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The Legacy: Biblical & Theological Studies at Wheaton College

The Department of Biblical and Theological Studies is one of the legacy departments of Wheaton College. While instruction in scripture and theology was central from the very beginning of the college’s history (its presidents who were pastors taught these subjects in the 19th century), the department began to develop a faculty roster devoted to formal instruction in the early 20th century. Our first teacher in Bible was Edith Torrey who joined the faculty in 1919 (You can listen to hear an audio clip describing her.)

Increasingly the department began to gather into its ranks many professors who were devoted to academic efforts. Among conservative Christian colleges like Wheaton this was rare in the middle of the 20th century. It was not long before the department was home to scholars who were giving evangelical voice to biblical studies, theology, and even archaeology. Many of their books are still in print and in addition to their enduring value, they are often used to chart for us today the growing engagement of evangelical scholarship.

By the second half of the 20th century, evangelicals were sending many of their best students to major universities in the United States and Europe for graduate education. This post-war era saw the birth of both new seminaries (Fuller, 1947) and rebuilt older ones (Gordon-Conwell, 1969; Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1960) or like a variety of seminaries, launched entirely new graduate-level programs. Evangelicals began to enter the mainstream of national academic conversations, take leadership in national societies, and write books with every major academic publisher. Wheaton College’s developing theology curriculum was a part of this important national trend.

With almost 30 full time faculty, today the department is Wheaton’s largest. When this roster is added to the faculty in practical theology and ancient languages, the resources now available to students is unparalleled. The department offers a full curriculum for students pursuing a BA, MA or PhD. An archaeology lab provides hands-on research into a remarkable collection of ancient artifacts. And a summer program leads over 40 students each year on a six week tour of the Holy Land, Turkey, Greece and Italy. Hosted lectures and conferences are a regular part of the department’s life.

This legacy has been built by a number of faculty who have served the department’s goals faithfully across generations. Old Testament and New Testament scholars produced distinguished commentaries, student introductions and monographs. Theologians and historians published respected contributions that today are read internationally. Archaeologists have worked on sites in Israel and Egypt and have been at the forefront of scientific method. These scholars engaged in issues of their day that were both controversial and prophetic: the defense of historic orthodoxy, the role of women in church leadership, the importance of justice (racial, political, economic) in many contemporary issues, and the reclamation of ancient forms of worship and liturgy. These voices at Wheaton have contributed richly to where the evangelical church is going today.

The following faculty served the Department of Biblical & Theological Studies for ten years or more. Our efforts today are built on their contributions. We are grateful for their excellence in service and scholarship.

Edith C. Torrey 1919-1958

Alice K. Spaulding 1926-1952

Henry C. Thiessen 1934-1946

Joseph P. Free 1935-1965

Merrill C. Tenney 1941-1977

Kenneth S. Kantzer 1945-1963

Carl R. Ludwigson 1945-1969

E. Myers Harrison 1946-1964

Carl Armerding 1948-1962

John E. Luchies 1949-1962

Steven Barabas 1949-1974

Samuel J. Schultz 1949-1980

A. Berkeley Michelsen 1950-1965

Kenneth C. Kennard 1954-1966

Evan D. Welsh 1955-1971

J. Barton Payne 1958-1972

Morris A. Inch 1962-1986

G. Henry Waterman 1966-1977

Charles M. Horne 1966-1979

Gilbert G. Bilezikian 1966-1968; 1974-1992

Herb M. Wolf 1967-2002

Herbert K. Jacobsen 1967-1988

Alfred J. Hoerth 1968-1997

Robert E. Webber 1968-2000

Alan F. Johnson 1969-2000

Donald M. Lake 1970-2000

Hassell C. Bullock 1973-2009

Walter A. Elwell 1975-2004

Norman R. Ericson 1977-2000

James Julius Scott 1977-2000

Mark Noll, 1979-2006

John McRay 1980-2002

James K. Hoffmeier 1981-2000

Timothy Phillips 1982-2000

Philip Comfort 1986-1996

Dennis Okholm 1989-2003

Christopher Mitchell 1993-2013

John M. Monson 1997-2008

Karen Jobes 2005-2015

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