Princeton Theological Seminary

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Princeton Theological Seminary
Established 1812
Type Private
Affiliation Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
President M. Craig Barnes
Location Princeton, New Jersey, United States
Campus Suburban, 23 acres (93,000 m²)
Website Princeton Theological Seminary

Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) is a seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, and the largest of ten seminaries associated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). It is the second-oldest seminary in the United States, founded in 1812 under the auspices of Reverend Dr. Archibald Alexander, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).[1][2]

Princeton Seminary has long been influential in theological scholarship, with leading and preeminent biblical scholars and theologians among its faculty and alumni. Its library's collections are well known, in particular, the Karl Barth Research Collection in the Center for Barth Studies.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Princeton Theological Seminary received widespread attention for its defense of Calvinistic Presbyterianism, a tradition that became known as Princeton Theology and greatly influenced Evangelicalism during the period. In response to the increasing influence of theological liberalism in the 1920s and the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy at the institution, several theologians left to form the Westminster Theological Seminary under the leadership of J. Gresham Machen.

Today, the Seminary enrolls 500 students, around 40% of whom are candidates for ministry in the Presbyterian Church. Remaining students are either candidates for ministry in other denominations or pursuing careers in academia or non-theological fields.[3][4] Seminarians hold academic reciprocity with Princeton University as well as the Westminster Choir College of Rider University, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, Jewish Theological Seminary, and the School of Social Work at Rutgers University. The institution also has an ongoing relationship with the Center of Theological Inquiry.[5] In 2012, M. Craig Barnes, former pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was elected as its new president.


Princeton Seminary in the 1800s

The plan to establish a theological seminary in Princeton was in the interests of advancing and extending the theological curriculum. The educational intention was to go beyond the liberal arts course by setting up a postgraduate, professional school in theology. The plan met with enthusiastic approval on the part of authorities at the College of New Jersey, later to become Princeton University, for they were coming to see that specialized training in theology required more attention than they could give. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church established The Theological Seminary at Princeton, New Jersey in 1812, with the support of the directors of the nearby College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), as the second graduate theological school in the United States. The Seminary remains an institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), being the largest of the ten theological seminaries affiliated with the 1.6-million-member denomination.[1][6]

In 1812, the Seminary boasted three students and the Reverend Dr. Archibald Alexander as its first professor. By 1815 the number of students had gradually increased and work began on a building: Alexander Hall was designed by John McComb, Jr., a New York architect, and opened in 1817. The original cupola was added in 1827, but it burned in 1913 and was replaced in 1926. The building was simply called "Seminary" until 1893, when it was officially named Alexander Hall. Since its founding, Princeton Seminary has graduated approximately 14,000 men and women who have served the church in many capacities, from pastoral ministry and pastoral care to missionary work, Christian education and leadership in the academy and business.

The seminary was made famous during the 19th and early 20th centuries for its defense of Calvinistic Presbyterianism, particularly by men such as Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, and Geerhardus Vos. The college was later the center of the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy of the 1920s and 1930s.[7] In 1929, the seminary was reorganized along modernist lines, and in response, Machen, along with three of his colleagues: Oswald T. Allis, Robert Dick Wilson and Cornelius Van Til, resigned, with Machen, Allis and Wilson founding Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, Pennsylvania. In 1958, Princeton became a seminary of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., following a merger between the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the United Presbyterian Church of North America, and in 1983, it would become a seminary of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) after the merger between the UPCUSA and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.


Degree programs


The Seminary's libraries comprise the largest theological collection in the United States and second in the world, behind only the Vatican Library in Rome. The library has over 1,252,503 bound volumes, pamphlets, and microfilms.[8] It currently receives about 2,100 journals, annual reports of church bodies and learned societies, bulletins, transactions, and periodically issued indices, abstracts, and bibliographies. The Libraries are:

  • Princeton Theological Seminary Library ("The New Library") was opened in 2013 and holds the bulk of the seminary's collection. The library is also home to the Center for Barth Studies,[9] the Reigner Reading Room,[10] and special collections including the Abraham Kuyper collection of Dutch Reformed Protestantism and personal libraries of theologians like Dr. Ashbel Green, Dr. William Buell Sprague, Prof. Joseph Addison Alexander, Dr. Alexander Balloch Grosart, Prof. William Henry Green, Prof. Samuel Miller, and Prof. B. B. Warfield.[11]
  • Speer Library, opened in 1957 and named in honor of the renowned missionary statesman Robert E. Speer. It was closed in late 2010 and was replaced by the new library.
  • Henry Luce III Library, dedicated in 1994 and named in honor of a distinguished trustee, Henry Luce III, 350,000 volumes and 250 readers. This library was closed for renovation in 2013 and is slated to reopen in Fall 2014.


In 2015, the U.S. News & World Report placed Princeton Seminary among the top 50 graduate programs for the field of history in the United States.[12]

Student life

Miller Chapel

Miller Chapel

Built in 1834, Princeton's chapel was named to honor Samuel Miller, the second professor at the Seminary. It was designed in the Greek Revival style by Charles Steadman, who also designed the nearby Nassau Presbyterian Church. Originally located beside Alexander Hall, it was moved in 1933 toward the center of the campus, its steps now leading down onto the Seminary's main quad. Miller Chapel underwent a complete renovation in 2000, with the addition of the Joe R. Engle Organ.[13]

Navigating the Waters

In 2011, Princeton Theological Seminary's Office of Multicultural Relations and The Kaleidoscope Institute worked together to initiate an effort known as "Navigating the Waters," a program designed to promote cultural proficiency and diversity competency in faculty, staff, and students.[14]


