On the passing of Dr. Duane Christensen

Duane Christensen (w/Psalms 122 plaque in Jersualem)

Duane Christensen (w/Psalms 122 plaque in Jersualem)

2013-01-13 @ 1:34:00 PM

Here is the text of something I posted on a Yahoo Group, the BIBAL Group founded and long moderated by Dr. Duane Christensen, the co-publisher of Suzanne Haik-Vantoura’s English book. If I have my facts straight, Dr. Christensen died of kidney failure on January 4, 2013.


Dear BIBAL Group,

I have been so preoccupied with events in my own life that I haven’t been able to pen here a meaningful response to Dr. Duane Christensen’s passing. I heard about it the day after via Facebook. I’ve been wanting to post something on the event on one of my blogs, but I haven’t been able to do that either. Perhaps today I may.

I met Duane after the one U.S. concert presented by Suzanne Haik-Vantoura and her translator Dennis Weber in 1985. The concert was held in the Lone Mountain Chapel of the University of San Francisco and was co-sponsored by Temple Emmanuel. From that day we developed a working partnership which developed into a friendship. Though by his own admission Duane was not a qualified musician (although he had adequate musical knowledge to follow musical evidence where it led), he was willing to give both Suzanne’s work and my own enthusiasm for it a chance to be heard. In time this led to our co-publication of the English translation of Suzanne’s French book, THE MUSIC OF THE BIBLE REVEALED (1991).

One of my own cohorts, himself deceased for some years now, was afraid that Duane would take advantage of Suzanne’s work for his own ends. In fact Duane was always a faithful steward of what had been entrusted to him. It was two of Suzanne’s own co-workers in France who ultimately betrayed her and her work, through circumstances I can’t speak of here; and they are largely responsible for her work being in the legal limbo that it is. Theirs was not the kind of ethics and morals to which Duane held in the least.

I’ll let others speak of Duane in other circumstances which are far better known to them than to I. I will miss him. I think I’ll remember him most by the fact that you didn’t have to see eye to eye with him on the issues (and we didn’t always do so) in order to maintain a relationship of mutual respect.

On my blog, I wanted to put up my then-latest video based on Suzanne’s work, Psalms 62, which in its way makes a very fitting tribute to him and his passing in my mind. To that I’ll add the latest and “perfected” edition of Psalms 23, also just posted. The direct links to these YouTube videos follow.

Psalms 62 (New Series)

Psalms 23 (Volume 01 – Upcoming DVD edition)

May God grant Duane’s family and friends comfort at this time, and likewise to all of you who knew him.

Best wishes,
John Wheeler


UPDATE 2013-01-07: Thanks to one of the members of BIBAL Group, I’ve gained access to this obituary:

Duane Christensen
May 27,1938 – Jan 4,2013
Resident of Rodeo

Duane L. Christensen entered peacefully into rest in San Pablo, CA on January 4, 2013. He was 74 years old. Born in Park Rapids, Minnesota to John and Elsie Christensen on May 27, 1938, Duane had graduated with a PhD from Harvard University. A longtime Theology Professor, Duane had written many books, academic articles and reviews and is recognized as an Old Testament Scholar. He had established the BIBAL Corporation which promotes the study of biblical literature and was still the President when he passed. He also volunteered at the San Quentin State Prison where he offered spiritual guidance to the inmates. Duane will truly be missed by many. Duane is survived by his loving wife Martha Christensen; his children, Beth (Jeff) Welin of Magnolia, MA, Sharon (Jonathan) Christensen Clark of Moorhead, MN, Julie Christensen and fiance; Robert Schreib, Scott Smith of Concord, CA and Andrew Smith of Concord, CA. He will truly be missed by his siblings, Barbara Berquist of Gig Harbor, WA and Darwin Christensen (Donna) of Olympia, WA and Paul (Nancy) of Port Orchard, WA. He will always be remembered by his grandchildren, Erin, Brannen, Timothy, Benjamin, Michael and Christopher. He was preceded in death by his parents, along with his brothers, David and Derald Christensen. Visitation for Duane will be on Friday, January 11, 2013 from 1:00 to2:00 PM at Salvation Army Community Church, 3950 Clayton Road, Concord, CA. A funeral service will begin at 2:00 PM at Salvation Army Community Church. Burial will be private.

(יוחנן רכב הסופר)

Categories: Duane Christensen, Suzanne Haik-Vantoura | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “On the passing of Dr. Duane Christensen

  1. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    Reblogged this on The Chronicles of Johanan Rakkav and commented:

    As so many have noted for so many centuries, one of the problems of getting older is that you have to watch the changing of the guard all around you…

  2. One thing that is constant in happening, “Change.”

  3. I read this earlier and ran out of time to comment. I did hear of Mr. Christensen’s passing. However I was not aware he knew or was associate with SHV and her work. He sounded like a man of morals and respect. I am sure he loved her work greatly. Both of the Psalms here are so peaceful and calming. I wondered if you knew when these were sung, chanted anciently, were other instruments used or was it primarily the chanting? I have wondered that since you first introducing me to this blessed Psalms.

    • Late answer to your questions: We know little of the instruments to which Psalms 23 and 62 were sung, but we no longer know nothing at all. Psalm 23 probably was accompanied by the basic *kinnor or Semitic lyre which was David’s favorite instrument; it has a relatively “neutral tone color”, as one might expect from such a wooden lyre. Psalm 62 is “for Jeduthun” who likewise played the *kinnor in David’s psalmodic ensemble (and led a section comprised of his sons), but the “tone color” implied by the “euphony” of melody and words suggested to Suzanne that this was a special *kinnor, named after the one who preferred to play it and which had particular tonal characteristics.

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