Victor Premasagar

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P. Victor Premasagar, CSI

The Right Reverend
Victor Premasagar 1.jpg
ChurchChurch of South India
DioceseMedak
Elected1983
In office1983–1992
PredecessorB. G. Prasada Rao
SuccessorB. P. Sugandhar
Orders
Ordinationby Frank Whittaker
Consecration1983
by I. Jesudason
RankBishop
Personal details
Birth namePeddi Victor Premasagar
Born(1927-10-14)14 October 1927
Dudgaon, Telangana
Died1 December 2005(2005-12-01) (aged 78)
St. Joseph's General Hospital, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh
BuriedSecunderabad Cantonment
NationalityIndian
DenominationChristianity
OccupationPriesthood
Previous postGeneral secretary, Church of South India Synod, Chennai, (1980–1983), principal, Andhra Christian Theological College, Secunderabad (1973–1980), professor of Old Testament, Andhra Christian Theological College, Secunderabad (1966–1980)
EducationB. D., M. A., Ph. D.
Alma materAndhra Christian College, Guntur (Andhra Pradesh),
United Theological College, Bangalore (Karnataka),
Westminster College, Cambridge (England),
St Mary's College, Fife (Scotland)

Victor Premasagar (1927 in Medak – 2005 in Guntur) was the fourth successor of Frank Whittaker as Bishop in Medak. He was an Indian churchman and Old Testament scholar with major contribution to the Old Testament and to the field of Theology. Premasagar's articles have appeared in the Expository Times (1966),[1] the Vetus Testamentum (1966),[2] the International Review of Mission (1972),[3] the Indian Journal of Theology (1974), and cited in major works relating to the theme of Promise[4][5] in the Bible and critical works on Psalms LXXX[6][7] and the Hebrew word HOQ[8][9] in the Tanakh.

Premasagar was a pastor hailing from the Church of South India who tended rural congregations in the Diocese of Medak in north Telangana until 1961 when he became a seminary teacher at Dornakal and then moving out to Rajahmundry and later Secunderabad in 1972 and taught Old Testament. In 1980, the Church of South India recalled Premasagar to take up ministerial responsibilities and made him general secretary of the Church of South India Synod at its XVIIth session of the held at Tambaram. In 1983, Premasagar became a bishop and subsequently a moderator of the Church of South India Synod for two consecutive bienniums: 1988–1990 and 1990–1992.[10]

Early years[edit]

Premasagar was born in Medak and was raised a Christian in what is now the Church of South India. In addition to the ancient Indian epics, his boyhood was filled with stories from the Bible. In the foreword to Promise in the Ancestral Narratives, his doctoral dissertation, Premasagar made mention of the Biblical stories that his mother told during his childhood and the promise they held. He completed his schooling from Wesley School in Secunderabad. It was around this time that he to study divinity.

He completed his college studies from the century-old Andhra-Christian College (under Andhra University), Guntur. His contemporaries there included N.T. Rama Rao[11] (a film actor and later Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh) among others. Premasagar was involved in athletics. Football and tennis being his favourite sport.

Spiritual studies[edit]

Graduate: Karnataka[edit]

Victor went to the United Theological College in Bangalore and studied spirituality during 1950-1954[12] and took his Bachelor of Divinity in 1955 in the ensuing convocation of the Senate of Serampore College (University) during the Registrarship of The Rev. William Stewart. While at UTC, Bangalore, those studying during that period include G. Solomon, V. C. Samuel, E. C. John, Samuel Amirtham, N. D. Anandarao Samuel, C. D. Jathanna, K. E. Swamidass, G. B. Devasahayam, among others.

Postgraduate: England[edit]

In due course of time, he was sent to Cambridge University where he specialized in the study of the Old Testament studying from 1964-1966[13] at Westminster College, Cambridge (affiliated[14] to the University of Cambridge) and was awarded the Cambridge Tripos.

Doctoral: Scotland[edit]

In 1969, the Board of Governors of ACTC accorded him study leave which Premasagar used to go to St. Andrews University, Scotland for further studies in the Old Testament and studied in St Mary's College between 1969-1972[13] and was guided by William McKane and J. D. Martin was awarded a Ph.D. by the St. Andrews University based on his dissertation entitled The Theme of Promise in the Patriarchal Narratives.[4]

Ecclesiastical ministry[edit]

Pastor[edit]

After Premasagar's ordination as Presbyter, he began pastoring parishes in Siddipet, Mancherial, Soan and Shankarampet.

Teacher[edit]

Premasagar first taught at the Andhra Union Theological College (AUTC), Dornakal between 1961-1964[13] and his other colleagues included Eric J. Lott and later he left for specialized studies to England. By this time, the AUTC together with the Lutheran Theological College, Rajahmundry and the Baptist Theological Seminary, Kakinada formed the Andhra Christian Theological College in 1964. By the time Premasagar returned from his studies in 1966,[13] he was reassigned to teach at the new entity in the river town of Rajahmundry.

