Who Is Jaroslav Pelikan?

I was given a book to read written by Jaroslav Pelikan. I recognized the name but wasn’t sure why. I might just be thinking of the bird, who knows.

Jaroslav Pelikan
your average pelican

I enjoyed two chapters of the book, but not so much the rest, which might be more me than him. But I was interested enough to find out who he was.

Pelikan is a 20th-Century American Church History professor, teaching at Concordia, the University of Chicago, and Yale. He earned his “PhD by the age of 22. He was known for the great breadth of his expertise, which included study and books on the early church, Augustine, Luther, the development of doctrine, Kierkegaard, medieval philosophy, etc.”

He grew up a Lutheran, and translated 22 volumes of Luther’s writings. But by studying Eastern Orthodoxy, he converted to Orthodoxy when he was 70.

“After being such a strong scholar and Lutheran for so long, it was shocking to the Protestant world when he converted to Eastern Orthodoxy at the age of 70 years old in 1996. He didn’t talk much about his conversion, but a few quotes caught my eye. He said: “I was the Lutheran with the greatest knowledge of the Orthodox Church, and now I am the Orthodox with the greatest knowledge of Luther. ” He also said that he didn’t so much find Orthodoxy as much as return to it, “Peeling back the layers of my own belief to reveal the Orthodoxy that was always there.””

He died in 2006.


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