Luminaries / John Behr / The Mystery of Life in Death

The Luminaries series is a collection of interviews with premier thinkers working in the theological academy and the church. In this Luminaries interview, I talk with Fr. John Behr, the esteemed patristics scholar, on a wide range of topics related to his work, including the Gospel of John, Irenaeus and Origen, and the mystery of Christ and of life in death.

John Behr is the Regius Professor of Humanity at the University of Aberdeen, previously having been at St Vladimir’s Seminary, New York, where he also served as Dean, and is also a part-time Professor at Radboud University, Nijmegen, Holland. His recent publications include an edition and translation of Origen’s On First Principles, together with an extensive introduction, and a study of the Gospel of John, both with OUP, and, forthcoming, a new edition and translation of, and extensive introduction to, Gregory of Nyssa, On the Human Image of God (otherwise known as On the Making of Man) also with OUP.

Show Notes


Fr. Behr’s website:


Ashton, John. Understanding the Fourth Gospel.

Athanasius. On the Incarnation.

Behr, John. Asceticism and Anthropology in Irenaeus and Clement.

———. Irenaeus of Lyons: Identifying Christianity.

———. John the Theologian and his Paschal Gospel: A Prologue to Theology.

———. The Nicene Faith. Formation of Christian Theology 2.

———. The Way to Nicaea. Formation of Christian Theology 1.

———, and Conor Cunningham, eds. The Role of Death in Life: A Multidisciplinary Examination of the Relationship between Life and Death.

Brown, Peter. The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity.

Derrida, Jacques. The Gift of Death.

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Possessed.

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality. 3 vols.

Henry, Michel. I Am the Truth: Toward a Philosophy of Christianity.

———. Incarnation: A Philosophy of the Flesh.

———. Words of Christ.

Käsemann, Ernst. The Testament of Jesus: A Study of the Gospel of John in the Light of Chapter 17.

Origen. On First Principles. Translated by John Behr.

Sanders, E. P. Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion.


(01:31) – Diner coffee and assam/lapsang souchong tea

(02:31) – John the Theologian

(09:01) – Rediscovering modern philosophy

(10:42) – The Prologue to the Gospel of John

(18:11) – “And the Word was towards God”

(27:07) – Contemporary scholarship on Irenaeus

(30:43) – The “Great Church” and heresy

(37:30) – The body: Church fathers, Peter Brown, Foucault

(41:33) – Origen in translation

(52:11) – Death: re-thinking “it is finished”

(01:04:53) – What’s wrong with “the Bible”

(01:11:43) – Original sin and the Fall


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