Obituary for Andreas Schroedel

By W. J. Schulze

Translator’s Preface

Obituaries today are, for the most part, very skeletal. This seems a shame, considering the opportunity confessional Lutherans have to let their light shine in the writing of obituaries – not only to express the sure hope of eternal life in the face of death, but also to share moments from the Christian life that make the Christian faith supremely attractive.

In the process of some historical research, I came across this breathtaking obituary of Andreas Schroedel (1851-1909). It comes from the Ev.-Luth. Gemeinde-Blatt [Evangelical Lutheran Church Paper], vol. 44, no. 24 (15 Dec 1909), p. 370,371.

Rev. Schroedel concluded his ministry as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota (which has since merged with one of its daughter congregations to become Crown of Life in West St. Paul), and as president of the Minnesota Synod (back when the Wisconsin Synod was a federation of smaller state synods). He is buried in Elmhurst Cemetery, St. Paul. As you can see, the story of Schroedel’s life also gives us a glimpse into the heart of the founding president of the Wisconsin Synod, Johannes Muehlhaeuser.

President Andreas Schroedel

Andreas Schroedel

Andreas Schroedel

The Lord has paid us a difficult visit and has suddenly put us into a state of profound grief. On the last Sunday in the church year, November 21, 1909, he called Andreas Schroedel, our dear president, out of this earthly life. The funeral took place on Wednesday, November 24, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Around 10 a.m. a brief service was held at his home for his relatives. A number of pastors and professors were also present for this service. Pastor C. J. Albrecht comforted the bereaved using the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:17,18. Around 11 o’clock the coffin was carried by the elders to Trinity Church, where it was put on the bier in order to give the members of the church and the many friends an opportunity to look one last time on their pastor and friend who had fallen asleep. In keeping with the family’s wishes, members of the Board of Elders served as the honor guard1 from 11:00-1:30, and Pastors Schrader, Haase, Emmel, and Schulze from 1:30-2:00. During those three hours a continuous string of dear friends, young and old, passed by the coffin, while the organist played soothing selections. Around 2 o’clock the relatives were ushered into the church, and the service began with a congregational hymn (no. 624).2 The director [chairman] of the congregation, A. Ackermann, spoke the prayer at the altar and read Psalm 90. By special request of the grieving widow, Pastor J. Plocher delivered the German sermon. He chose Hebrews 13:7 as his text. Vice President A. F. Zich preached the English sermon on Luke 12:42-44. The undersigned read the biographical sketch of the deceased. The church choir and Concordia College’s student choir sang funeral songs. Particularly moving was the singing of the dear old song, “Laßt mich geh’n [Let Me Go],” by the schoolchildren.

Brief addresses were also delivered by President F. Soll, representing our joint synod and joint institutions; President G. E. Bergemann, representing the Wisconsin Synod and Northwestern University; President Theo. Braeuer, representing the Nebraska Synod; Vice President F. Pfotenhauer, representing the Joint Synod of Missouri; Dr. H. G. Stub, representing the Norwegian Synod; and Pastor P. Kreinheder, representing the English Missouri Synod. Director [President] J. Schaller from the seminary in Wauwatosa, Dr. J. H. Ott from Northwestern University in Watertown, almost the entire faculty from New Ulm, and many other pastors and professors from both our synod and the Missouri Synod were in attendance. All were deeply moved and the eyes of many were filled with tears when the shepherd was carried out of the church who had faithfully tended his congregation for 16 years and had on so many occasions unselfishly served us, his brothers, by counsel and action. By 5 o’clock the observance in the church was ended and the long funeral procession went slowly with the mortal frame of the dear deceased to the cemetery. There Pastor A. F. Winter officiated. It was already dark when the large number of mourners came from the grave, deeply grieved, yet comforted, for “blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on” [Rev 14:13].

