Very Rev. Dr. John Behr

Dean, Professor of Patristics

Father John Behr is the Dean of St Vladimir’s Seminary and Professor of Patristics, teaching courses in patristics, dogmatics and scriptural exegesis at the seminary, and also at Fordham University, where he is the Distinguished Lecturer in Patristics.

Father John hails from England, though his family background is Russian and German - and clerical on both sides. From the Russian side, his great-grandfather was sent to London by Metropolian Evlogy to serve there as a priest in 1926; his father was also a priest, ordained by Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom), as are his brother (at St Paul’s Monastery on Mt Athos) and his brother-in-law (Sts Cyril and Methodius, Terryville, CT). His maternal grandparents met at Karl Barth’s graduate seminar in Basel, and served in the Lutheran Church in Germany, where his grandfather was a Lutheran pastor.

After completing his first degree in Philosophy in London in 1987, Fr. John spent a year studying in Greece. He finished an M.Phil. in Eastern Christian Studies at Oxford University, under Bishop Kallistos (Ware), who subsequently supervised his doctoral work, which was examined by Fr. Andrew Louth and Rowan Williams, now Archbishop of Canterbury. While working on his doctorate, he was invited to be a Visiting Lecturer at St Vladimir’s Seminary in 1993, where he has been a permanent faculty member since 1995, tenured in 2000, and ordained in 2001. Before becoming Dean in 2007, he served as the editor of St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, and he still edits the Popular Patristics Series for SVS Press.

His early work was on issues of asceticism and anthropology, focusing on St. Irenaeus of Lyons and Clement of Alexandria. After spending almost a decade in the second century, Fr John began the publication of a series on the Formation of Christian Theology, and has now reached the fifth and sixth centuries. He has recently completed an edition and translation of, and introduction to, the remaining texts of Diodore of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia. He has also published a synthetic presentation of the theology of the early centuries, focused on the mystery of Christ.

His other passion is cycling, especially restoring and riding vintage bicycles (see some pictures) including a historic Hetchins. The Tour de France dominates the Behr family life during July, dictating the scheduling of important family events. Fr. John’s wife, a Tour de France enthusiast and armchair cyclist, teaches English at a nearby college, and their two sons and daughter are being taught to appreciate the finer points of French culture: the great “constructeurs” of the last century, Le Grande Boucle, and ... cheese.

  • B.A. in Philosophy, Thames Polytechnic, London, 1987
    B.A. dissertation: "Of God, Man, and Creation: A Comparative Study of the Anthropology of the Greek Fathers and Emmanual Levinas"
  • M.Phil. in Eastern Christian Studies, Oxford University, 1991 
    M.Phil. Thesis: "Sexuality, Marriage, and Asceticism in Second-Century Christian Writings"
  • D.Phil. in Theology, Oxford University, 1995
    D.Phil. Thesis: "Godly Lives: Asceticism and Anthropology, with Special Reference to Sexuality, in the Writings of St Irenaeus of Lyons and St Clement of Alexandria"
  • M.Th., St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, 1997
    M.Th. Thesis: "Translation of Irenaeus' Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching with Introduction and Notes"

Books and Publications

  • Irenaeus of Lyons: Identifying Christianity, Christian Theology in Context (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2013)
  • Becoming Human: Meditations on Christian Anthropology in Word and Image (Crestwood, NY, SVS Press, forthcoming, 2013)
  • St Athanasius: On the Incarnation, translation and introduction, Popular Patristics Series (Crestwood, NY, SVS Press, 2011)
  • The Case Against Diodore and Theodore: Texts and Their Contexts, Oxford Early Christian Texts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 526pp.
  • The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death (Crestwood, NY: SVS Press, 2006). 186 pp.
  • The Nicene Faith,vol. 2 of The Formation of Christian Theology (Crestwood, NY: SVS Press, 2004). 2 vols in paper; single hardcover volume 580 pp.
  • (ed. with A. Louth and D. Conomos), Abba: The Tradition of Orthodoxy in the West: Festschrift for Bishop Kallistos Ware (New York: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2003). 376 pp.
  • The Way to Nicaea, vol. 1 of The Formation of Christian Theology (Crestwood: SVS Press, 2001). 261 pp.
    Romanian translation (Bucharest: Sophia, 2004); Russian translation (Tver: Hermeneutica, 2006)
  • Asceticism and Anthropology in Irenaeus and Clement (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). 261 pp.
  • St Irenaeus of Lyons: On the Apostolic Preaching (Crestwood: SVS Press, 1997). 121 pp.


