Top 20 Most Influential Christian History Professors

If you think of Christian history professors, you may think to look in divinity schools. But, not all professors work within Christian colleges. Some of the most influential history of religion professors may be digging in the sand in a Mediterranean desert or he or she may be hired by a Christian college, but have a focus on another religious practice or focus on Christianity as adopted by another country. These top 20 most influential Christian history professors fit those descriptions and more.

The following list is arranged alphabetically by surname.

  1. Dr. AttridgeDr. Harold W. Attridge was appointed as the first Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean of Yale Divinity School in 2009. Dean Attridge has made scholarly contributions to New Testament exegesis and to the study of Hellenistic Judaism and the history of the early Church. Attridge currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Biblical Literature and has authored six books.
  2. Dr. BellingerDr. W. H. Bellinger, Jr. is Chair of the Department of Religion, Baylor University and W. Marshall and Lulie Craig Chairholder in Bible Professor of Religion. He is known for his research on worship texts in the Old Testament. Much of his work explores the book of Psalms. He has also written on Leviticus and on prophetic texts related to worship. Professor Bellinger serves currently on the Steering Committee for the Book of Psalms Section of the Society of Biblical Literature and on the Editorial Board of the Catholic Biblical Quarterly.
  3. Dr. CabezonDr. José Cabezón is XIV Dalai Lama Endowed Chair in Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies in the Department of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara. The winner of many awards and fellowships, Dr. Cabezón also is a prolific writer. He currently is working on a book and another study about the commodification of Tibetan religion and culture, tentatively entitled “Consuming Tibet.”
  4. Dr. CaryDr. Phillip Cary is professor of philosophy at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, where he is also Scholar-in-Residence at the Templeton Honors College. Cary is a recent winner of the Lindback Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching at Eastern University. Dr. Cary has also published a series of lecture courses in the Great Courses series with The Teaching Company, including one on the History of Christian Theology, as well as courses on Luther and Augustine.
  5. Dr. ClarkDr. Anthony E. Clark, assistant professor of East Asian history at Whitworth, will host the TV series “The Saints of China: Martyrs of the Middle Kingdom,” which will air in spring 2011 and that is expected to reach millions of viewers. Whitworth also has created a semester-long study program at Beijing’s Minzu University of China. Set to begin in fall semester 2011, the program, Whitworth in China, will take place every three years.
  6. Dr. FitzgeraldDr. James Fitzgerald is a scholar of Sanskrit and ancient Indian literature and intellectual history in the Department of Religious Studies, Brown University. His research and writing centers upon the translation of the gigantic, 2000 year old Indian epic, the Maha-bha-rata, and the interpretation of it as a work of religious and political literature in its historical context. In 2006 he was named Lindsay Young Professor of the Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Tennessee.
  7. Dr. GregoryDr. Brad S. Gregory, Dorothy G. Griffin Associate Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Notre Dame, co-edited “Seeing Things Their Way,” a collection of essays that aims to bridge the gap between intellectual history and the history of religion. In addition to his training as a historian, he has two degrees in philosophy, both earned at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.
  8. Dr. John-Paul HimkaDr. John-Paul Himka is professor at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. His approach to the history has helped the history department at Lviv University, Ukraine, gain international recognition. Since 1976, Himka has been visiting the Ukraine to conduct research. By working closely with academics and teaching courses in Lviv, and by bringing students to the University of Alberta, he has helped younger Ukrainian scholars see their own history in “a different light, in a better light.”
  9. Dr. Hudnut-BeumlerDr. James Hudnut-Beumler is the Anne Potter Wilson Distinguished Professor of American Religious History at Vanderbilt University and dean of the Divinity School. Prior to coming to Vanderbilt in 2000, he was dean of the faculty at Columbia Theological Seminary and director of the undergraduate program in Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Hudnut-Beumler is a member of the American Academy of Religion, American Society of Church History, and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.
