baptist Convention at Southern. “Mueller’s scholarship was impressive, and he was duly recognized for his expertise in German theology, especially Ritschl and Barth.”

After his retirement, Mueller was visiting professor at the Presbyterian Seminary (PCUSA) in Austin, Texas, where he lived from 1995-2000.

Along with his wife Marilyn, Mueller is survived by his son Charles and daughter Mary Beth Tukman, both of Telluride, Colo., and three grandchildren.

The funeral will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 31, at First Presbyterian Church in Kerrville, Texas. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Eddie and Velma Dwyer Scholarship Fund at Baylor University, Habitat for Humanity or the building fund at First Presbyterian Church in Kerrville.
Garrett E. Wishall is a writer for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

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  • Garrett E. Wishall