St. Vladimir’s bids farewell to Archpriest John Behr

17 June 2020 • Yonkers, NY

St. Vladimir’s will bid a fond farewell this summer to renowned theologian, St. Vladimir’s Seminary dean from 2007 to 2017, and prolific author and speaker Very Rev. Dr. John Behr. Father John and his family will move to Scotland where he has accepted the position of Regius Professor of Humanity at the University of Aberdeen. As part of his duties he will be directing doctoral students in the study of theology.

While working on his doctorate at Oxford University, Fr. John was invited to be a visiting lecturer at St. Vladimir’s 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; he also edited the Popular Patristics Series for SVS Press.

While dean at St. Vladimir’s, Fr. John oversaw a complete overhaul of the curriculum. The Seminary used to have an undergraduate structure with classes that were one hour in length. Students went through several topics in the course of one day. Father John reorganized the curriculum to a true graduate structure by having students spend three hours on one topic.

Working with Fr. Alexander Rentel, Fr. John also enhanced and improved liturgical instruction. He also made supervised field work in the Clinical Pastoral Education program a requirement.

When asked what he seeks to impart to his students, Fr. John answers simply, “A love of Christ and an encounter with Christ through the study of theology.” He also wants them to have “a willingness to engage with ways of thinking that might be different. We talk so much about the fathers but we tend to choose the quotes we like,” he said. “But I want to impart to them an encounter with the fathers on the fathers’ terms by actually reading their texts and trying to understand what they are saying.”

Alumna Arpi Nakashian (Class of 2015, Master of Arts) said that “Fr. John opened my eyes to read the scriptures in Christ’s light. He opened the book for many seminarians to understand truly ‘Which God are we talking about?’ Today as an alumna, I truly feel honored and blessed to still be called Fr. John’s student as I pursue my doctorate in theology.” 

"When it comes to academics, I must say that he taught me how to think and approach patristic texts,” said Fr. Stefan Djoric (Class of 2018 and 2019; Master of Arts and Master of Theology). “In that sense, just to be around him was a privilege! To pick up his theological mind as much as possible and to form myself theologically under his guidance was indeed a priceless experience!"

"Through his early publications with SVS Press and his later publications with Oxford University Press, Archpriest John Behr has developed a theological platform that raised his profile and now takes on a new chapter at the University of Aberdeen,” said St. Vladimir’s President Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield. “There, he will be overseeing doctoral work that is much needed in the English-speaking Orthodox world. Like Archpriest Georges Florovsky (1893-1979), he now transitions to the university setting where his presence will be more accessible in the international arena.”

The Seminary honored Fr. John at his final Faculty Council meeting at the conclusion of the 2019-2020 academic year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a more public farewell reception as initially planned was not possible. 

The entire community of St. Vladimir’s Seminary—seminarians, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends—wishes Fr. John and his family many years! 

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If you wish to follow Fr. John’s work, visit www.frjohnbehr.com

Popular SVS Press Books by Fr. John

Videos Featuring Fr. John

 

Archpriest John Behr