Garrett-Evangelical News

Theological, Historical, and Ethical Studies

Admissions Requirements ⁄ Admissions Procedures ⁄ Admissions Application

The PhD in Theological, Historical, and Ethical Studies primarily prepares persons for teaching in theological seminaries and undergraduate church-related colleges, as well as for denominational leadership as appropriate. This Concentration is based on an integration of theology, history, and ethics, while allowing a student to have a major area of focus within these three. The Concentration presupposes that these disciplines cannot ultimately be separated from each other in Christian understanding.

  • Theology focus: Study of selected classical and contemporary theological constructions, with attention to grounding this work in the broad stream of Christian tradition. It is articulated in idioms which emerge from biblical and Reformation trajectories that take seriously the issues raised in the modern era. A significant dimension of this engagement is the awareness of how it contributes to moral deliberation, discourse and ethical praxis.
  • History focus: Study of a major historical period, such as the Reformation in 16th century Germany or the rise of the Wesleyan movement in 18th century England; or a period of American Christian history which would include social context, theological history, and key social issues.
  • Ethics focus: Study of fundamental theological ethics or Christian social and political thought; study of a specific issue such as gender, race and class relations, war and peace, technology and culture, with attention devoted to related contextual, historical, and theological issues and topics.

Program Goals

A. Knowing

  1. To gain a knowledge and mastery of pertinent literature in the respective fields.
  2. To learn the theories and methods of research and develop the critical thinking that prepares one to make contributions to scholarship promoting the work of the academy and the church.

B. Doing

  1. To learn how to teach the pertinent literature within a variety of institutional settings.
  2. To show effectiveness as a critical and creative producer of theological, ethical, and/or historical knowledge

C. Being

  1. To become scholars grounded in the faith traditions of the church and committed to serving the mission and goals of the church through the contribution of their scholarship and the theological insights that it affords.
  2. To become competent practitioners of theology in the public square.

Requirements: 40 semester hours

  • 7 semester hours of core courses required for all PhD students
    Biblical and Theological Hermeneutics (3 semester hours)
    Teaching Seminar (2 semester hours)
    Research Seminar (2 semester hours)
  • 18-24 semester hours to support the student's research interests in his or her chosen discipline, though students are expected to take courses in each of the Concentration's three cognate disciplines of Theology, History, and Ethics.
  • 9-12 semester hours in a cognate Concentration or field of study in the theological curriculum.
  • 2 research tools: one in a language for academic research and a second research language or pertinent research methodology. A social science tool, such as ethnography, may require satisfactory completion of two graduate-level courses.
  • 4 written qualifying examinations and an oral examination, typically covering the following areas:
    (1) Overview of the selected discipline of study
    (2) Cognate discipline (e.g., church history, ethics, biblical studies, or theology)
    (3) Focused area of research
    (4) Subject determined in consultation with advisor
  • Dissertation prospectus, to be discussed and approved at the time of the oral examination, or within three months following the satisfactory completion of oral exam, as negotiated with advisor.
  • Dissertation

Select courses in this Concentration at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary:

• Readings in 20th Century Theologies
• Contemporary Christologies
• Contemporary Theologians (example: J. Moltmann and J. Sobrino)
• Feminist/Womanist Theologies
• Global Feminist Theologies and Biblical Interpretation
• Latino/Latina theologies in North America
• Latin American Theologies (in Spanish)
• Theology in Migration
• Postcolonial Theories and Theologies
• Queering Theory and Theology
• Reading Scripture as Theologians
• Theologies of Howard Thurman and Martin Luther King, Jr.
• Sin, Evil and Travail in Christian Theology
• Theology of John Wesley
• Theology of Kierkegaard, Barth and Bonhoeffer
• Wesleyan and Methodist Theology and Spirituality
• Reformed Theology
• Theological Dialogue with Living Religions
• Topics in the History of Christian Thought
• African American Religious History
• Religion and the American Way
• The Tasks of History
• Christian Social and Political Thought: Topics
• War and Peace
• City of God
• Moral Theology: Topics (examples of recent topics: The works of Hannah Arendt and Simone Weil, Christology and Ethics, Selected Themes in Christian social and political thought, Globalization and Christian Ethics, Technology, freedom, and justice: The works of George Grant and Albert Borgmann)


Nancy Bedford, Georgia Harkness Professor of Applied Theology

Barry Bryant, Associate Professor of Wesleyan and United Methodist Studies

Anne Joh, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology

Larry Murphy, Professor of the History of Christianity

Stephen Ray, Neal F. and Ila A. Fisher Professor of Systematic Theology

Kenneth Vaux, Professor of Theological Ethics

Brent Waters, Stead Professor of Christian Social Ethics

Select Publications by Program Faculty:

Nancy Bedford. La porfía de la resurrección. Ensayos desde el feminismo teológico latinoamericano. Colección FTL número 30. Buenos Aires: Kairós/Red del Camino, forthcoming