President Schroedel was born on January 29, 1851, in Neustadtren [sic], Kulm[bach], in Bavaria, the youngest child of the master weaver Johann Schroedel and his wife Katharina (née Denderlein). In Holy Baptism he received the name Andreas. In 1853 his parents emigrated to America and established their home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There they became members of Grace Church and were under the spiritual care of Pastor Muehlhaeuser. The young Andreas received his schooling and confirmation instruction in this church and was confirmed by Pastor Muehlhaeuser in 1864. After his confirmation he would gladly have enrolled at once in our school of the prophets in Watertown in order to prepare himself for the holy preaching ministry, except that this ardent wish, which was both his own and his pious mother’s, had to remain just a wish at first, since his parents were lacking the necessary financial means for such schooling. For a considerable time, therefore, Andreas Schroedel helped his parents as he was able in the acquisition of their daily bread. But Pastor Muehlhaeuser, who had become fond of the pious and gifted boy and had in his confirmation instruction recognized the glorious gifts that God had given him, felt sorry that such an instrument should continue to be withheld from the holy preaching ministry. Accordingly Pastor Muehlhaeuser, by God’s grace, sought and found means and ways that Andreas Schroedel could enroll at Northwestern University in Watertown, Wisconsin, in spite of his circumstances. He faithfully made the most of his time there, and in 1873 passed his examination and received his certificate of maturity. In the fall of the same year he enrolled at the seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He studied theology there for three years and in 1876 received his certification for the holy preaching ministry from the Concordia Seminary faculty. The young candidate was first a pastor of the church in Naugart, Marathon County, Wisconsin. After he had served this congregation for five years, he followed a call to the church in Ridgeville, Wisconsin, in 1881. While serving there, he also served St. James Church in Norwalk and, until the fall of 1884, the church in Tomah, Wisconsin. In 1889 Pastor Schroedel was issued the call: “The Lord requires your services at the institution in Watertown.” From September of 1889 to June of 1893 he served his alma mater, Northwestern University in Watertown, Wisconsin, as a professor. From Watertown the Lord sent him to Trinity Church in St. Paul, where he has continuously been a faithful and conscientious caretaker of souls and served unselfishly since the 11th Sunday after Trinity, 1893. For years he has also served our joint synod as a member of various boards, as he was able, and our dear Minnesota Synod will certainly not forget him. Ever since he came to our synod, he has carried its welfare on a praying heart and sought to promote its welfare as best he could. For the past three years he has been our president, and he has discharged the duties of this difficult and highly responsible office with selflessness and devotion, both in general and in particulars. Yes, we recognize that in our dear President Schroedel we have lost a simple but faithful father and brother.

In the first year of his ministry, Pastor Schroedel joined Anna Bluehr in holy matrimony. After a short time God took his wife from him through death. On May 8, 1881, he married widow Emma Hoops (née Franke). With fortune and blessing he was permitted to live in this marriage until the end of his life. Three years ago they were able to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary and to thank God for his blessing and protection.

The Schroedel family plot in Elmhurst cemetery. Andreas' gravestone is in the foreground on the left. The carving on the bottom of the cross itself reads, "Christus, der ist mein Leben, Sterben ist mein Gewinn" ("For me to live is Jesus, To die is gain for me").

The Schroedel family plot in Elmhurst cemetery. Andreas’ gravestone is in the foreground on the left. The carving on the bottom of the cross itself reads, “Christus, der ist mein Leben, Sterben ist mein Gewinn” (“For me to live is Jesus, To die is gain for me”).

President Schroedel has also experienced this grace from our benevolent Lord, that throughout his life he was permitted to enjoy good health, so that during these many years he could discharge the duties of the office so dear to him almost without interruption. Not until the last two weeks of his life could he not carry out his duties; even then, no one suspected that he was very seriously ill. But on November 19, his condition kept getting more and more critical, and only an operation was left as the final option for the doctors to try in order to save him. With these final words to his family, “Commit your ways to the Lord and hope in him; he will make it turn out well,” he let himself be brought to the hospital, comforted and composed. There Pastor Plocher prayed with him and administered the Sacrament of the Lord to him for his strengthening. After receiving the Holy Supper, he once more folded his hands and prayed, “Dear Father in heaven, your will is always the best, whether it be for heavenly life or, if it is possible, for a longer earthly life. I commit myself entirely to your protection. For me to live is Jesus; To die is gain for me. So, when my Savior pleases, I meet death willingly. For Christ, my Lord and brother, I leave this world so dim And gladly seek another, Where I shall be with him.”3

Shortly before his death, after his wife had also prayed with him the Lord’s Prayer and the final two stanzas of no. 164: “My Savior, then be near me,” etc.,4 he took leave of his love for this life forever, squeezed her hand once more and said, “Don’t cry that I am departing from you. You have someone with you who cares for you better than I and who is always with you.” Weary and faint, he lay back down on the pillow, drew a few more deep breaths, and fell asleep gently and peacefully – it was just after 5 o’clock on Sunday afternoon – and entered into the rest of the people of God.

The next of kin who survive him are his wife, his sons Otto (in Omaha, Nebraska), Theophil (currently a student at the University of Berlin), his daughter Lydia, and a sister. He brought the duration of his earthly pilgrimage to 58 years, 9 months, and 23 days. — For 33 of those years he continuously served the church of Jesus Christ as a preacher of the gospel. May his memory remain with us in blessing! “Remember your teachers who have spoken the word of God to you; contemplate their end and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7).

