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Ralph Janssen (1874-1972) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Ralph Janssen (1874-1972)

Historical Note:

Ralph Janssen was born in Zeeland, Michigan, in 1874. Janssen received his BA from the University of Chicago in 1897. Janssen furthered his education by studying abroad, attending the universities of Halle-Wittenberg and Heidelberg in Germany and Strasbourg of France.  In 1892, Janssen received his PhD in philosophy from Halle-Wittenberg.  In 1902, Janssen accepted a faculty position at Calvin College as professor of Greek and Hebrew. By 1906, Janssen set off for Europe again, this time to study at the University of Leipzig, the Divinity School of the United Free Church in Glasgow, and the Free University of Amsterdam. 

In 1909, Janssen became Professor of Greek at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, until 1914.  Janssen returned to Grand Rapids as Calvin Seminary Chair of Hebrew Language and Exegesis. Because of the controversy surrounding Janssen, he was dismissed from his teaching duties in 1923. Also in 1923, Janssen moved to Chicago and became a stockbroker at Halsey Stuart Investment Company. Janssen continued to do some lecturing and tutoring until his death in 1942.  Janssen and his wife, Johanna, had six children together: John, Gertrude, Andrew, Catherine, Martha, and Margaret.

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