Paul Hanson (’61), Alumnus of Gustavus Religion and Harvard Professor Emeritus, Passes Away at 83 Posted on September 13th, 2023 by

Dr. Paul Hanson, Florence Corliss Lamont Professor of Divinity Emeritus at Harvard Divinity School and Gustavus Department of Religion Alumnus, passed away on June 9, 2023, at the age of 83.

A graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and former member of the Board of Trustees, he, in the words of Dr. Casey Elledge (Professor of Religion), “really loved the college and was truly loyal to it.” 

Dr. Elledge goes on to write:

Paul Hanson (’61) was one of the greatest scholars of religion to have graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College. He genuinely loved the college. He most recently visited Gustavus in Spring of 2015 to lecture on his important book, A Political History of the Bible in America.

During his stay, he attended our Senior Thesis presentations in the Religion Department and discussed our majors’ projects with them. Our students had no idea at the time who this mysterious visitor was, only to discover later that they had been discussing their research with one of the foremost scholars of religion in America!

It was truly a testament to Professor Hanson’s love of the college, modesty, as well as his own good-natured sense of humor.

Dr. Blake Couey (Professor of Religion) likewise remembers Dr. Hanson fondly, adding,
His 1977 book The Dawn of Apocalyptic: The Historical and Sociological Roots of Jewish Apocalyptic Eschatology was a groundbreaking work that established new directions in the study of Second Temple Jewish sectarian movements and their impact on biblical texts.
He was very gracious to me when I visited Harvard as a prospective doctoral student in 2002, and he remained supportive of my work afterwards
And his visit to the student poster presentation in 2015 was entirely voluntary. We didn’t ask or expect him to come, but when he heard about it, he enthusiastically wanted to.
His obituary from the Harvard Divinity School is available here.
May his memory be for a blessing.

Comments are closed.