Dr. Jaroslav J. Pelikan, a 1946 graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and a well-known Yale historian and theologian, died May 13 of lung cancer at his home in Hamden, Conn. He was 82.
A Lutheran who converted to Eastern Orthodoxy, Pelikan wrote more than 30 books. His works include the five-volume set The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, which traces Christianity from its origins to modern times, and Whose Bible Is It?, published last year, which explores how different faiths interpret the Bible.
“For a man as talented and accomplished as he was, he was also exceptionally kind and genuinely humble,” his son, Michael, told the Associated Press. “The more he learned, the more amazed he was by how much he did not know.”
Pelikan joined the Yale faculty in 1962 and later was made a Sterling professor, an honor given to the school’s most distinguished professors. Prior to Yale, he taught at Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind.; Concordia Seminary, St. Louis; and the University of Chicago.
In 2004, he and French philosopher Paul Ricoeur shared the $1 million Kluge prize that honors scholars for their work in such fields as history, sociology, and anthropology.
Pelikan is survived by his wife, Sylvia; children Michael, Martin, and Miriam; a brother, Rev. Theodore Pelikan; and three grandchildren.
Posted May 25, 2006