Samuel Eugene Balentine (2024)

Samuel Eugene Balentine (1)

Samuel Eugene Balentine

August 12, 1950 – June 19, 2024

Sam Balentine, 73, of Chesterfield, Virginia, proud husband and father, passed away on June 19, 2024 at his home.

He was born in Greenville, South Carolina, in August of 1950 to David and Elizabeth Balentine. He had one brother, Michael Balentine.

Sam received his B.A. from Furman University, his Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and his Doctorate of Philosophy from Oxford University in England. Sam’s theological passion was Job and the Old Testament. He was a renowned author, editor, publisher, and professor for over 40 years. He was also a professor known for pushing the boundaries and pushing his students to think outside the box. Once he retired, he put that same passion into making memories with his grandkids. He took great pride in being Opa (his name for grandfather) to his four grandchildren. He lived for the moments of reading books in silly voices, making up stories, putting together puzzles, and Sunday dinners.

Sam was preceded in death by his father David Balentine and his mother Elizabeth Balentine. He is survived by his wife Betty, their two children Graham Balentine (Megana) and Lauren Marston (Jon), and his four grandchildren Eleanor and Grayson Balentine, and Tenley and Colton Marston.

A memorial service will be private to his immediate family. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the IPF foundation. You can donate here:

Affinity Funeral Homes2024-07-03T09:34:40-04:00


  1. Samuel Eugene Balentine (2)

    Lisa JanesJune 26, 2024 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    To the Family of Dr. Samuel Balentine,

    Sam was such a blessing to know. As the Circulation Supervisor at the Union Presbyterian Seminary Library on the Richmond Campus I would on occasion speak with Sam regarding his course reserves. I remember on one occasion he had course reserves for his Old Testament course that even included another supplemental text in case the primary text was on-loan. Sam was a gifted scholar but he was also down to earth and cared about those around him, always creating time for others.

    As you undergo what the Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon called, “the labyrinth of grief”, I know that you will continue to celebrate his life.
    May the peace of God and the love of Christ bring comfort to you in the days ahead.

    With Deepest Sympathy,

    Lisa R. Janes
    Circulation Supervisor
    William Smith Morton Library
    Union Presbyterian Seminary

  2. Samuel Eugene Balentine (3)

    Bob LeeJune 26, 2024 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace.

    Dr. Balentine was one of my favorite professors while at BTSR. I still use my Hebrew today and can remember his blessing of Shabbat Shalom when class ended on Fridays.

    Know that my prayers are with and for you all as you mourn for this wonderful servant of our Lord.

    God’s blessings, Bob Lee
    BTSR 1998

  3. Samuel Eugene Balentine (4)

    William B. RogersJune 26, 2024 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    When I breathe in, I breathe in peace. When I breathe out, I breathe out love. William B. Rogers (faculty colleague)

