Krister Stendahl has died

The news has already started to make the rounds. Esteemed New Testament professor and former Dean of Harvard Divinity School has passed away this morning after a long bout with cancer. This post cannot possibly substitute for an official obituary, so I shall not attempt the task. I would just like a note a few highlights on his relationship with Mormons.

Stendahl had been a pioneer on interfaith dialogue and had been a long-time defender of the Mormons. Having established relationships with LDS students at Harvard, he became engaged in LDS scholarship. He wrote an article on “The Sermon on the Mount and Third Nephi in the Book of Mormon,” in Meanings , ed. K. Stendahl (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984): 99-113 (also in Madsen, Reflections on Mormonism). He is also the author of the article on “Baptisms for the Dead” in the Encyclopedia on Mormonism. Stendahl appears in the LDS film about temples called Between Heaven and Earth. He also became publically involved in defending the LDS temple construction in his native Sweden.

We have lost a great friend today.

[This was posted earlier today before the information was officially made public. Email sometimes moves faster than official news. I apologize for any inconvenience.]

7 Replies to “Krister Stendahl has died”

  1. Honestly I was most surprised that he was still around. That sounds horrible, but I first encountered him in college which was longer ago now than I care to admit. I think Stendahl deserves a lot of praise for bringing LDS into the kind of interfaith dialog which has characterized the last period of LDS history. This is sad.

  2. I will never forget his concept of “holy envy” which he taught in Between Heaven and Earth. That seriously changed the way I viewed religion.

  3. We still have not engaged his thought as thoroughly as we could. His insights on interfaith dialogue inspired me to make it a subject of research in my graduate studies. Mormons would do well to pay him more attention.

  4. I never took a class from him, but I have great memories of meeting him, hearing him speak and appreciated his gentle wisdom, magnetic personality, and to-die-for accent.

  5. I have always enjoyed his insights and scriptural exegesis. Stendahl was also one of the teachers of Elaine Pagels, who is and has been one terrific read in the Gnostic materials. Standahl did a magnificent thing saying we should have “holy envy” for the best in all religions, and to only compare the best with the best. He was an inspiring example of the kind of kind and gentle scholars we ought to emulate.


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