BAR 34:05, Sep/Oct 2008
Krister Stendahl (1921–2008)
Biblical scholar Krister Stendahl, former dean of Harvard Divinity School and former bishop of Stockholm, died on April 15, 2008. He was 86.
Stendahl’s research spanned the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. He advanced the cause of ecumenicism and championed the rights of minorities, including women, gays, lesbians and African-Americans, particularly in the religious sphere.
Stendahl was born in 1921 in Stockholm, Sweden, where his father worked as a harbor administrator. His family was not very religious; rather, his faith arose during a painful bout with arthritis when he was 16. His illness informed his later reading of religious texts, leading him to identify with and meditate on Jesus’ pain.
Stendahl studied at Uppsala University, where he was ordained in the Church of Sweden (Lutheran) in 1944. He served as a priest and as chaplain at Uppsala until receiving his doctorate there in 1954.