Again between 1969-1972[13] after a period of study leave, he returned to ACTC to continue his teaching and became its second principal in 1973 succeeding W. D. Coleman. On invitation from Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, in the United States of America, he took sabbatical from ACTC to teach there for a year. On his return, the board of governors was pleased to extend the term of principalship by two more terms, 1973–1976 and 1977–1980. David, a New Testament scholar, succeeded Premasagar as principal at ACTC.

Premasagar used to teach Old Testament and Hebrew language at the Andhra Christian Theological College, first at Rajahmundry and then at Secunderabad and co-faculty included W. D. Coleman[15] and M. Vidyanandam.[15] By 1973, Premasagar's collegemate G. Solomon,[16] a Teacher - in - Old Testament at the Ramayapatnam Baptist Theological College joined the faculty, also teaching Old Testament. By 1977, G. Babu Rao,[17] a Teacher - in - Old Testament at Serampore College, Serampore moved to the College.[18]

Synod and bishopric[edit]

Synod[edit]

  • General Secretary

While continuing to serve at ACTC, he was elected in-absentia[13] as General Secretary of the Church of South India Synod at its XVIIth session of the held at Tambaram in 1980.

  • Deputy Moderator

During the XXth session of the Church of South India Synod held at Trivandrum in 1986, Premasagar was elected as the Deputy Moderator.

  • Moderator

During the XIst session of the Church of South India Synod held during 13–18 January 1988 held in Madurai, he was elected[19] as the Moderator of the Church of South India.

Tomb of Victor Premasagar at the Cemetery of CSI-Church of St. John the Baptist, Parade Grounds, Secunderabad Cantonment.

Bishopric[edit]

Later, in 1983 he was elected as the Bishop-in-Medak, Asia's largest Anglican bishopric. It was at this time that indigenous methods were devised and put into practice for raising funds from the local congregations for supporting Church programmes which was met with widespread success. He was instrumental in bringing rapid development of the Church – congregation-wise as well as in its social action.

As for the educational institutions in the diocese of Medak, schools were made to adapt to modern trends to face the changing pattern. St. George's Grammar School, Wesley College and other educational institutions were modernised during Premasagar's tenure.

In the year 1983, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom came to Hyderabad. On 20 November 1983, the Queen celebrated her 36th wedding anniversary in the Holy Trinity Church in Bolarum, Secunderabad.[20] The Church service was officiated by Bishop Premasagar and his ministerial colleagues Rev. B. Prabhakar Rao and Rev. B. P. Sugandhar, the present Bishop-in-Medak and the Moderator of the CSI.

Lambeth Conference[edit]

The Bishops of the Church of South India are invited to the decennial Lambeth Conference held at the Lambeth Palace, the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury in London. Rev. Premasagar attended the eleventh and twelfth conferences in 1978 and 1988 respectively.

Other endeavours[edit]

Bible Society of India[edit]

Premasagar was a translator for the Bible Society of India (BSI) in its Telugu Bible Common Language Translation Programme since the 1970s. He headed the Translations Committee of the Bible Society of India Andhra Pradesh Auxiliary till the 1990s and then was followed by Rev. G. Babu Rao, his colleague while at ACTC. Premasagar was also the President of the Bible Society of India headquartered in Bangalore from 1988 to 1994[21] and continued to be a member of the India Bible Society Trust Association for a long period.

Retirement[edit]

After retirement from the bishopric, Rev. Ryder Devapriyam, Bishop - in - Nandyal and a former colleague of Rev. Premasagar while at ACTC, succeeded him as the Moderator while Rev. B. P. Sugandhar, Presbyter - in - charge of Church of St John the Baptist, Secunderabad became the Bishop-in-Medak.

Post-retirement, Premasagar spent about a year at the Presbyterian Church of Wales as an invitee[22] On his return to India, Premasagar taught part-time at ACTC. He was later invited by Dr. K. Rajaratnam,[23] Director of Gurukul Lutheran Theological College, Chennai to teach and guide doctoral students and was Professor Emeritus of Old Testament.

In 2000, Premasagar accepted an to become principal of Bethel Bible College, Guntur,[24] where he taught until his death at St. Joseph's Hospital, Guntur on 1 December 2005.[25]

Works and legacy[edit]

Premasagar's research works have appeared in scholarly journals including the Vetus Testamentum and the Indian Journal of Theology. Some essays were written in his honour (festschrift) commemorating his shastipoorthi (completion of sixty years) and brought into a book edited by H. S. Wilson entitled The Church on the Move: Essays in honour of Victor Premasagar[18] which was reviewed in 1990 by George Peck in the International Review of Mission Research.[26] and a majority of his writings till that point of time compiled[18] by his colleague, The Rev. G. Babu Rao,[18] CBCNC, appeared in the appendix to the fetschrift.