Respectfully submitted,
W. J. Schulze


1 Today this practice is generally only found at a military funeral. But it appears to have been customary back then also at the funeral of any important personage.

2 “Ich hab’ mich Gott ergeben,” by J. Siegfried (1564-1637), an untranslated hymn sung to the same tune as “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” (Christian Worship 105).

3 The author literally reports that Schroedel ended the prayer, “Christ, who is my life, etc. [sts. 1 & 2, no. 639].” This corresponds to sts. 1 & 2 of Christian Worship 606, “For Me to Live Is Jesus.”

4 This corresponds to the final two sts. of Christian Worship 105, “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.”


Commentary on Luke 7:36-50

By Hermann L. Strack and Paul Billerbeck

Translator’s Preface

The following was translated from Hermann L. Strack and Paul Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch (Commentary on the New Testament on the Basis of the Talmud and Midrash), vol. 2, Das Evangelium nach Markus, Lukas und Johannes und die Apostelgeschichte (The Gospel According to Mark, Luke, and John, and the Acts of the Apostles) (Munich: C. H. Beck’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1961), p. 162-163.

I translated it to help with sermon preparation for Pentecost 4, when the appointed Gospel is Luke 7:36-50. It will also serve as the starting point for the June 2013 post on my blog Jeshua at Bread for Beggars.

For more information on the authors, click herehere, or here.

If you would prefer a PDF version of this translation (especially for reading the Hebrew), you may download one here.

May the Holy Spirit use what follows to give the Christian readers a better understanding of the context of the sinful woman’s anointing of Jesus, so that we, like she, may love much because we have been forgiven much.

Commentary on Luke 7:36-50

7:37. And behold, a woman in the city, a sinner, when she learned…

γυνὴ ἥτις ἦν ἐν τῇ πόλει ἁμαρτωλός, καὶ ἐπιγνοῦσα. This is a complex sentence like those found in rabbinical literature: אשה שבעיר חוטאה כשׂירעה = a woman in the city, a sinner, when she learned. ἁμαρτωλός should therefore not be taken as a predicate of ἦν, but as an appositive to γυνή. — γυνὴ ἁμαρτωλός can refer very generally to a woman whose character fell short of the pharisaic standards.

Cf. Kethuboth 72a Mishnah: “These are to be divorced without receiving their kethubah [marriage contract or settlement]: A wife who transgresses the Law of Moses or [one who transgresses] Jewish practice [דַּת משׁה ויהודית]. And what is [regarded as a wife’s transgression against] the Law of Moses? Feeding her husband with untithed food [Num 18:21-32], having intercourse with him during the period of her menstruation [Lev 18:19], not setting apart her dough offering [Num 15:18-21], or making vows and not fulfilling them [Dt 23:21-23]. And what is [deemed to be a wife’s transgression against] Jewish practice? Going out with uncovered head, spinning in the street [and thereby exposing her bare arms], or conversing [flirtatiously] with every man. Abba Saul [c. 150] said: [Such transgressions include] also that of a wife who curses her husband’s parents in his presence. R. Tarfon [c. 100] said: Also one who screams [קוֹלְנִית]. And who is regarded a screamer? A woman whose voice can be heard by her neighbors when she speaks inside her house.”1 — Parallel passage: Tosefta, Kethuboth 7:6f. — For an explanation of the Mishnah, see JT Ketubot 7:6 Gemara;2 Kethuboth 72a,b.3

However, it appears that γυνὴ ἁμαρτωλός should be taken more specifically as referring to a prostitute. Even the verb חָטָא,iחֲטָא is used in an absolute sense to mean to live unchastely or to engage in sexual immorality.

JT Ta‘anit 1:4 Gemara: “A certain ass-driver appeared before the rabbis [in a dream] and prayed, and rain came. The rabbis sent and brought him and said to him, ‘What is your trade?’ He said to them, ‘I am an ass-driver.’ They said to him, ‘What good deed have you done?’ He said to them, ‘One time I rented my ass to a certain woman, and she was weeping on the way, and I said to her, “What troubles you?” She said to me, “The husband of that woman [me] is in prison [for debt], and I want to see what I can do to free him.” [She wanted to yield to prostitution in order to use the proceeds to get him out.] So I sold my ass and I gave her the proceeds, and I said to her, “Here is your money, free your husband, but do not sin [ולא תחטיי] [by becoming a prostitute to raise the necessary funds].”’ They said to him, ‘You are worthy of praying and having your prayers answered.’”4 — Then follows a second story, similar in content, with the same encouragement to the woman in the story: לא תחטיי. Shabbath 55b: “R. Samuel b. Nahman [c. 260] said in R. Jonathan’s [c. 220] name: Whoever maintains that Reuben sinned [חטא; rf. Gen 35:22] is merely making an error.”5 The same assertion is made about David in reference to 2 Samuel 11:4 in Shabbath 56a,6 and about the sons of Eli in reference to 1 Samuel 2:22 in Yoma 9a.7 • Siphre to Leviticus 20:15 (371a): “If the man has sinned [חטא; rf. Lev 20:15f], what sin has the animal committed [חטאה]?” For more, see Pesahim 113a at Matthew 19:22, p. 826.