  4. Samuel Eugene Balentine (5)

    Rick JordanJune 26, 2024 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    When I went to Midwestern Theological Seminary in Kansas City as a first year student, I was the youngest student on campus. All of my professors began teaching there the year the school was founded, 1958 – the year I was born. I was graced with having as my faculty advisor Dr. Samuel Balentine, a fresh graduate from Oxford, much closer to my age. Much smarter, though. I met with Sam fairly regularly, and we saw each other regularly at Second Baptist Church in Liberty, MO, where we were both members.
    Sam persuaded me, in spite of my arguments, that I should take at least one full year of Greek and Hebrew. None of the Baptist schools required that much language study, including MBTS. I think Sam hoped that I would become a pastor-scholar. So, I took languages, including Hebrew, which Sam taught. It was a small class. I couldn’t bluff my way through or hide behind other students’ quick answers. Languages are hard for me. Sam also taught courses on the Psalms, Job and on Lamentations. I loved his Bible classes so much that I took all that were offered, but I audited most of them. His grading scale was very tough. I made D’s in Hebrew, but they would have been B’s or C’s in another professor’s grade scale. I was not going to become a PhD pastor with those D’s on my record. Still, I learned so much from his teaching that I wanted to absorb as much as possible.
    Eventually, I went on staff at 2BC as a part-time youth minister. I needed to have a professor as a reference. I chose Sam. Later, I invited Sam to join me as a chaperone for some events, but Sam was clear that he wasn’t called to youth ministry. Some years later, as I was leaving Missouri to do CPE in South Carolina, I was given my personnel file. I read Sam’s recommendation, which included something like, “Ricky [I went by Ricky back then] would be a great scholar if he didn’t spend so much time with people.” It may be the greatest sideways compliment I ever received.
    Sam left MBTS to teach at Southeastern Baptist Seminary in NC. My sister, Cindy, was a student of his there. Unlike me, Cindy was a wizard in Hebrew. Cindy was also the Balentine’s babysitter. I kept up with Sam and him with me mostly through her.
    When the disaster of the fundamentalist takeover happened, all current Bible professors in colleges and seminaries were suspect. It was horrible to watch and must have been terrible to live through. Sam, of course, was fired. When I heard, I went to Southeastern to visit him. I don’t know what I thought that would accomplish. I had no power to fight the fundamentalists, no influence to help Sam find another place to serve. All I could do was say, “I’m sorry. You don’t deserve this. How can I help?’ It turns out he was packing his books, so I helped him do that. From that hour or so together, I gained several life-lessons.
    “Ricky, never sell your soul to an institution. They can’t be trusted. They don’t have your best interest in mind, only their own survival and success. I’ve given my life to institutions. Never again.” He modeled for me a way to love and serve the Church in a way that honors the Call and preserves the soul.
    I asked what he was going to do next. He had no immediate professional plans. This severance was quick. “I love baseball. I plan to spend the next few months going to every professional baseball park to watch at least one game.” I don’t know if he accomplished that goal, but it taught me that it is okay to have interests other than the Church. I, for one, needed that permission – but it took a very long time for it to become a reality for me.
    In the classroom, Sam taught me about the roles taken by Job’s friends. They started off well by sitting with Job in silence. There was mutual mourning of ordinary human beings. Then, a fix-it religion took over, a we’ve-got life-all-figured-out religion, a religion that switched from sit with the victim to blame the victim. Here, I attempted to live the best of what Sam taught me about Job’s friends’ visit. Sit in silence. Shrug off easy answers. Be present. Allow appropriate swearing.
    Years later, I began my DMin at Union Seminary in Richmond, VA. It happened that Sam was now teaching at the Baptist Theological Seminary, across the street from UTS. We got together a few times. He was now a “Who’s-Who” in Baptist life and in the broader Old Testament scholarly world. I was a relative nobody in either of those worlds. It seemed silly for me to tell him that I was proud of him. But I did. He accepted my compliment with grace and a grin.

  5. Samuel Eugene Balentine (6)

    Charles B PuskasJune 26, 2024 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    During one week that I worked with Sam on the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible at Abingdon Press. He was one of our OT editors. It was during the NCAA basketball playoffs and we had on a TV nearby so that Sam could watch his beloved Furman Paladins play! I regarded him as Walt Brueggemann’s successor.

  6. Samuel Eugene Balentine (7)

    Tim FreemanJune 27, 2024 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    I has Dr Ballentine at Midwestern Baptist Seminary and had him for OT wisdom literature. I learned so much and gained a great appreciation for OT. His Job commentary from Smyth Helwys is stellar.

  7. Samuel Eugene Balentine (8)

    Pulmonary Fibrosis FoundationJune 28, 2024 at 9:42 am - Reply

    The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation is truly sorry for your family’s loss. Please contact Jake Meding if we can provide any information or support during this difficult time. He can be reached at [emailprotected] or 312-854-2627. Thank you.

  8. Samuel Eugene Balentine (9)

    Jim WestJuly 1, 2024 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    I am gutted. Sam was my OT Prof at SEBTS and taught me Hebrew, and so many other things. This is awful news.

    I’ll be praying for his family and friends. What a loss for us all but especially for them.


  9. Samuel Eugene Balentine (10)

    Walter MoberlyJuly 2, 2024 at 4:34 am - Reply

    Sam was, as the English used to say, a scholar and a gentleman. I give thanks to God for him.

  10. Samuel Eugene Balentine (11)

    Richard RohlfingJuly 4, 2024 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Though I was never one of Sam’s students, a considerable portion of my PhD was both inspired by and devoted to continuing his influential work on the Hidden God. Though he didn’t know me from Adam, when we met at a conference, he gave freely of his time, perspective, & deep and friendly counsel. I’m deeply thankful for his work, and even more, his example. Praying for all those – family & friends – who grieve his loss.

Samuel Eugene Balentine (2024)
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