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 religious plurality. Before coming to VTS, he taught at Bethany College, General Theological Seminary, and Drew University.
Dr. Farwell holds the 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 Professor of Religious Studies and Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Humanities at Bethany College. Prior to that, he taught at The General Theological Seminary while also serving as Affiliate Professor in the doctoral program in liturgics at Drew University. He has also taught at Bexley Hall; Berry College; and for several years, while serving as Canon Theologian of the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, taught courses in liturgy and systematic theology in the divinity school 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 delivered an address concerning the role of ritual in monastic interfaith dialogue at an expert symposium on Crossing Ritual Borders: Opportunities, Limits, and Obstacles held at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in October of 2017, and is working on several other projects. These include book manuscripts on The Eucharist: Imagining and Performing the Divine Remedy (New York University Press); and a comparative theology offering a non-dualist approach to the sacrament of the Eucharist that reflects his twenty-three years’ of practice and study in the Buddhist tradition of Dōgen Zen. He is also preparing the essays on the liturgical seasons for Planning for Rites and Rituals: A Resource for Episcopal Worship, Year C, 2018-19 (Church Publishing).
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, the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies, and he is the founding convenor of a seminar on liturgics and comparative theology at the North American Academy of Liturgy.
Professor Farwell served for many years in parish ministry in Jacksonville, Miami, Atlanta, Long Island, and 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.”
“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.