Smith College
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063


Brief Biographical Statement

Karl Donfried was born and raised in New York City and educated at Trinity School. He received his B.A. degree from Columbia College, his M. Div. degree from Harvard Divinity School, his S.T.M. from Union Theological Seminary in New York and his Doctor of Theology from the University of Heidelberg. Dr. Donfried served as associate pastor of Advent Lutheran Church, New York City, as well as acting Lutheran Chaplain at Columbia University. He studied theology at the University of Heidelberg, working primarily with Professor Günther Bornkamm in the field of New Testament Studies. He was first appointed to the faculty of Smith College in 1968 and served as the Elizabeth A. Woodson Professor of Religion and Biblical Literature until 2005.

     Dr. Donfried also served as Fulbright Visiting Professor at the Freie Universität Berlin and the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin in 2004; as Fulbright Visiting Professor at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, in 1997; as Visiting Professor at Yale University Divinity School in 1993; and as Visiting Professor in the theological faculty of the University of Hamburg during 1985. He has also taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels at Brown University, St. Hyacinth, a Roman Catholic seminary in Granby, Massachusetts, as well as at Amherst, Mount Holyoke and Assumption Colleges. Professor Donfried, an internationally recognized New Testament scholar, has written widely for journals and included among the several books that he has authored or edited are Who Owns the Bible? Toward the Recovery of a Christian Hermeneutic, The Dynamic Word: New Testament Insights for Contemporary Christians, The Romans Debate, The Theology of the Shorter Pauline Letters, Judaism and Christianity in First-Century Rome, The Thessalonians Debate and Paul, Thessalonica And Early Christianity. He has served as Chair of several Seminar groups for the International Society of New Testament Studies (SNTS).

     Canon Donfried has been deeply involved in various aspects of the ecumenical movement, both in its pastoral and scholarly dimensions. Partially as a result of his leadership in developing and leading the Ecumenical School of Theology at Christ Church Cathedral in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Episcopal Bishop of Western Massachusetts elected him to serve as Ecumenical Canon of the Cathedral in 1977, a position Canon Donfried continues to hold. He has chaired the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Committee of New England and was also appointed co-chair of the New Testament Panel of the National Lutheran Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue which produced the influential volumes Peter In The New Testament and Mary In the New Testament. Professor Donfried was an official delegate of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to the signing of The Joint Declaration on The Doctrine of Justification in Augsburg, Germany, on October 31, 1999.

     Professor Donfried’s current research projects continue to center around 1 Thessalonians as well as Paul chronology and theology. Of particular interest is the relationship of Paul to the Judaisms of the Second Temple Period. Specific emphasis is given to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the role they play for a new understanding of both Judaism and Christianity, and their interaction with each other, in this period.

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