Center for Barth Studies

The Center for Barth Studies was established at Princeton Seminary in 1997 and is administered by a board of seminary faculty. The Center sponsors conferences, research opportunities, discussion groups, and publications that seek to advance understanding of the theology of Karl Barth (1886–1968), the Swiss-German professor and pastor widely regarded as the greatest theologian of the 20th century. The Karl Barth Research Collection, part of Special Collections in the Princeton Theological Seminary Libraries, supports the scholarly activities of the Center for Barth Studies. The Karl Barth Research Collection is acquiring an exhaustive collection of writings by and about Karl Barth. Although many volumes are still needed, the Research Collection has already acquired Barth's most important works in German and English, several first editions, and an original hand-written manuscript by Karl Barth.[15]

Abraham Kuyper Center for Public Theology

The heart of the Abraham Kuyper Center for Public Theology is the Abraham Kuyper Collection of Dutch Reformed Protestantism in the library's Special Collections, which focuses on the theology and history of Dutch Reformed Protestantism since the nineteenth century and features a sizable assemblage of primary and secondary sources by and about Abraham Kuyper. The Center maintains in partnership with the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam an online database of secondary literature about Abraham Kuyper.

The Center has also established an annual event organized to award the Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life, during which the recipient delivers an address. The Abraham Kuyper Consultation, a series of further lectures, takes place on the following day.

Center of Theological Inquiry

In 1978 Princeton Theological Seminary's Board of Trustees established the Center as an independent, ecumenical institution for advanced theological research, "to inquire into the relationship between theological disciplines, [and of these with] ... both human and natural sciences, to inquire into the relationship between diverse religious traditions ... , to inquire into the present state of religious consciousness in the modern world, and to examine such other facets of religion in the modern world as may be appropriate ..." Today, the Center has its own board, funding, mission and staff, yet maintains close relations with Princeton Theological Seminary. Present director is William Storrar and director of research is Robin Lovin.


Theology Today Founded in 1944 at Princeton Theological Seminary, Theology Today is a peer-reviewed, quarterly journal of Christian theology.

Koinonia Journal is published annually by doctoral students at Princeton Theological Seminary. The publication and its annual forum promote written and face-to-face interdisciplinary discussion around issues in theology and the study of religion. It is distributed to well over 100 libraries worldwide.

Princeton Theological Review is a student run, annual and online journal that exists to serve students within the Princeton Theological Seminary body as well as the wider theological community. It is distributed to well over 100 libraries worldwide.

Endowed lectureships

  • Abraham Kuyper Lecture and Prize, held in April.
  • The Alexander Thompson Lecture, held in February.
  • The Frederick Neumann Memorial Lecture, held in November.
  • Dr. Geddes W. Hanson Lecture, held in October.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture, held in March.
  • The Princeton Lectures on Youth, Church, and Culture, held in April.
  • The Stone Lectures, held in October. Brings an internationally distinguished scholar to the seminary each year to deliver a series of public lectures. Created in 1871 by Levi P. Stone of Orange, New Jersey, a director and also a trustee of the seminary. Previous lecturers include Abraham Kuyper (1898) and Nicholas Wolterstorff.
  • Students' Lectureship on Missions, held in October.
  • The Warfield Lectures, held in October, are an annual series of lectures which honor the memory of Annie Kinkead Warfield, wife of Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, distinguished professor of theology at the seminary from 1887 to 1921. Previous distinguished lecturers include Karl Barth (1962), John Howard Yoder (1980), T. F. Torrance (1981), and Colin Gunton (1993).
  • Women in Church and Ministry Lecture, held in February.

Frederick Buechner Prize

Acclaimed writer and theologian Frederick Buechner has long standing ties to Princeton Theological Seminary and the seminary has honored him with the creation of the Buechner Prize for Writing. Princeton will be sponsoring and hosting the Buechner Writing Workshop in June 2015. Also, Princeton Theological Seminary has given copies of Buechner's Telling the Truth to students as part of their graduation.

Princeton Theological Seminary people

Principals and Presidents of Princeton Theological Seminary

Prior to the creation of the office of President in 1902, the seminary was governed by the principal.

The Principals
The Presidents

Notable faculty (past & present)

Notable alumni


  1. 1.0 1.1 "History of the Seminary". Official Website. Princeton Theological Seminary.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Dear Mr. Mudd: Princeton Theological Seminary". Mudd Manuscript Library Blog. Princeton University.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. ATS - Member Schools
  4. "PTS Statistics". Official Website. Princeton Theological Seminary.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Untitled Page". Official Website. Princeton Theological Seminary.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Summaries of Statistics – Comparative Summaries" (PDF). PC(USA). 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Steward, Gary (2014). Princeton Seminary (1812-1929): Its Leaders' Lives and Works. Phillipsburg NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed. ISBN 9781596383975.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Princeton Seminary Library
  9. Karl Barth>Center for Barth Studies
  10. Reigner Christian Education Resource Collection
  11. Princeton Theological Seminary Library
  12. "Overview of Princeton Theological Seminary". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved July 26, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "About PTS". Official Website. Princeton Theological Seminary.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Navigating the Waters". Official Website. Princeton Theological Seminary.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Princeton Theological Seminary Library. Retrieved on 2013-09-04.
  16. Rodgers, Ann (9 October 2012). "Shadyside Presbyterian Church pastor Barnes named president of Princeton seminary". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Meet Dave". Dave Brat: Republican for Congress.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • David B. Calhoun, History of Princeton Seminary. In Two Volumes. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1996.
  • James Moorhead, Princeton Seminary in American Religion and Culture. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012.
  • Richard Osmer and Gordon Mikoski, With Piety and Learning: The History of Practical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary 1812-2012. Lit Verlag, 2012.

External links

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