1 September 2016 • Amsterdam
The Amsterdam Center for Orthodox Theology (ACOT) has announced that the Executive Board of Vrije Universiteit (VU) on September 1, 2016, appointed the Very Reverend Dr. John Behr, dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS) and professor of Patristics, to its newly established Metropolitan Kallistos Chair of Orthodox Theology. In this part-time position, Fr. John will visit Amsterdam and work at VU a number of times each year, as he continues his work at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. As a professor at VU, Fr John will also be able to supervise doctoral students.
Father Michael Bakker, director of ACOT, commented on Fr. John’s credentials and teaching gifts, saying, “Besides excellent academic qualifications, Father John Behr brings with him great experience in educating students of diverse backgrounds in an international context. Our students will serve their communities in a pluriform society, and they need to be able to reflect critically on their own faith.
“We have calculated that The Netherlands has about 190 thousand inhabitants with an Orthodox background,” continued Fr. Michael. “Approximately 55 thousand of them belong to the Oriental Orthodox family, for example, Armenians, Copts, Ethiopians.
“In 2015,” Fr. Michael further explained, “the Dutch Minister of Education decided to grant VU a special budget to educate clergy for these growing churches. At the time of Fr. John’s inaugural lecture at VU on Friday, January 13, 2017, details will be provided about ACOT’s Orthodox programs.”
Professor Wim Janse, dean of the Faculty of Theology at ACOT, added, “A full and dedicated chair in Orthodox theology broadens and enriches our academic horizon.”
Father John received his doctorate in 1995 from the University of Oxford after being supervised by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware. His doctoral work, which examined issues of asceticism and anthropology, focused on Ss. Irenaeus of Lyons and Clement of Alexandria and was published by Oxford University Press (OUP). Father John also founded the Formation of Christian Theology series at St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press (SVS Press), which includes his books The Way to Nicaea and The Nicene Faith; his subsequent book The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death synthesized those studies. More recently Fr. John published a poetic, meditative work entitled Becoming Human: Theological Anthropology in Word and Image, and also a full study of St. Irenaeus: St. Irenaeus of Lyons: Identifying Christianity. He has completed a new edition and translation of Origen’s On First Principles (OUP, 2017), and he currently is working on a new edition and translation of the works of St. Irenaeus of Lyon and on a book on the Gospel of St John.