January 15, 2008

Margaret A. Farley, a Catholic nun and former Yale Divinity School ethicist, has been awarded the Grawemeyer Award in Religion by the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the University of Louisville. A member of the Sisters of Mercy, Farley received the award for her book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, which was called “an important message in light of all the confusion surrounding sexuality today.” Louisville seminary professor Susan Garrett, who directs the award program, said Farley’s work draws “clear and compelling guidelines from Christian tradition on what makes love ‘just.’” Farley, the first woman to teach full-time at Yale Divinity School (1971-2007), is past president of the Society of Christian Ethics and the Catholic Theological Society of America. Past recipients of the Grawemeyer Award, which comes with a $200,000 cash prize, include novelist Marilynne Robinson, theologian Miroslav Volf and ethicist Larry Rasmussen.

Lowell W. Livezey, 64, a veteran peace activist who later led major studies on urban congregations in Chicago and Boston, died of pancreatic cancer at his New York home on December 9. His death was announced by New York Theological Seminary, where he was professor of urban and religious studies. After receiving master and doctor of divinity degrees at the University of Chicago Divinity School, he spent two decades in the peace movement, eventually directing the World Without War Council from its New York office. At Princeton University his studies led to a book, Nongovernmental Organizations and the Ideas of Human Rights. His studies on urban congregations resulted in the book Public Religion and Urban Transformation (2000). He also taught at Harvard. He joined the New York seminary faculty in 2005.

John Strugnell, 77, a prominent biblical scholar whose tenure as chief editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls project ended in controversy, died November 30 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He died while being treated in a hospital for an infection associated with cancer treatment. A former professor of Christian origins at Harvard Divinity School, Strugnell was appointed editor in chief in 1984. Six years later, when the scholarly team working on the scrolls was being criticized for its sluggish publication and exclusive control over access to the scrolls and fragments, Strugnell gave an interview to an Israeli newspaper in which he said of Judaism: “It’s a horrible religion. It’s Christian heresy, and we deal with our heretics in different ways.” Strugnell later denied that he was anti-Semitic, noting that he was the first editor to include Jewish scholars in the Christian-dominated project. His family and friends said he was struggling with alcoholism and manic depression. He was replaced as editor and was forced to retire from Harvard. At the same time, other pressures on the project team speeded up publication and access to the scrolls.