W. Clark Gilpin

Margaret E. Burton Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Christianity and Theology in the Divinity School; also in the College


MDiv (Lexington Theological Seminary)
MA, PhD (University of Chicago)

Clark Gilpin is a historian of Christianity who studies the cultural history of theology in England and America since the seventeenth century. He has published an intellectual biography of Roger Williams, the seventeenth-century advocate of religious liberty. A more recent book, A Preface to Theology, examines the history of American theological scholarship in terms of the theologian's responsibilities to a three-fold public in the churches, the academic community, and civil society. Much of his research focuses on the cultural history of theology, especially its relation to literature. One recent project analyzed the letter from prison as a genre of religious literature in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Another explores ways in which the religious discipline of solitary writing-autobiographic narratives, journals, and letters-shaped the careers of major New England intellectuals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. With Catherine Brekus, he is currently editing a book entitled American Christianities, in which two dozen historians investigate both the diversity of Christianity in the United States and the varied and often surprising ways Christianity has influenced American society.