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Princeton Theological Seminary

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Type  Private
Students  518
Doctoral students  89
Total enrollment  660 (2007)
Founder  Archibald Alexander
Established  1812
Postgraduates  429
President  M. Craig Barnes
Phone  +1 609-921-8300
Founded  1812
Affiliation  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Address  64 Mercer St, Princeton, NJ 08542, USA
Notable alumni  B B Warfield, Charles Hodge, John Gresham Machen, Geerhardus Vos, Cornelius Van Til
Similar  Westminster Theological Seminary, Princeton University, Fuller Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, Columbia Theological Seminary

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Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) is an independent school of theology, or divinity, 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).


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.

Today, the seminary enrolls approximately 500 students. While around 40% of them are candidates for ministry in the Presbyterian Church, the majority are either candidates for ministry in other denominations or pursuing careers in academia or non-theological fields. 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.

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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.

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, a tradition that became known as Princeton Theology and greatly influenced Evangelicalism during the period. Some of the institution's figures active in this movement included Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, and Geerhardus Vos. 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.

The college was later the center of the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy of the 1920s and 1930s. 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

  • Master of Divinity (M.Div.)
  • Masters of Arts (M.A.)
  • Master of Arts in Theological Studies (M.A.T.S.)
  • Master of Theology (Th.M.)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
  • Dual M.Div./M.A. in Christian Education with foci in Youth & Young Adults, Teaching Ministry, or Spiritual Development
  • Libraries

    The Princeton Seminary Library is a destination for visiting scholars from around the world. The library has over 1,252,503 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:

  • 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, the Reigner Reading Room, 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.
  • 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.
  • Rankings

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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 Germans Swiss 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 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.

    Seminary Lectureships

  • Abraham Kuyper Lecture and Prize, held in April.
  • The Alexander Thompson Lecture, held biannually in March.
  • The Frederick Neumann Memorial Lecture, held biannually in November.
  • Dr. Geddes W. Hanson Lecture, held biannually, fall semester.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture, held in February.
  • Dr. Sang Hyun Lee Lecture, held biannually, spring semester.
  • The Donald Macleod/Short Hills Community Congregational Church Preaching Lectureship,held biannually, fall semester.
  • Toyohiko Kagawa, Japanese Evangelist and Social Worker; Lecture held triennially spring semester.
  • Students' Lectureship on Missions, held biannually, fall semester.
  • The Princeton Lectures on Youth, Church, and Culture, held in April.
  • The Levi P. Stone Lectures, held biannually 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 Annie Kinkead Warfield Lectures, held biannually in March, are a 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.

    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
  • Archibald Alexander (1812–1850)
  • Charles Hodge (1851–1878)
  • Archibald Alexander Hodge (1878–1886)
  • B. B. Warfield (1887–1902)
  • The Presidents
  • Francis Landey Patton (1902–1913)
  • J. Ross Stevenson (1914–1936)
  • John A. Mackay (1936–1959)
  • James I. McCord (1959–1983)
  • Thomas W. Gillespie (1983–2004)
  • Iain R. Torrance (2004–2012)
  • M. Craig Barnes (2013–)
  • References

    Princeton Theological Seminary Wikipedia