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Christopher Elwood

Professor of Historical Theology

Davidson College, AB; The Divinity School, Harvard University, MDiv, ThD

Christopher Elwood is a historian of Christianity, with particular expertise in the early modern period and broad interest in other periods, who thinks of himself as a historical theologian.

Teaching courses in theology and the history of Christianity, with a concentration on the period from the Reformation to the present, Elwood maintains research and writing interests in the history and theology of the Reformation period, the theology of John Calvin, theological interpretations of the body, gender and sexuality, and the intersections of theology and culture.

As the child of a diplomat, Elwood grew up in many places, including Brazil and Trinidad. He spent two years following his undergraduate studies serving as the headmaster of Shiveye Secondary School in western Kenya. He was the pastor of two Congregational churches in Massachusetts and is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He joined the Louisville Seminary faculty in 1996, having taught previously at Harvard Divinity School and Davidson College. He is active in his local congregation and is a member of several organizations including the American Academy of Religion, the American Society of Church History, the American Historical Association, and the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference.

Elwood is author of The Body Broken: The Calvinist Doctrine of the Eucharist and the Symbolization of Power in Sixteenth-Century France (Oxford University Press, 1999) and Calvin for Armchair Theologians (Westminster John Knox, 2002), which has been translated and published in German and French. He is currently working on a study of understandings of embodiment, sexuality, and death that emerged from Christian cultures of the Reformation era.

“I think it is important that members of our churches become aware of the connections between what they believe and the social and political commitments they hold. This concern influences my efforts to encourage seminary students to see the way theological ideas ‘live’ in particular historical environments and how this has application to our own reflection on the beliefs we hold and the way we express them theologically.” -Christopher Elwood
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