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Joseph A. Bessler, PhD

  • Robert Travis Peake Professor of Theology
  • Associate Dean for Faculty Development & Assessment


  • Religion & Politics
  • Theology & Leadership
  • How to do Theology
  • Church & State


  • BS, Northwestern University, 1979
  • MA, Harvard University, 1984
  • PhD, University of Chicago, 1996

Key Facts

  • Joined Phillips in 1992
  • Coordinator for DMin track Pastoral Leadership in Church & Society: Collaborating for Change
  • Contributed to projects sponsored by the Westar Institute
  • Participant in the Lexington Seminar Mentoring Project 2006-2008
  • Keynote presenter at the Common Dreams Conference in Sydney, Australia in 2009
  • Keynote presenter at ATS Workshop for Mid-Career Faculty, 2009 and 2011
  • Member of the American Academy of Religion and the Association of Disciples for Theological Discussion

Recent Publications

  • A Scandalous Jesus: How Three Historic Quests Changed Theology for the Better (Polebridge, 2013)
  • Law and Theology: Cases and Readings, co-edited with Martin Belsky (Carolina Academic Press, 2005)
  • “Does Constructive Theology Matter? What Political Candidates Can Teach Seminary Students About Theology and Pastoral Leadership, in A Passion for Christian Unity, edited by John Imbler (Chalice Press, 2009) 
  • “Seminaries as Endangered Habitats in a Fragile Ecosystem,” in Revitalizing Practice: Collaborative Models for Theological Faculties edited by Malcolm Warford (Peter Lang, 2008)
  • "Theological Leadership: A Rhetorical Defense of Constructive Theology“ (ADTD presentation, 2008)
  • “Langdon Talking: A Conversation with Langdon Gilkey about the Writing of Shantung Compound” (American Journal of Theology and Philosophy January 2007)
  • “Facing Up to Hard Questions: Christian Faith for a New Age,” in The Future of the Christian Tradition, edited by Robert J. Miller (Polebridge, 2007) 

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