World renowned theology scholar and author John Dominic Crossan will present the first Manfred O. Meitzen Outstanding Theological Lecture at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7, in G-24 Eiesland Hall. The lecture was recently renamed to honor the life of the late WVU professor who directed WVU ’s religious studies program for 25 years.


Crossan, professor emeritus at DePaul University in Chicago, will discuss the ways in which historical, archeological and literary evidence can be used to discover the historical Jesus.


Educated in both Ireland and the United States, Crossan was co-chair from 1985 to 1996 of the Jesus Seminar, an organization that meets regularly to discuss the historicity of the life of Jesus in the Gospels. He has received awards for scholarly excellence from both the American Academy of Religion and DePaul University. He has conducted biblical and archeological research in Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and numerous sites in Israel, including Jerusalem.


The author of 18 books on the historical Jesus and early Christianity, Crossan has also appeared on A&E’s Mysteries of the Bible, PBS ’s From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians and ABC ’s Peter Jennings Reporting: Search for Jesus.


Meitzen, who spent his entire academic career at WVU , initiated the guest lectureship in theology a number of years ago. Upon his death in a motorcycle accident in 1997, the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences received contributions to strengthen and enhance the series and recently named the lectureship in Meitzen’s memory.


“John Crossan is a world famous scholar and we are delighted to have him here,”said Richard Montgomery, director of the religious studies program in the Eberly College.”It is especially fitting that he would be the distinguished speaker to inaugurate a lecture series honoring the man responsible for creating it.”


The Manfred O. Meitzen Outstanding Guest Theological Lecture will be offered periodically by the Program for Religious Studies. Wednesday’s lecture is free and open to the public. Crossan will sign books following the lecture.