John L. Hiigel, Ph.D.

Professor, Biblical Studies/Area Chair of Humanities

The 2022-23 school year is Dr. John Hiigel’s 25th on the USF faculty. He teaches a variety of courses in the Old and New Testa­ments, New Testament Greek and occasional ministry courses. Half of his assignment is to teach Introduction to the Bible, a tremendous opportunity to interact with first-year students from many denomi­nations and backgrounds and the full range of our school’s majors. Opening the Bible with those students year after year prompted Hiigel to write Partnering with the King (Paraclete Press, 2013), a devotional study in the Gospel of Matthew designed to explain living as Jesus' disciples.  More recently he has written The Good Wine: Experiencing Jesus' New Life, drafts of which he is using with current students.  USF aims to “develop mature Christians for service to God in the world,” and Hiigel has written these books to help emerging adults here and across the nation read the Bible with a view to working out mature Christian living and service. 

Hiigel’s teaching work is an extension of his career in the ministry. He was raised in a Christian home. His father was a church choir director and a college-level music educator, and Hiigel went to college at UCLA and graduate school at USC to become a musician himself. He worked as a union musician in Los Angeles both as a trombonist and a singer for more than a decade, including national and international touring. During his college years, he got involved with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, committed his life firmly to the Lord Jesus, and discovered the joy of opening the Bible with fellow students. It eventually became clear that a career as a trombonist was not going to work out. He injured his lip overplaying during a summer full of parades and shows at Walt Disney World and never fully recovered. After a long stretch of praying and discerning, Hiigel went to Fuller Theo­logical Seminary for his Master of Divinity degree and began in 1975 a 23-year span of pastoral ministry in Southern California churches. He was ordained by the American Baptist Churches, and, after 10 years as a minister of music and youth, he served as a senior pastor from 1985 to 1998. Highlights included opportunities to be involved with Hispanic and Korean congregations in the church facilities, to partner in service with churches on both sides of the Mexican border, to join forces frequently with an inner-city L.A. church to minister to the poor and the addicted, and to guide his congregation into "adopting" an unreached people in Central Asia and networking with other congregations committed to reaching them with the gospel.

Hiigel returned to Fuller to pursue a Ph.D. in New Testament during his last pastorate in Los Angeles and was mentored by outstanding scholars: Judith M. Gundry, Ralph P. Martin, Robert Banks and Donald A. Hagner. In the process of those studies, he wrote Leadership in 1 Corinthians: A Case Study in Paul’s Ecclesiology (Edwin Mellen Press, 2003). His doctorate paved the way to come to the University of Sioux Falls, where he loves to teach and to serve students in a pastoral way. 

Hiigel and his wife, Cindi, celebrate their 43rd wedding anniversary this year.  Their daughter is a high school music educator in Sioux Falls. 


  • Ph.D., Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary, 1999
  • M.Div., Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary, 1980
  • B.A., Music, University of California, Los Angeles, 1973

Courses Taught

  • THE140 - Introduction to the Bible
  • THE309 - New Testament Greek I
  • THE310 - New Testament Greek II
  • THE311 - N.T. Greek Reading
  • THE317 - Jesus & the Gospels
  • THE318 - Letters of Paul
  • THE319 - Hebrews to Revelation
  • THE340 - Christian Spiritual Formation
  • THE352 - Genesis
  • THE363 - Gospel of Matthew
  • THE390 - Small Group Bible Study Leadership
  • THE394 - Land of the Bible (Travel to Israel)
  • FA200 - Humanities Through the Arts
  • MUS130 - Introduction to Music
  • THE356 - Psalms and Wisdom
  • THE368 - Paul's Prison Letters

Scholarships and Creative Work

  • "Life Through Wisdom and Righteousness: The Two-ways Paradigm in Proverbs" (1995, 2006, Unpublished text used in Psalms and Wisdom course).
  • The Good Wine: Experiencing Jesus' New Life (2021, awaiting publication - used in the Introduction to the Bible course)
  • Leadership in 1 Corinthians: A Case Study in Paul's Ecclesiology (Edwin Mellen Press, 2003).
  • Partnering with the King: Study the Gospel of Matthew and Become a Disciple of Jesus (Paraclete Press, 2013).

Service/Volunteer Work

Member, teacher, musician: Oak Hills Baptist Church, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Pulpit supply preacher and wedding officiant for congregations in the region.
Campus Sponsor for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship