School of Humanities and Sciences


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  • Van Harvey

    Van Harvey

    George Edwin Burnell Professor of Religious Studies, Emeritus

    BioVan A. Harvey, Short biographical statement.

    Van Harvey was born of Christian missionary parents in China in 1926. The family returned to the United States in 1929 where it took up residence in California. After graduating from High School in 1943, he went into the Naval V-12 program and was commissioned an Ensign in the United Naval Reserve in which he served on a destroyer in the last months of World War II. After his discharge he entered Occidental College where he met his wife, Margaret Lynn, and from which he graduated as a major in philosophy (Phi Beta Kappa) in 1948. He then attended Yale University where he acquired his Ph.D in modern Western religious thought.
    He has taught at Yale, Princeton University, Southern Methodist University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University where he retired in 1996 as George Edwin Burnell Professor of Religious Studies. He has twice been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship as well as Fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the Humanities Center at Stanford. In his last year at Stanford he was honored with the Dean’s Award for Excellence in teaching.
    Mr. Harvey's intellectual concerns might roughly be characterized as having to do with the various challenges secular thought has cast up for religious faith in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These concerns are reflected in many articles in professional journals as well as his influential book, The Historian and the Believer. His last major work dealt with one of the most influential critics of religion in the Nineteenth century and was entitled Ludwig Feuerbach and the Interpretation of Religion, (Cambridge, 1995). It won the American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in 1996.
    Mr. Harvey and his wife have two sons. one is a graphic artist and the other is private tutor in mathematic and English.