  • "Plundering the Egyptians: The Use of Classical Paideia in the Early Church," forthcoming in A. Bezzerides, V. Shevoz, and E. Prodromou eds., Orthodox Christianity Higher Education, and the University: Theological, Historical, and Contemporary Reflection (Notre Dame, forthcoming)
  • "Learning through Experience: The Pedagogy of Suffering and Death in St Ireaneus," in D.G. Hunter, ed., Evil and Suffering in the Ancient Church and Society (Baker Academic, forthcoming)
  • "Reading the Fathers Today," in J. Mihoc and S. Aldea eds., (London: T&T Clark, forthcoming 2013).
  • 'Nature, Wounded and Healed in Early Patristic Thought," Toronto Journal of Theology 29.1 (2013), 85-100; in Italian, "La natura ferita e risanata nell'antico pensiero patristico", in L'uomo custode del creato. Atti del XX Convegno Ecumenico Internazionale di Spiritualità Ortodossa, Monastero di Bose, 5-8 settembre 2012, (luglio 2013).
  • "The Promise of the Image," in Thomas Albert Howard ed., Imago Dei: Human Dignity in Ecumenical Perspective (Washington DC: Catholic University of America Press, Jun3 2013), 15-37.
  • "'Let there be Light!' A Byzantine Theology of Light," in Gerald O'Collins and Mary Ann Meyers eds., Light from Light: Scientists and Theologians in Dialogue (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012), 183-194.
  • "The Spirit and the Bride Say Come! The Eschatological Dimensions of the Liturgy," Communio 38.3 (Fall 2011), 465-485.
  • "Communion and Conciliarity", Album Accademico 2010-11, Pontificio Istituto Orientale, Rome, 48-59.
  • "Returning to First Principles: Articulating Orthodox Theology in a Post-Modern Context," in Thinking Modernity, ed. A. E. Kattan and F. A. Georgi, Balamand heological Conferences 1 (St John of Damascus Institute of Theology, University of Balamand; Westphalian Wilhelm's University, Center for Religious Studies, 2010), 21-35.
  • "The Eschatological Dimensions of Liturgy," Assembly: A Journal of Liturgical Theology 35.1 (2010), 2-9.
  • "Gaul," The Varieties of Christianity to 250 C.E. in The Cambridge History of Christianity,vol. 4, ed. Margaret Mitchell and Frances Young (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).
  • "What are We Doing Talking about God: The Discipline of Theology," in A. Papanikolaou and E. Prodromou, eds., Thinking Through Faith: New Perspectives from Orthodox Christian Scholars (Crestwood, SVS Press, 2008), 67-86.
  • "Calling upon God as Father: Augustine and the Legacy of Nicaea", in A. Papanikolaou and G.E. Demacopoulos, eds., Orthodox Readings of Augustine (Crestwood, N.Y.: SVS Press, 2008), 153-65.
  • "With Boldness and Without Condemnation", St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 51.4 (2007), 359-69.
  • "Response to L. Ayres: The Legacies of Nicaea, East and West," Harvard Theological Review, 100.2 (2007), 142-52, 173.
  • "Marriage and Asceticism," Sobornost 29:2 (2007), 24-50. Available in PDF format in English (1.22 Mb) and Russian (274.72 Kb)
  • "Taught by the Apostles," Christian History, Fall 2007
  • "One in Christ: An Historical Look," AGAIN, summer 2006
  • "Faithfulness and Creativity," in Orthodox and the World Today: Sixth Congress of the Higher Orthodox Schools of Theology, Sofia, 5-10 October 2004 (Sofia: St Kliment Ohridski University Press, 2006), 166-73.
  • "The Church in Via," delivered at the Plenary session of the Conference on Eschatology, Theological Commission of the Moscow Patriarchate, Nov. 14-17, 2005. Georgian translation in Archevani, January 2006.
  • "For the Welfare of the Churches of God," AGAIN, summer 2006. French translation in Le Mesager Orthodoxe.
  • "The Motherhood of the Church" and "Mary as a Type of the Church" in  Vierge Marie - Église Vierge: Acts du quatrième colloque de théologie  orthodoxe de l’Université de Sherbrooke, (Sherbrooke: Université de Sherbrooke,  Éditions G.G.C, 2005), 13-29, 83-95.
  • "Early Christian Apologists," "Docetism," and "Irenaeus" in The New Westminster Dictionary of Church History, ed. Roberto Benedetto (Westminster John Knox Press).
