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Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

James M. Weiss

theology department


James Weiss

Associate Professor

Stokes N435
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Phone: 617-552-3897
Fax: 617-552-0794

Office Hours


M.A., Ph.D., The University of Chicago


A fifth-generation Chicagoan transplanted to Boston College in 1979, James Weiss has also taught on visiting appointments at the Universities of Munich, Harvard, and Notre Dame. Trained in history and church history, his work has turned from Renaissance and Reformation spirituality to contemporary spirituality, 1900 to the present.

The Capstone Program, which he founded and has directed since 1990, offers over 30 sections a year to 400 seniors on subjects of lifelong commitment in work, relationship, citizenship, and spirituality. Twenty-four faculty from 18 departments teach in the program. An Episcopal priest with a ministry in spiritual direction, Rev. Weiss serves two different parishes in Boston's Back Bay and the inner-city Dorchester neighborhood.


Contemporary Spirituality since 1900
Renaissance and Reformation Church History
Biography as a Literary Form
Spirituality of Work & Vocation


Personal and Social Responsibility
Introduction to Christian Spirituality
Religious Quest I
Capstone: One Life, Many Lives
Contemporary Spirituality since 1945


German Academic Exchange Fellow
Harvard University Mellon Fellow
Carl S. Meyer Award of the Sixteenth Century Conference
American Council of Learned Societies Travel Grant
Newberry Library Research Fellow
Numerous research and travel grants from Boston College


Humanist Biography in Renaissance Italy and Reformation Germany: Friendship and Rhetoric. Farnham, Surrey; Burlington, VT: Ashgate/Variorum, 2010.

"Beyond Individuality: Varieties of Biography in the Italian Renaissance"

"The Six Lives of Rudolph Agricola: Forms and Functions of the Humanist Biography"

"Rhetoric and Friendship in the Development of Humanist Biography"

"Erasmus at Luther's Funeral: Melanchthon's Biographies of Luther"

"German Humanist Lives of the Saints, 1485-1520"

Numerous entries in Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, Encyclopedia of the Renaissance, and Westminster Dictionary of Church History


Prof. Weiss's recently published book, Humanist Biography in Renaissance Italy and Reformation Germany: Friendship and Rhetoric, synthesizes his interest in human individuality with his research on biography as a renewed form of literature in the Renaissance and Reformation.

Academic Articles

“Humanism,” “Renaissance,” “Beatus Rhenanus,” and "Stanislaus Hosius,” in Vol. 1 of The New Westminster Dictionary of Church History, edited by Robert Benedetto. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008.

"Kennst Du das Land wo die Humanisten blühen? The Role of Italy in the Biographies of German Humanists, 1485-1585." In Vol. 1 of Germania Latina…: Politik, Wissenschaft, humanistische Kultur …, edited by Eckhard Kessler and Heinrich Kuhn, 439-455. Munich: Fink, 2003.

Educational Articles

“Faith of Our Forebears: Interpreting Religion at Plimoth Plantation,” Plimoth Life, 2011, 3-5.

“A Kinder, Gentler Pope Benedict,” op-ed piece for The Boston Globe, April 19, 2006.

“Precedents and Priorities at the Coming Conlave,” op-ed piece for The Boston Globe, April 13, 2005.

“College Kid at the Council: Reflections on a Year at Vatican Council II, 1964/5”, Commonweal, December 16, 2005, 12-14.