Jaroslav Pelikan, a Yale University historian, leading scholar of Christianity, and keen analyst of the work of higher education, died on Saturday (see Associated Press obituary). Scholars of religion will remember his many books, including a magisterial five-volume history of Christianity titled The Christian Tradition. Scholars outside the field may remember him more for The Idea of the University: A Reexamination (Yale University Press, 1992), his view of how a university’s single-minded devotion to knowledge gave it a pre-eminent standing in the world, and made religious institutions and organizations stronger for that scrutiny (see an essay two years ago by Carlin Romano [The Chronicle Review, July 26, 2002]). Later that year, Mr. Pelikan shared the $1-million John W. Kluge Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities and Social Sciences (The Chronicle, November 30, 2004). He was also a frequent member of panels convened to study issues and problems of academe (The Chronicle, September 28, 1994, and May 5, 1995).
May 15, 2006