This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing to use this website, you consent to our use of these cookies.
Faculty and Vice Presidents

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

The Rev. James W. Farwell, Ph.D., is the Professor of Theology and Liturgy. Dr. Farwell joined the VTS faculty in 2012. His areas of expertise include liturgical and sacramental theology; liturgy, suffering, and trauma; theories of ritual and religion; comparative theology; and theologies of religion. Prior to his appointment at VTS, he held full-time appointments at Bethany College and General Theological Seminary and was Affiliate Professor in the doctoral program in Liturgics at Drew University.

Dr. Farwell holds a Ph.D. in Religion from Emory University, an M.Div. from The General Theological Seminary, and a B.A. in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America.

Before joining the faculty at VTS, Dr. Farwell was Thomas W. Phillips Chair of Religious Studies and Professor of Religious Studies and Philosophy at Bethany College where he chaired the programs in the Humanities. In addition to his full-time faculty appointments he has taught Liturgics at Bexley Hall; Asian Philosophy at Berry College; Inter-religious Dialogue at Hunter College/CUNY; and for several years, while serving as Canon Theologian of the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, 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.

Dr. Farwell is the author of the book This Is the Night: Suffering, Salvation, and the Liturgies of Holy Week (T. & T. Clark, 2005); and a new version of the classic primer The Liturgy Explained (Morehouse, 2013). He has written numerous book chapters, essays, and journal articles on liturgy, sacramental theology, prayer book revision, dual religious belonging, and learning across religious traditions. His current writing 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.

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 is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Society for Comparative Theology, and the North American Academy of Liturgy, in which he is the founding convenor of the Seminar on Liturgy and Comparative Theology. Professor Farwell served for many years in parish ministry in Jacksonville, Miami, Atlanta, Long Island, and around West Virginia. He has served on the Board of Directors for Church Publishing (Morehouse, Seabury, CP), and was the east coast consultant to NBC’s “The Book of Daniel.”

Recent Publications:
“On Whether Christians Should Participate in Buddhist Practice: A Critical
Autobiographical Reflection,” Journal of Interreligious Studies and Intercultural Theology
I.2 (2017), 243-256; and
“Salvation, the Life of Jesus, and the Eucharistic Prayer: An Anglican Reflection and
Proposal,” Liturgy, 31:3 (2016), 19-37.

“Taking the Liturgical Turn in Comparative Theology: Monastic Interreligious Dialogue as a Supporting Case.” In Interreligious Relations and the Negotiation of Religious Boundaries: Explorations in Interrituality. Marianne Moyaert, ed. Palgrave, 2019.
“Barth’s Theology of Religion and Dōgen’s Nondualism.” In Karl Barth, Theologies of Religious Pluralism and Comparative Theology. Martha Moore-Keish and Christian Collins Winn, eds. Fordham University Press, 2019.
“Liturgy and Ministry.” In The Study of Ministry: A Comprehensive Survey of Theory and Best Practice. Martyn Percy et al., eds. SPCK, 2019.
“On Whether Christians Should Participate in Buddhist Practice: A Critical Autobiographical Reflection.” Journal of Interreligious Studies and Intercultural Theology I:2 (2017), 243-256.
“A Reflection on the Eucharistic Prayer in Light of the Possible Revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.” In Issues in Prayer Book Revision. Vol 1. Robert Prichard, ed. Church Publishing, 2018.
“‘Proper Liturgies for Special Days’ in the 1979 Prayer Book: Considerations in the Light of Possible Revision.” Sewanee Theological Review 61:1 (2017), 193-212.

In Print

List of 2 items.

  • The Liturgy Explained

  • This Is the Night: Suffering, Salvation, and the Liturgies of Holy Week

3737 Seminary Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22304  |  Phone: 703-370-6600 or 800-941-0083 | Employee Directory