VTS Cecil Woods Visiting Fellow Honored By The Vatican


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Alexandria, Va. – Virginia Theological Seminary’s spring 2009 Cecil Woods Visiting Fellow, the Rev. Richard Burridge, Ph.D.,  received the Ratzinger Prize for Theology from Pope Francis during a Vatican ceremony
on Oct. 26, 2013. Burridge, dean and director of New Testament Studies at King’s College London, earned the award for “his contribution to the historical and theological recognition of the Gospels’ inseparable connection to Jesus of Nazareth,” according to the Vatican.

“When the entire New Testament world took the view that the Gospels were not biographies, it was this young scholar trained in the classics who explained that this was wrong, that the Gospels are Greco-Roman biographies,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of VTS, who attended the award ceremony. “He has developed this theme in several books and articles, some of which he worked on while at Virginia Theological Seminary.”

Burridge’s books include Imitating Jesus: An Inclusive Approach to New Testament Ethics (Eerdmans, 2007) and Four Gospels, One Jesus?: A Symbolic Reading (Eerdmans 2005), the third edition of which will be available in March 2014.

“I'm so grateful to the Holy Father and to the Church for honoring my work in this way and the fact that it means that the way in which we read the Gospels across the world has changed now,” Burridge said, according to the Catholic News Agency, which covered the event.

The Church of England priest was one of two award recipients, along with lay German theologian Christian Schaller. Burridge is the first non-Roman Catholic to receive the prize, created in 2010 and funded by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Foundation. 

Upon being notified of the award this summer, Burridge told the Vatican that his being non-Catholic “says something about the importance of what has been happening over the last two or three decades, not just in Anglican and Roman Catholic dialogue, but internationally in biblical studies, as we have been working more and more closely together.”

Markham noted that the dialogue has been helped by Rome’s Anglican Centre, whose mission is to “promote Christian unity in a divided world,” and which he visited while in Rome for Burridge’s award.

“The Roman Catholic Church is an important conversation partner for all Episcopalians, this center—the embassy for the Anglican Communion in Rome—is a rich resource for such conversations,” Markham said. “It ensures the conversation is really happening, and Richard’s award is evidence of this.

“It is delightful to see a good friend of the seminary be the first non-Roman Catholic to be so honored,” Markham continued. “It is an appropriate accolade for the strength and depth of Anglican scholarship.”


Founded in 1823, Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church. The school prepares men and women, representing more than 40 different dioceses and nine different countries, for service in the Church, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas. Visit us online at