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Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) is a theological seminary of the Presbyterian Church located in the Borough of Princeton, New Jerseymarker in the United Statesmarker. While Princeton Theological Seminary and Princeton Universitymarker are separate entities, there is reciprocity for use of certain facilities such as their libraries, student health clinic, as well as cross enrollment in classes.

PTS is one of the world's leading institutions for graduate theological education and home of the largest theological library in the United Statesmarker. Today it is an international community with a little over 700 students, a faculty of 53, and an ecumenical and worldwide constituency. Although the roots of Princeton Seminary are in Presbyterianism, not all the students are candidates for the ministry in the Presbyterian Church; some are candidates for ministry in other denominations, while others are studying toward careers in academia, and still others are pursuing fields less directly related to theology, such as law, medicine, social work, administration and education.

Like some other theological institutions, Princeton Theological Seminary has roots in a distinctive denominational heritage and was affiliated from the beginning with the Presbyterian Church.


The plan to establish a theological seminary in Princeton was in the interests of advancing and extending the theological curriculum. It was not, as has sometimes been intimated, a sectarian withdrawal from secular university life . 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 Universitymarker, 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 Universitymarker), 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 2.5-million member denomination.

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. The college was later the center of a Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy which ultimately led to the formation of Westminster Theological Seminary under the leadership of J. Gresham Machen.

Princeton Theology

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

Princeton Theological Seminary libraries

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 1,068,000 bound volumes, pamphlets, and microfilms. 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:
  • Speer Library, opened in 1957 and named in honor of the renowned missionary statesman Robert E. Speer, 400,000 volumes and 200 readers
  • Henry Luce III Library, dedicated in 1994 and named in honor of a distinguished trustee, Henry Luce III, 350,000 volumes and 250 readers

Degree programs

  • Master of Divinity (M.Div.)
  • Masters of Arts (M.A.)
  • Master of Arts (Theological Studies)
  • Master of Theology (Th.M.)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
  • Dual M.Div./M.A. in Christian Education or Youth Ministry
Miller Chapel

Miller Chapel

Built in 1834, Princeton's chapel was named to honor Samuel Miller, the second professor at the Seminary. 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.

Endowed lectureships

  • Abraham Kuyper Lecture and Prize, held in April. The 2010 lecturer and prize recipient will be Sir Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth.
  • The Alexander Thompson Lecture, held in February. The 2010 lecturer will be Dr. Hindy Najman, associate professor of ancient Judaism, Department and Centre for the Study of Religion, University of Torontomarker.
  • The Frederick Neumann Memorial Lecture, held in November. The 2009 lecturer will be Dr. Timothy B. Tyson, visiting professor of American Christianity and southern culture, Duke Divinity School, and senior research scholar, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke Universitymarker.
  • Dr. Geddes W. Hanson Lecture, held in October. In 2009 the speaker was The Reverend Dr. Brad R. Braxton, senior minister of the Riverside Churchmarker, New York, NY.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture, held in March. The 2010 lecturer will be Dr. J. Kameron Carter, associate professor in theology and black church studies, Duke Divinity School.
  • The Princeton Lectures on Youth, Church, and Culture, held in April. The 2010 speakers will be Shane Claiborne, founding member of the Simple Way faith community in Philadelphia, PA; Peter Gomes, Plummer professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, Harvard University; and Kenda Creasy Dean, associate professor of youth, church, and culture at PTS.
  • 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. In 2009 the speaker was Dr. William F. May, former head of the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, Southern Methodist University, and a founding fellow at the Hastings Center for Bioethics.
  • Students' Lectureship on Missions, held in October. The 2009 lecturer will be Scott W. Sunquist, W. Don McClure Associate Professor of World Mission and Evangelism at Pittsburgh Theological Seminarymarker.
  • 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). The 2009 lecturer will be Dr. Randall C. Zachman, associate professor of Reformation studies, University of Notre Damemarker.
  • Women in Church and Ministry Lecture, held in February. The 2010 lecturer will be The Reverend Dr. Jacqui Lewis, senior minister, Middle Collegiate Church, New York, NY.

Annual conferences

  • The Annual Kuyper Conference, held in April. In 2010 the theme will be "Common Grace and 'A Common Word': A Conference Devoted to Exploring the Resources of Neo-Calvinism for Interfaith Dialogue and Understanding"
  • The Annual Conference on Karl Barth, held in June. In 2010 the theme will be "Karl Barth and Missional Theology"

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.

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 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.


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.

Notable faculty

Notable alumni


  • Princeton Seminary, 2 volumes, by David B. Calhoun is the now standard history of the Seminary
  • John Updike's 1986 novel Roger's Version appears to be partly set in Princeton Seminary; his 1996 novel In the Beauty of the Lilies features the family is Clarence Wilmot, a Princeton-educated preacher schooled in the works of theologians Charles and A. A. Hodge and Benjamin Warfield.


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