  • "The Question of Nicene Orthodoxy," in Byzantine Orthodoxies: Papers from the Thirty-Sixth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, University of Durham, 23-25 March, 2002, ed. A. Louth and A. Casiday (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), 15-27.
  • "Virgin Mother - Virgin Church." Russian translation, "Virgin Mother - Virgin Church," Bogoslovskii Vestnik 2004, no.4, 123-149.
  • "Theology and Exegesis," forthcoming in Collected Papers of the Orthodox Theological Research Forum, UK.
  • "The Trinitarian Being of the Church" St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 48:1 (2004), 67-88. Russian translation in Tserkov i Vremya 3 (28), 2004, 164-185.
  • "Social and Historical Setting (2nd Century)," for The Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature, ed. F. Young, A. Louth, L. Ayers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 55-70 .
  • "Midwife of the Christian Bible," forthcoming in Christian History 80 (XXII.4).
  • "Tradition" in St Vladimir's Seminary 2003 Education Day book.
  • "Faithfulness and Creativity," in Abba (see above), 159-178.
  • "Interpreting the Incarnation," Sourozh 89 (August 2002), 15-29.
  • "Irenaeus on the Word of God," Studia Patristica 36 (Leuven: Peeters, 2001), 163-7.
  • "The Paschal Foundations of Christian Theology,"St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 45:2 (2001), 115-36.
  • "The Word of God in the Second Century," Pro Ecclesia 9:1 (2000) 85-107 .
  • "Scripture, the Gospel, and Orthodoxy," St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 43 (1999) 223-48 .
  • "The Rational Animal: A Rereading of Gregory of Nyssa's De hominis opificio," Journal of Early Christian Studies 7:2 (1999) 219-247 .
  • "The Trinity," The Living Pulpit (April, 1999).
  • "Severus of Antioch: Eastern and Oriental Perspectives," St Nersess Theological Review 3:1-2 (1998) 23-35.
  • "A Note on the Ontology of Gender," St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 42:3-4 (1998) 363-72. Romanian translation in Studii Theologice, Seria A III-A, 2.4 (2006), 107-7.
  • "Adam" and "Anthropologie" in Dictionnaire de Théologie (Presses Universitaires de France, 1997).
  • "Colossians 1:13-20: A Chiastic Reading," St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 40:4 (1996) 247-65 .
  • "Translating theology," St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 38:2 (1994) 235-40 .
  • "Irenaeus and the Ascetic Ideal," St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 37:4 (1993) 305-13.
  • "Shifting Sands: Foucault, Brown and the Framework of Christian Asceticism," Heythrop Journal 34:1 (1993) 1-22.
  • "Reflections on the Question of Episcopal Celibacy," St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 36:1-2 (1992) 141-9. 
  • "Person and Freedom: The Grounding of Both in Ascesis", Conference of the Theological Commission, Moscow Patriarchate, November 2010.
  • "Orthodox Christianity as Paideia: Faith, Reason, and Culture in the Early Church", October 2010 Trinity Western University, BC Canada (listen here);Eastern University, PA.
  • "Male and Female Created He Them", Parish Ministries Conference, Cleveland, June 2010.
  • "Passing Beyond the Neo-Patristic Synthesis", Volos, Greece, June 2010.
  • "The Promise of the Image", Gordon College MA, May 2010 (watch on YouTube
  • "With Boldness and Without Condemnation", installation speech delivered at the inaguration of St Vladimir's new leadership, September 14, 2007.
  • "The Eschatological Dimensions of the Church", paper presented to the Orthodoxy-Wesleyan Consultation, SVS December 2005; to appear in print.
  • "The Question of Trinitarian Theology" Paper presented to Round Table on Lewis Ayres' Nicaea and Its Legacy, Harvard Divinity School, May 2005; to appear in print.
  • "The Church in Via", Paper delivered at the Plenary Session of the Conference on Eschatology held by the Theological Commission of the Moscow Patriarchate, Danielovsky Monastery, Nov. 14-17, 2005. To appear in Russian; in Georgian in Archevani January 2006.