7:37b. A small alabaster bottle of anointing oil.

See at Matthew 26:7.

7:38a. Standing behind at his feet.

The feet of those reclining at the table were stretched out behind them on the cushion; see the excursus “An Ancient Jewish Banquet” [Ein altjüdisches Gastmahl].

7:38b. She kissed his feet.

See at Matthew 26:49, p. 995f. [What follows are two quotes from that section.]

Sanhedrin 27b: “Thereupon Bar Hama [who was accused of murder] arose and kissed his [R. Papi’s, c. 360] feet [since he had R. Papi to thank for his acquittal], and undertook to pay his poll-tax for him for the rest of his life.”8 • JT Pe’ah 1:1 Gemara: “R. Yannai and R. Jonathan [c. 220] were in session. Someone came and kissed the feet of R. Jonathan [out of thankfulness]. R. Yannai said to him, ‘What is the meaning of this [honor that] he pays you today?’ [Jonathan] said to him, ‘One time he came to complain to me about his son, so that the son would support him. I said to him to go to the synagogue and get some people to rebuke him [and tell him to support his father].’”9

7:41. A devout man had two debtors.

A rabbinical parable about a devout man who had two debtors is found in ‘Abodah Zarah 4a: “R. Abbahu [c. 300 in Caesarea] commended R. Safra [a Babylonian, c. 320] to the Minim [מינין, “heretics”; here: Christians] as a learned man, and he was thus exempted by them from paying taxes [in Caesarea] for thirteen years. One day, on coming across him, they said to him, ‘It is written: You only have I known [or loved] from all the families of the earth; therefore I will visit upon you all your iniquities [Amos 3:2]. If one is in anger does one vent it on one’s friend?’ But he was silent and could give them no answer; so they wound a scarf round his neck and tortured him. When R. Abbahu came and found him [in that state] he said to them, ‘Why do you torture him?’ Said they, ‘Have you not told us that he is a great man? He cannot explain to us the meaning of this verse!’ Said he, ‘I may have told you [that he was learned] in Tannaitic teaching; did I tell you [he was learned] in Scripture? [Only in the former is Safra an authority.]’ ‘How is it then that you [Palestinians, like R. Abbahu] know it?’ they contended. ‘We,’ he replied, ‘who are frequently with you [Christians], set ourselves the task of studying it thoroughly, but others [like the Babylonians] do not study it as carefully [because there are not any מינין by them].’ Said they, ‘Will you then tell us the meaning?’ ‘I will explain it by a parable,’ he replied. ‘To what may it be compared? To a man who is the creditor of two persons, one of them a friend, the other an enemy; of his friend he will accept payment little by little whereas of his enemy he will exact payment in one sum! [In other words, that is also God’s position toward Israel and the heathens: Israel God punishes gradually in this world until the guilt is atoned for, so that a fuller reward may be theirs in the world to come. But the heathens God lets go about securely in this world, in order to bring upon them the entire punishment in one fell swoop in the world to come.]’”10

7:44. You have not given [poured] any water on my feet.

Regarding foot washing, see at John 13:5. Regarding the washing of a guest’s feet, see Siphre to Deuteronomy 33:24 §355 (148a) at Matthew 6:17, p. 427, note f.

7:45. You have not given me a kiss.

Regarding kissing, cf. at Matthew 26:49. For more, see Tosefta, Niddah 5:15 (646) at Luke 2:47, p. 151.

7:50. Go in [to] peace.

On the distinction between “Go בשלום [in peace]” and “Go לשלום [to peace],” see Berakoth 64a at Luke 2:29, p. 138.


1 Soncino, 448,449.

2 Neusner, 185,186.

3 Soncino, 449-453.

4 Neusner, 24,25.

5 Soncino, 256.

6 Ibid., 259.

7 Ibid., 38.

8 Ibid., 163.

9 Neusner, 20.

10 Soncino, 14.