Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Jaroslav Pelikan: Memory Eternal!

As reported on the St. Vladimir's Seminary website and by many other news sources, Jaroslav Pelikan, recognized by many as the foremost Church historian of our time, fell asleep in the Lord on Saturday, May 13, 2006 after a battle with cancer at the age of 82.

For most of his life Dr Pelikan belonged to the Lutheran Church, but in 1998 he and his wife Sylvia were received into the Orthodox Church in St. Vladimir’s Seminary Chapel. Members of Dr. Pelikan’s family remember him saying that he had not as much converted to Orthodoxy as "returned to it, peeling back the layers of my own belief to reveal the Orthodoxy that was always there."

In his life Dr Pelikan wrote nearly 40 books and over a dozen reference works covering the entire history of Christianity. Some of his most significant books are the five-volume “The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine,” “The Riddle of Roman Catholicism” and a multi-volume English edition of the works of Martin Luther. Not only was he the author of scholarly books, but he also wrote several best-sellers for general readers, including “Jesus Through the Centuries,” “Mary Through the Centuries” and “The Idea of the University: a Reexamination.”

In an interview in U.S. News & World Report (July 26, 1989), he shared these words, which provide profound insight into his perspective as a faithful Christian scholar: “Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. Tradition lives in conversation with the past, while remembering where we are and when we are and that it is we who have to decide. Traditionalism supposes that nothing should ever be done for the first time, so all that is needed to solve any problem is to arrive at the supposedly unanimous testimony of this homogenized tradition.”

May his memory be eternal!

(gleaned from the St. Vladimir's Seminary website)