  • "Eucharistic Ecclesiology Revisited", Paper delivered at the 2005 Summer Conference of the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius, UK.
  • "Tradition and Creativity," paper presented at the Sixth International Congress of Orthodox Theological Schools, Sophia, Bulgaria, October 2004.
  • "Mary-Ann Donovan on St Irenaeus," paper presented to the North American Patristics Society, May 2004.
  • "Trinitarian Being of the Church," paper presented to the North American Lutheran-Orthodox Dialogue, May 2003.
  • "Virgin Mother - Virgin Church," paper to the annual meeting of the Fellowship of Sts Alban and Sergius, August 2003.
  • "Theology and Exegesis," lead paper to inaugural meeting of the Orthodox Theological Research Forum, Cuddeston, UK, August 2003.
  • "Athanasius' Contra Gentes and On the Incarnation as an apologia cruces," paper presented at the Fourteenth International Conference on Patristic Studies, Oxford, August 2003.
  • Eight appearances on "Come Receive the Light," speaking about the Seven Ecumenical Councils, Spring 2003 (
  • "The Challenge of the Fathers," Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, March, 2003.
  • Lenten Retreat, St John's in the Village, NY, Spring 2003.
  • Lecture Series on Orthodoxy, St John's in the Village, NY, Spring, 2003.
  • "The Challenge of the Fathers," St Tikhon's Seminary, November, 2002.
  • "The Question of Nicene Orthodoxy," Opening paper for the Spring Session of Byzantine Studies, Durham, UK, Spring 2002.
  • "Interpreting the Incarnation," Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius Conference, England, August, 2001.
  • Lectures in Patristics and Dogmatics, Saskatoon Institute on Orthodox Theology, 1999.
  • "The Scholarly Dimensions of Christianity," Faculty Seminar, York University, Toronto, 1999 .
  • "The Christian Church as School," Yale University, Graduate Christian Fellowship, 1999.
  • "Orthodoxy," University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, 1998.
  • Lectures on The Church in the Fathers, Catechesis, The Jesus Prayer, Tradition, Marriage at St Vladimir's Seminary Summer Institutes.
Teaching Experience: 
  • Distinguished Lecturer in Patristics, Fordham University 2005-2014.
  • Visiting Professor, Harvard Divinity School, 2004-5.
  • Professor of Patristics, St Vladimir's Seminary, 2004-.
  • Associate Professor of Patristics, St Vladimir's Seminary, 2000-2004.
  • Assistant Professor of Patristics, St Vladimir's Seminary, 1997-2000
  • Lecturer in Patristics, St Vladimir's Seminary, 1995-97
  • Visiting Professor of Patristics, St Vladimir's Seminary, 1993-94
  • Mansfield College, Oxford University: undergraduate lecture series delivered during Michaelmas 1992 term on "Eastern Orthodox Theology and Spirituality"
Church & Professional Activities: 
  • Board of Advisors, Templeton Foundation, 2010-
Editorial Work
  • Advisory Board, Theology and Religious Studies, Versita and De Gruyter
  • Editorial Board, Radical Orthodoxy: A Journal of Theology, Philosophy and Politics
  • Editorial Board, Biblicum Jassyense: Romanian Journal for Biblical Philology and Hermeneutics
  • Editorial Board, International Journal of Orthodox Theology (
  • Editorial Board, Pro Ecclesia
  • Editorial Board, Patristics Monograph Series, North American Patristics Society, Catholic University of America Press.
  • Editor, St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, 2002-2007
  • Editor, Popular Patristics Series, SVS Press, 1999-present
  • Book Reviews Editor, St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, 1996-2002


  • President, Orthodox Theological Society in America, 2005-2007
  • Vice-President, Orthodox Theological Society in America, 2003-2005
  • Secretary, Orthodox Theological Society in America, 1999-2003


  • Made Archpriest in the Orthodox Church in America, 2008
  • Ordained priest in the Orthodox Church in America, 2001
  • Trustee, Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God, Bristol, UK 1989-95