Nancy Bedford. "We Wait for Hope". Meg Cox (ed.). Cynicism and Hope. Reclaiming Discipleship in a Post-Democratic Society. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, forthcoming

Nancy Bedford and Guillermo Hansen. Nuestra Fe. Buenos Aires: I. U. ISEDET, 2008

Nancy Bedford. "Plantar huertas, escuchar a los árboles. Hacia una construcción de la subjetividad teológica feminista en migración": Stromata 64 (2008) 95-110

Nancy Bedford. "Making Spaces: Latin American and Latina Feminist Theologies on the Cusp of Interculturality": María Pilar Aquino; Maria José Rosado Nunes (eds.), Feminist Intercultural Theology. Latina Approaches for a Just World. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2007, 49-69

Barry Bryant. "The Israeli-Palestinian Situation: Theological Explorations" and "Reflections of a Recovered Christian Zionist" Quarterly Review, Spring 2005

Barry Bryant. Presidential address, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: Conflict of Values?" Wesley Philosophical Society, March 2004

Barry Bryant. "Class Leaders, Pastoral Care, and Christian Formation," in Discipleship Quarterly 18 (2003) 3:6-7

Barry Bryant, "Trinity, Technology, and the Meaning of Personhood," in Memphis Theological Seminary Journal, 38(2002)1:5-17

Larry Murphy. "Piety and Liberation: An Historical Exploration of African American Religion and Social Justice," in Iva E. Carruthers,, eds., Blow the Trumpet in Zion: Global Vision and Action for the 21st-Century Black Church. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005

Larry Murphy. African-American Faith in America. New York: Facts on File. 2003

Larry Murphy. "W.E.B. DuBois and the Souls of Black Folk: A Commentary," in: AME Church Review, Vol.CXIX, April-June, 2003

Larry Murphy, ed., Down by the Riverside: Readings in African American Religion. New York: NYU Press, 2000

Stephen Ray, co-author. Black Church Studies: An Introduction. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2007

Stephen Ray. "E-racing the Faith While Black. In: Being Black, Teaching Black: The Role of Black Church Studies in the Academy, N. Lynne Westfield ed. Nashville: Abingdon Press 2008

Stephen Ray. "The End of Man: Human Rights, Christian Theology and The Rights of Human Persons," in Human Rights: Christian Influences and Issues, Frances Adeney and Arvind Sharma, eds. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2007

Stephen Ray, contributor. Constructive Theology: A Contemporary Approach to Classical Themes, Serene Jones and Paul Lakeland, eds. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004

Stephen Ray. Do No Harm: Social Sin and Christian Responsibility. Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2002

Kenneth Vaux. Jew, Christian, Muslim: Faithful Unification or Fateful Trifurcation? Word, Way, Worship and War in the Abrahamic Faiths. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2003

Kenneth Vaux. Ethics and the War on Terrorism (2002)

Kenneth Vaux. "Akedah as Deep Metaphor for Bioethics," in Christian Bioethics, Spring 1999

Kenneth Vaux and Sara Vaux. Dying Well. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996

Brent Waters. This Mortal Flesh: Incarnation and Bioethics. Grand Rapids: Brazos, forthcoming

Brent Waters and F. LeRon Shults, eds., Christology and Ethics. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, forthcoming

Brent Waters. "Disability and the Quest for Perfection: A Moral and Theological Inquiry," in Theology, Disability and the New Genetics: Why Science Needs the Church, John Swinton and Brian Brock, eds., T & T Clark, 200.

Brent Waters. The Family in Christian Social and Political Thought. (Oxford University Press, 2007

Brent Waters. "Saving Us from Ourselves: Christology, Anthropology and the Seduction of Posthuman Medicine," in Future Perfect: God, Medicine and Human Dignity, Celia Deane-Drummond and Peter Manley Scott, eds. London and New York: T&T Clark, 2006

Brent Waters. From Human to Posthuman: Christian Theology and Technology in a Postmodern World. Ashgate, 2006

Recent Book Publications of Program Graduates

Lewis V. Baldwin, Between Cross and Crescent: Christian and Muslim Perspectives on Malcolm and Martin, 2002

Joanne Carlson Brown and Carole R. Bohn, Christianity, Patriarchy, and Abuse, 1989

James H. Cone, The Risks of Faith: The Emergence of a Black Theology of Liberation, 1968-1998, 2000

Reta Halteman Finger, et. al., The Wisdom of Daughters: Two Decades of the Voice of Christian Feminism, 2004

David E. Fitch, The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism, and Other Modern Maladies, 2005

Mary Garman, Hidden in Plain Sight: Quaker Women's Writings, 1650 - 1700, 1995

Stephanie Mitchem, Introducing Womanist Theology, 2002

Michael L Stine, Losing the world but Finding the Harbor: a Spiritual Biography of Gustav Mahler, 1992

Emilie Townes, Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil, 2006


UMC Logo Garrett-Evangelical, a seminary related to
The United Methodist Church, welcomes
students from a wide range of faith traditions.