Biblical Scholar: Dominic Crossan

The Lord’s Prayer is Christianity’s greatest prayer. It is also Christianity’s strangest prayer, according to John Dominic Crossan. Residents of central Pennsylvania had an opportunity to learn exactly why over a series of three lectures on Wednesday and Thursday March 14 and 15 at Miller Chapel on the Lebanon Valley College campus. 

Crossan lectured on his most recent book, The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord’s Prayer. Each of the three lectures had a distinct focus: the meaning of the prayer, the humanity of the prayer, and the divinity of the prayer. 

This book on the Lord’s Prayer is just the most recent of dozens. Over the last forty years, the accomplished Biblical scholar has written twenty-five books on the historical Jesus, earliest Christianity, and the historical Paul, five of which were national religious bestsellers. Crossan is most well known for his work on researching the historical Jesus. Notably, Crossan was the co-chair of the Jesus Seminar from 1985 to 1996, which met in twice-annual meetings to debate the historical accuracy of the life of Jesus in the gospels. Most recently he was elected President of the Society of Biblical Literature for 2011-2012.

Besides authoring books, Crossan has lectured to hundreds of audiences across the United States as well as in Ireland and England, Scandinavia and Finland, Australia and New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, and South Africa. He has been interviewed on radio stations, prime time television networks, and cable television documentaries.

Crossan’s resume is extensive, consisting of scholarship which spans over 60 years. He was a member of a thirteenth-century Roman Catholic monastic order, the Servites, from 1950 to 1969 and an ordained priest from 1957 to 1969. During that time he received a Doctor of Divinity from St. Patrick’s College in Maynooth, Ireland in 1959 and did post-doctoral research at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome from 1959 to 1961 and at the École Biblique in Jerusalem from 1965 to 1967. Crossan resigned from the priesthood in 1969 and became an Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at DePaul University in Chicago. He remained there until 1995.

Crossan has also been the recipient of many awards, including awards for scholarly excellence from the American Academy of Religion in 1989, DePaul University in 1991 and 1995, and an honorary doctorate from Stetson University, DeLand, Florida, in 2003.

Crossan brings a new perspective to this age-old prayer; his lecture series is something you do not want to miss. In the prologue to his book, Crossan writes, “What if the Lord’s Prayer is neither a Jewish prayer for Jews nor yet a Christian prayer for Christians? What if it is – as this book suggests – a prayer from the heart of Judaism on the Matthew Christianity for the conscience of the world? What if it is – as this book suggests – a radical manifesto and a hymn of hope for all humanity in language addressed to all the earth?”