Krister Stendahl, 1921-2008

Died this day, Krister Stendahl, bishop in the Church of Sweden and professor emeritus of Harvard Divinity School.

I kind of thought he would live forever — and not in the way one speaks of Christian hope. He leaves a remarkable legacy. Let him rest in peace.

Link: Wikipedia biography including the Stendahl’s three rules of religious understanding

I never met him; surely someone who reads this blog has. Please comment if you like.

5 Replies to “Krister Stendahl, 1921-2008”

  1. I remember him strolling around the Brandeis campus – an amazing figure amidst students who maybe didn’t all know quite who this man was…but a remarkable legacy, indeed.

  2. I’ve posted about him on my blog. (I heard on Friday that he was near death and began posting then. I also linked to a post from a year ago.) I was privileged to be a student at HDS in the 70s when he was Dean and he was a mentor to me for many years after as well. The second friend who called me after he died (the first was calling to tell me the news) said, as you just did, “we thought he was immortal.”

    Thank you for remembering him. He leaves many spiritual children. May we be worthy of him.

  3. Krister was Dean of the Divinity School when I started there as a student in 1978, and taught me my first honest-to-God one-size-fits-all Seminarian summoned on to pray with short notice table grace: “Lord [God/Spirit], to those who are hungry, give bread; and to those who have bread, give the hunger for justice.” Still one of the most useful and practical things I learned at Harvard, which is in NO way intended to denigrate any of the OTHER useful and important things, practical or otherwise, that I also learned there.

    Years, YEARS later I would occasionally see him summers on Nantucket, where he was a sometimes parishioner of my next door neighbor, the Episcopal minister. The last time I saw him was at an HDS reunion dinner at the Harvard Club in the Back Bay in what must have been my 25th reunion year, 2006. I also thought that he would live forever, along with my other Nantucket Neighbor, the Rev. Fred Rogers. And you know, maybe he does….

  4. I arrived at Harvard Divinity School in 1991, just after Bishop Stendhal went out to Waltham to Brandeis. Yet he was still around the Div School often and I was very fortunate to have been there to hear him give talks and lead HDS chapel. He preached on the first chapter of John’s gospel just before semester break my first year there. One of the best five sermons I’ve heard in my life, at least one of the five that had the most impact at time of hearing. (I remember going home and staring at my nativity set for a long time that night thinking about that sermon). It is an awesome, inspiring and holy man that touches your life so powerfully from what seems to be such peripheral contact.

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