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Kenneth Henke ’69 has a thorough knowledge of languages to pull from as he reads religious literature dating back to ancient times. He developed a fascination in religion as chapel assistant during his senior year at Lafayette and as an active member of the College Church.

Recently, he was promoted to reference archivist at Princeton Theological Seminary. He works with materials as diverse as German writings on the Reformation and cuneiform tablets from ancient Egypt.

Henke is a former educator who was head of religious studies at a Quaker school in South Jersey. While there, he had replicas of those tablets for classes.

“I used to have a plastic model of cuneiform tablets; now I have the real things,” he says with a laugh. He uses the vast resources at his fingertips to help with research projects from around the world and local high school students who want to better understand history.

“A lot of my work is with exhibiting (different writings) and explaining them,” Henke says, so it’s important for him to understand what he has at his fingertips.

Those include materials in Russian, German, Latin, French, and Spanish, and Henke has a working knowledge of all those languages. His major was German, a language his three children have pursued as well to an extent.

In addition to knowledge of other languages, Henke believes traveling around the world is valuable. He began traveling in college, going to Europe, then serving in India through the Gandhi Peace Organization.

“It challenged me to think about the ethical dimension of religion,” he says.

“I wish more young people would go to Third World countries,” he adds, noting that it gives students a different perspective on their place in the world.

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles