Teresa Berger named the inaugural Golden Professor of Catholic Theology

Jared A. Gilbert '12 M.Div.

Teresa Berger, professor of liturgical studies since 2007, has been named as the inaugural Thomas E. Golden Jr. Professor of Catholic Theology. Professor Berger holds doctorates both in liturgical studies and in constructive theology.  Her scholarship explores the intersections of both disciplines with gender theory.

Berger most recently edited Liturgy in Migration, a volume that explores how liturgical practices, forms, and materials have migrated and continue to migrate across geographic, ethnic, ecclesial, and chronological boundaries. The final chapter explores liturgical practices in cyberspace.  

Dean Gregory E. Sterling said,  “Teresa is an exceptional scholar in the field of liturgy and theology. I am very pleased that the inaugural holder of this chair is a scholar of Teresa’s extraordinary breadth and depth.”

Sterling Professor and former dean Harold W. Attridge, who is also Roman Catholic, said that the YDS had long envisioned a professorship in Catholic studies.  He explained, “Although Catholic students at YDS do not usually pursue ordination, many become involved in pastoral and educational work in their careers, and this chair adds a permanent catholic voice in those fields at YDS.”

Berger believes studies in Catholic theology are critical to a more global perspective on Christianity. “Given that Roman Catholics make up more than half of all Christians on the face of the globe, courses in Catholic theology and Catholic liturgy should be of interest to anyone interested in Christian history, liturgy and global Christianity,” she says.   

Students from the Roman Catholic tradition are a growing presence at YDS. Sterling said, “The timing of this chair is propitious. Roman Catholic students now form the second largest group of YDS students.”

Those who have taken courses with Berger learn that the history of Christian theology and Christian liturgy are symbiotic. That this professorship is located particularly in the Divinity school takes on special importance given the unique mission of the school to train scholars and practitioners.

“I see this appointment as strengthening something that has always been an integral part of my scholarly work, namely research and teaching in the area of Catholic theology and liturgical practice. I see this chair as an invitation to teach some courses with an explicit focus on the Catholic tradition, both at YDS and the broader university.”

YaleNews announced the appointment on July 3:

Teresa Berger, newly named as the inaugural Thomas E. Golden Jr. Professor of Catholic Theology, teaches liturgical studies at Yale Divinity School and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. She focuses her research at the intersections of liturgical studies and Catholic theology with gender theory, specifically gender history.

Berger is the author or editor of numerous books, including Gender Differences and the Making of Liturgical History, Dissident Daughters: Feminist Liturgies in Global Context, and Fragments of Real Presence: Liturgical Traditions in the Hands of Women. She has contributed scores of articles and chapters to edited volumes and journals. Her multimedia productions include a video documentary, “Worship in Women’s Hands,” and a CD-ROM, “Ocean Psalms: Meditations, Stories, Prayers, Songs and Blessings from the Sea.”

Originally from Germany, Berger received a Licentiate of Theology from St. John’s College (Nottingham, England) and two master’s degrees from Johannes Gutenberg-Universität (Mainz, Germany). She holds a doctorate in constructive theology from Ruprecht Karl-Universität (Heidelberg, Germany) and a doctorate in liturgical studies from Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität (Münster, Germany). She was also awarded the Habilitation, a postdoctoral degree, from Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität.

Berger has held teaching positions at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Humboldt-University, and Uppsala University. Before coming to Yale in 2007, she was a full professor at Duke University’s Divinity School.

Berger is a member of the American Academy of Religion, Societas Liturgica, and the European Society of Women in Theological Research, among others. In 2003, she received the Herbert Haag Prize for Freedom in the Church.

July 15, 2014
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