  • 1966, Note on Psalm lxxx,[1]
  • 1966, A Note on HOQ in the Old Testament,[2]
  • 1972, Crisis for Salvation Theology!,[3]
  • 1974, Theology of Promise in the Patriarchal Narratives,[27]
  • 1976, A Review of the Literature on Pastoral Ministry published in India during the last Twenty-Five Years[28]
  • 1976, He emptied Himself – Bible Studies on Jesus Christ Frees and Unites,[29]
  • 1977, Biblical concept of righteousness and the Indian context,[30]
  • 1992, The Gods of our Fathers - Towards a Theology of Indian Religious and Cultural Heritage[31]
  • 1994, Vanaprasthasrama Dharma: A Programme of Renewal and Religion,[32]
  • 2000, Promise in the Ancestral Narratives: A theme of the early Hebrew traditions,[33]
  • 2000, Evangelium Dei: Mission Paradigm for a New Global Vision,[34]
  • 2002, Interpretive Diary of a Bishop – Indian Experience in Translation and Interpretation of some Biblical passages,[35]
  • 2004, Theology of a Convert: A Contribution to Indian Christian Theology from the Cultural and Religious Heritage of India,[36]
  • 2005, Jacob at the Jabbok: A struggle resulting in Transforming Experience,[37]
Professional and academic associations
Preceded by
Joseph Pathrapankal, CMI[38]
1972-1973
President,[38]
Society for Biblical Studies in India

1974-1975
Succeeded by
Matthew Vellanickal,
Syro-Malabar Catholic Church[38]
1976-1977
Educational offices
Preceded by
Saral K. ChatterjeeLaity
1975-1977
President,
Senate of Serampore College (University),
Serampore

1977–1983[39]
Succeeded by
C. D. Jathanna, CSI
1984-1986
Academic offices
Preceded by
W. D. Coleman, AELC,
W. P. Peery, AELC
1964-1973
Principal,
Andhra Christian Theological College,
Secunderabad

1973–1980
Succeeded by
K. David, CBCNC
1980-1986
Preceded by
W. D. Coleman, AELC
1964-1981
Teacher - in - Old Testament,
Andhra Christian Theological College,
Secunderabad

1966–1980
Succeeded by
G. Babu Rao, CBCNC[18]
1977-1998
Other offices
Preceded by
D. L. GopalaratnamLaity
1978–1980[40]
General Secretary,
Church of South India Synod,
Chennai

1980–1983
Succeeded by
M. Azaraiah, CSI[40]
1983–1988
Religious titles
Preceded by
B. G. Prasada Rao, CSI[40]
1976–1981
Bishop in Medak,
Medak

1983–1992
Succeeded by
B. P. Sugandhar, CSI[40]
1993–2009
Preceded by
Sundar Clarke, CSI[40]
1982–1986
Deputy Moderator.
Church of South India Synod,
Chennai

1986–1988
Succeeded by
D. Pothirajulu, CSI[40]
1988–1990
Preceded by
I. Jesudason, CSI[40]
1982–1988
Moderator
Church of South India Synod,
Chennai

1988–1992
Succeeded by
Ryder Devapriam, CSI[40]
1992
Honorary titles
Preceded by
R. S. Bhandare, CNI
1982-1988[21]
President,
Bible Society of India,
Bangalore

