Remembering Jean Bethke Elshtain, political scientist and Christian

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 14 2013 2:25 p.m. MDT

On Sunday, political scientist and author Jean Bethke Elshtain passed away. At The Atlantic, Emma Green looks back on a theorist memorable for her potent realism, and commitment to bringing theology into the discussion.

“As befits a political theorist, Elshtain's ideas eclipsed her accolades. ‘She wanted to be absolutely realistic about structures of power and political power that operate in our world that we should not be naïve about,’ said William Schweiker, a University of Chicago professor and colleague of Elshtain's. ‘In the terms of political philosophy, she was called a political realist,’” Green notes of Elshtain, who was noted for her realistic outlook on politics.

“But, importantly, she was a political realist of a very specific sort: Christian. … ‘Her joint appointment in political science and the divinity school at [the University of] Chicago was truly unusual,’ said Erik Owens, a professor at Boston College who worked with Elshtain when she was his dissertation adviser. ‘Religion was not taken seriously enough as a proper subject of study by political scientists through most of her career, and political science was equally suspect in most divinity schools. She helped to bring these two disciplinary guilds into conversation with one another. This may be one of her greatest legacies as a professional academic.’”

Elshtain gave two forum address at BYU.

Read more about Jean Bethke Elshtain on The Atlantic.

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