Farwell Teaching

The Rev. James W. Farwell, Ph.D.

Professor of Theology and Liturgy

The Rev. James W. Farwell, Ph.D., is the Professor of Theology and Liturgy. His fields of expertise include liturgical and sacramental theology; liturgy, suffering, and trauma; theories of ritual and religion; comparative theology; and theologies of religion.

  • Ph.D., Emory University
  • M.Div., The General Theological Seminary
  • B.A., Catholic University of America.

A member of the American Academy of Religion, the Society for Comparative Theology, and the North American Academy of Liturgy, Dr. Farwell is the founding convenor of the Seminar on Liturgy and Comparative Theology. He has served on the Board of Directors for Church Publishing (Morehouse, Seabury, CP), and was the east coast consultant to the NBC television series “The Book of Daniel.”

Dr. Farwell has written numerous book chapters, essays, and journal articles on liturgy, sacramental theology, prayer book revision, dual religious belonging, and learning across religious traditions. He is the author of the following books:

  • This Is the Night: Suffering, Salvation, and the Liturgies of Holy Week (T. & T. Clark, 2005)
  • The Liturgy Explained (Morehouse, 2013).

Current projects include The Eucharist: Understanding Christianity through Its Ritual (New York University Press), The T&T Clark Handbook on Sacraments and Sacramentality, co-edited with Martha Moore-Keish (Columbia Seminary, Decatur GA); and a comparative theology of sacraments and ascetical practice that reflects his twenty-six years’ of experience with the Buddhist tradition of Dōgen Zen.

Before joining the faculty at VTS in 2012, Dr. Farwell was Thomas W. Phillips Chair of Religious Studies and Professor of Religious Studies and Philosophy at Bethany College. In addition to full-time faculty appointments at Bethany and at General Theological Seminary, he was Affiliate Professor in the doctoral program in Liturgics at Drew University. Dr. Farwell has taught Liturgics at Bexley Hall; Asian Philosophy at Berry College; Inter-religious Dialogue at Hunter College/CUNY. For several years, while serving as Canon Theologian of the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, he taught courses in Public Worship and Systematic Theology in the divinity school and Early and Medieval Christian Theology: Classic Texts in the college at Emory University. From 2010 to 2011, Professor Farwell was a Fellow of the AAR/Luce Foundation Summer Seminars on Comparative Theology and Theologies of Religious Pluralism. He served for many years in parish ministry in Jacksonville, Miami, Atlanta, Long Island, and around West Virginia.

On the liturgical side: leading liturgy is the most primal pastoral act, and theological act, that ordained leaders do. But leading liturgy well is a learned art, informed by a sound understanding of ritual, and so I consider it crucial to teach future liturgical leaders for the sake of liturgies that are beautiful, truthful, and have the capacity to coax the assembly into deeper belief and a deeper life with Christ.
I am equally passionate about helping students form a theology of religious many-ness that is a permanent fact of our world, and in thinking through the nature of Christian mission in such a world.
The Rev. James Farwell, Ph.D.