Divinity Library Special Collections

Norvin Hein Papers

An Ohio native, Norvin Hein (1914-2018) earned a B.A. from the College of Wooster (1937), a B.D. from the Yale Divinity School (1946), and a Ph.D. from Yale University (195O). He spent most of the war years in India, working as an English instructor, for the Army Y.M.C.A., and as a chaplain’s yeoman in a U.S. Maritime Service training station. He returned to Yale in 1945, and in 1950 began a distinguished, thirty-five-year-long academic career that included positions as Instructor in Comparative Religion (1950-52), Assistant professor (1952-58), Associate professor (1958-75), and Director of S.T.M. Studies (1973-76) at the Divinity School, then Professor (1975-85) and Director of Graduate Studies in Yale’s Department of Religious Studies (1977-85). Hein’s experiences in India set the course for his academic career. The religious practices that he had observed in India—religious street theater, especially—awakened him to an essential site-specific aspect of religion and forms of devotion that sprang from agrarian tradition. This became the focus of his dissertation and an eventual book, The Miracle Plays of Mathura (1972), following which Hein authored and contributed to more than a dozen books and published over two-dozen scholarly articles and reviews on various aspects of Hindu religious practices, especially folk plays. Among his more enduring scholarly contributions was the 100-page section on Hinduism that he wrote for the well-known Religions of the World textbook (2nd ed. 1988), which enjoyed an extended life through the publication of several subsequent editions. At the time of his death, he was Divinity School’s oldest living faculty member.

Archival collections

Digitized materials

The Wedding of Indira Nehru [Gandhi]

Select bibliography

Click here for a select bibliography of the writings of Norvin Hein.

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Friday, April 1, 2022 - 11:29am