  10. Dr. KhalilDr. Mohammad Hassan Khalil is assistant professor of religion and visiting professor of law at the Department of Religion, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He specializes in Islamic thought and is author of Islam and the Fate of Others: The Salvation Controversy (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). Prof. Khalil recently organized an international symposium (April 16–17, 2010) called “Islam, Salvation, and the Fate of Others.”
  11. Dr. KieckheferDr. Richard Kieckhefer is professor of religion and history in the Department of Religious Studies at Northwestern University. Books include European Witch Trials (Routledge & Kegan Paul; 1976), Repression of Heresy in Medieval Germany (Pennsylvania, 1979), Unquiet Souls (Chicago, 1984), Magic in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, 1989), Forbidden Rites (Sutton and Penn State, 1997), and Theology in Stone (Oxford, 2004).
  12. Dr. KoesterDr. Helmut Koester began teaching at Harvard Divinity School in 1958 and became John H. Morison Research Professor of Divinity and Winn Research Professor of Ecclesiastical History in 2000. Among his numerous publications are books and articles in both German and English, including Trajectories Through Early Christianity (with James M. Robinson). His two-volume Introduction to the New Testament and Ancient Christian Gospels are seminal works in the field.
  13. Dr. MacCullochDr. Diarmaid MacCulloch is Professor of the History of the Church, in the Theology Faculty at St. Cross College, Oxford. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, and co-edits the Journal of Ecclesiastical History and currently can be seen presenting “A History of Christianity — the first 3,000 years” on BBC4. This effort is the first truly panoramic series on Christian history since Bamber Gascoigne’s 13-part The Christians, shown on ITV in 1977.
  14. Dr. McGuckinDr. John Anthony McGuckin was installed as the first Ane Marie and Bent Emil Nielsen Professor in Late Antique and Byzantine Christian History at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York in 2008. Dr. McGuckin is the author of 20 books of historical theology and he was awarded the prestigious Henry Luce III Fellowship in Theology for 2006. In 2007, Prof. McGuckin was awarded the Order of Stephen the Great, the Gold Cross of Moldavia and Bukovina, for priestly and academic Service.
  15. Dr. MeeksDr. Wayne A. Meeks is one of the foremost authorities on the social world of the Apostle Paul. At Yale since 1969, Meeks served intermittently as chairman of the department of religious studies from 1972 to 1983, and he was director of the division of the humanities from 1988 to 1991. Meeks was president of the Society of Biblical Literature in 1985, holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Uppsala, and is Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy.
  16. Dr. PagelsDr. Elaine Pagels perhaps is best known as the author of The Gnostic Gospels, The Origin of Satan, and Adam, Eve and the Serpent. She has published widely on Gnosticism and early Christianity, and continues to pursue research interests in late antiquity. Her most recent books include Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (was on the New York Times best-seller list) and Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity, co-authored with Karen King of Harvard.
  17. Dr. PitkinDr. Barbara Pitkin, senior lecturer in religious studies at Stanford, specializes in the study of Christianity, particularly on the religious thought and culture of late medieval and early modern Europe. She is the author of What Pure Eyes Could See: Calvin’s Doctrine of Faith in its Exegetical Context and co-editor of The Formation of Clerical and Confessional Identities in Early Modern Europe.
  18. Dr. PorterfieldDr. Amanda Porterfield is Robert A. Spivey Professor of Religion and a historian of American religion with interests religion and politics, religion in popular culture, Native American religions, and American religious thought in the Department of Religion at Florida State University. She is the author of Healing in the History of Christianity, and co-editor with John Corrigan of the quarterly journal Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture.
  19. Dr. WackerDr. Grant Wacker is a well-known American religion expert. He joined the Duke Divinity School after teaching in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1977–1992. Wacker is also the Director of the Ph.D. Graduate Program in Religion at Duke University. He is co-editor or author of six books, and is working on a book, under contract with Harvard University Press, to be called Billy Graham and the Making of Heartland America.
  20. Dr. WhiteDr. L. Michael White is Ronald Nelson Smith Chair in Classics and Christian Origins, and director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins at the University of Texas at Austin. White was featured in two award-winning PBS/Frontline documentaries, for which he served as principal historical consultant and co-writer: “From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians” (1998), and “Apocalypse! Time, History, and Revolution” (1999).

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