1988-1994
Succeeded by
Robert R. Cunville, TBCU
1994-2000

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b P. Victor Premasagar, Note on Psalm lxxx in Expository Times, Volume 76, 1965-1966, pp.294-295.[1]
  2. ^ a b P. Victor Premasagar, A Note On in the Old Testament, Vetus Testamentum, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp.358 – 361, 1966. [2]
  3. ^ a b P. Victor Premasagar, Crisis for Salvation Theology!, in International Review of Mission, Volume 61, 1972, pp.61-66.[3]
  4. ^ a b P. Victor Premasagar, The Theme of Promise in the Patriarchal Narratives, University of StAndrews, 1972. Cited in Laurence A. Turner, Announcements of Plot in Genesis, Wipf and Stock, Eugene, 2007, p.196.[4]
  5. ^ Walter Kaiser, Jr., The Promise-Plan of God: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1978, p.53.[5]
  6. ^ John Goldingay, Psalms: Psalms 42-89, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, 2007, p.540.[6]
  7. ^ Frank-Lothar Hossfeld, Erich Zenger, Linda M. Maloney, Klaus Baltzer, Psalms 2: A Commentary on Psalms 51-100, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2005, p.308.[]
  8. ^ Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, Volume 79, 1967, p.110.[7]
  9. ^ H. Muszynski, Fundament, Bild und Metapher in Den Handschriften Aus Qumran, Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome, p.vi. [8]
  10. ^ Former bishop passes away, The Hindu, 12 December 2005
  11. ^ After a year of Premasagar's consecration as the Bishop in Medak, his college-mate, Sri N. T. Rama Rao became a Chief Minister. Soon, a visit to the Cathedral in Medak was arranged followed by a public meeting in the Church compound – photo study from the Bishop's archives.
  12. ^ K. M. Hiwale (Compiled), Directory of the United Theological College 1910-1997, Bangalore, 1997. Past students of the college diploma course, p.25.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Church of South India Diocese of Medak, Farewell Address Presented to Victor Premasagar, 1992.
  14. ^ Affiliated through the Cambridge Theological Federation
  15. ^ a b Talathoti Punnaiah, My Memoir, Ministry and Message - 60 years Life Experiences 1950-2010, Self-published by the author, Kakinada, 2010, pp.11, 12, 18, 23, 33.
  16. ^ Foundations: A Baptist Journal of History and Theology, Volumes 11-12, 1968, pp.318-319. [9]
  17. ^ The Story of Serampore and its College, Council of Serampore College, Serampore (Fourth Edition), 2005, p.92.[10]
  18. ^ a b c d e H. S. Wilson (Edited), The Church on the Move: Essays in honour of Victor Premasagar, Christian Literature Society, Madras, 1988, p.vi. [11]
  19. ^ CSI Church.NET [12] Sad News
  20. ^ The Holy Trinity Church [13] Queen's Visit
  21. ^ a b G. D. V. Prasad, Chiranjivi J. Nirmal, Imaging the Word: A Twenty-First Century Perspective, The Bible Society of India 1811-2011, Bible Society of India, Bangalore, 2000, (revised edition 2011), p.115. [14]
  22. ^ The Presbyterian Church of Wales
  23. ^ Gurukul Lutheran Theological College [15] Director's page
  24. ^ Bethel Bible College, About us
  25. ^ The Hindu [16] 12 December 2005
  26. ^ George Peck, Book review on The Church on the move in the International Review of Mission Research, Volume 14, Issue 2, 1990.[17]
  27. ^ P. Victor Premasagar, Theology of Promise in the Patriarchal Narratives, in Indian Journal of Theology, Volume 23.1-2, January–June 1974, pp.112-122.[18]
  28. ^ P. Victor Premasagar, A Review of the Literature on Pastoral Ministry Published in India during the last Twenty-Five Years in Indian Journal of Theology, Volume 25.3-4, July to December 1976, pp.148-158.[19]
  29. ^ P. Victor Premasagar, He emptied Himself – Bible Studies on Jesus Christ Frees and Unites, The Christian Literature Society, Chennai, 1976. [20]
  30. ^ "Biblical concept of righteousness and the Indian context in Indian Journal of Theology, Volume 26.3-4, July to December 1977, pp.105-110.[21]
  31. ^ P. Victor Premasagar, The Gods of our Fathers - Towards a Theology of Indian Religious and Cultural Heritage in Dayanandan Francis and Franklyn J. Balasundaram (Edited), Asian Expressions of Christian Commitment, Christian Literature Society, Madras, 1992, pp.137.146.
  32. ^ P. Victor Premasagar, Vanaprasthasrama Dharma: A Programme of Renewal and Religion as Realisation for Retired People, in Bangalore Theological Forum, Volumes 26-27, 1994. [22]
  33. ^ P. Victor Premasagar, Promise in the Ancestral Narratives: A theme of the early Hebrew traditions, The Christian Literature Society, Chennai, 2000. [23] Books on Christianity in India, Hinduism and Indian culture and history. Retrieved 23 April 2006.
  34. ^ P. Victor Premasagar, Evangelium Dei: Mission Paradigm for a New Global Vision, Ecumenical Christian Centre, Bangalore, 2000.[24]
  35. ^ P. Victor Premasagar, Interpretive Diary of a Bishop – Indian Experience in Translation and Interpretation of some Biblical passages, The Christian Literature Society, Chennai, 2002.[25] Archived 4 June 2004 at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ P. Victor Premasagar, Theology of a Convert: A Contribution to Indian Christian Theology from the Cultural and Religious Heritage of India in Indian Journal of Theology, Volume 46.1-2, 2004, pp.53-58.[26]
  37. ^ P. Victor Premasagar, Jacob at the Jabbok: A struggle resulting in Transforming Experience, in National Council of Churches Review, Volume 125, 2005, pp.445ff.[27]
  38. ^ a b c Fr. Max Gonsalves (Edited), Society for Biblical Studies in India Directory 1998.
  39. ^ Presidents of the Senate
  40. ^ a b c d e f g h K. M. George, Church of South India: life in union, 1947–1997, Jointly published by Indian Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and Christava Sahitya Samithi, Tiruvalla, 1999. [28]