Tribute to Professor Turid Karlsen Seim (1945–2016)

Kalsen Seim contributed to the LWF’s ecumenical relations and to the wider ecumenical movement. Photo: LWF/M. Renaux
Kalsen Seim contributed to the LWF’s ecumenical relations and to the wider ecumenical movement. Photo: LWF/M. Renaux

Long-standing member of Lutheran–Roman Catholic Commission on Unity passes away

Professor Turid Karlsen Seim died in Oslo on 3 November 2016 at the age of 71 after an 18 month battle with cancer. She was born on 8 October 1945 in Bergen, Norway.

For almost three decades, Karlsen Seim contributed to the LWF’s ecumenical relations and to the wider ecumenical movement. She was one of the longest standing members of the Lutheran–Roman Catholic Commission on Unity, on which she had served since 1994. As the Nordic representative in the commission, she contributed her expertise in the fields of biblical studies and early church history. She died three days after the Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration of the Reformation, in Sweden. As a member of the dialogue commission, Kalsen Seim had been involved in the preparation of the Common Prayer of the study report From Conflict to Communion, on which the Lund Cathedral prayer service was based.

Karlsen Seim was a member of the Faith and Order Plenary and Standing Commissions from 1991—2005 and as such engaged in the wider ecumenical movement.

Besides her commitment to the quest of the unity of the church, Karlsen Seim had a long and varied academic career as a teacher and mentor of doctoral students, both in Norway and internationally. In her research and teaching she moved from biblical exegetics to gender studies and from ecumenical theology to early church history. The Festschrift published on the occasion of her seventieth birthday (Bodies, Borders, Believers, 2015) describes her as “a pioneer in her interdisciplinary and border-crossing movements”.

Karlsen Seim finalized her PhD on New Testament exegetics in 1990, and became the first Norwegian woman to earn a doctorate in theology. In 1990 she became the first woman to become dean of the Faculty of Theology, a position she held until 1995. In 1991, she was appointed as professor of New Testament exegetics at the University of Oslo. In 2007 she was elected director of the Norwegian Institute in Rome, a position from which she retired in summer 2015.

In 2009 Professor Turid Karlsen Seim became a member of the The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and in 2015 was awarded the Christian Council of Norway’s Prize for Ecumenism.