Anna M. Johnson

Associate Professor of Reformation Church History


  • B.A., St. Olaf College
  • M.Div., Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary

A Living, Breathing, On-the-Ground Phenomenon

The historical study of Christianity offers us the chance to enter into the past as observers of another religious culture. When we see things that we recognize, we begin to understand why things are as they are, and we can better evaluate our own roots. When we see things that are different, we have the opportunity to examine that culture on its own terms. Why do people believe what they believe? Why do they do what they do? Why are their circumstances and mindsets so different from ours? Despite the differences of time, place and mentality, to what aspects of that culture can we relate?

In my courses, I want students to appreciate the past as something that is both distant from us and always with us. I want them to experience historical Christianity as a living, breathing, on-the-ground phenomenon. I want them to interpret historical contexts and empathize with historical figures, just as they will interpret the particular contexts of their ministries and empathize with the unique people they serve.