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Christine Helmer


Ph.D., Yale University

For details on the conference, “Luther’s Anti-Jewish Interpretation of the Bible,” at Boston College (March 24-26, 2018) please see website

Christine Helmer (Ph.D. Yale) is Professor of German at Northwestern University, with a courtesy appointment in the Department of Religious Studies. She is the current holder of the Arthur E. Andersen Teaching and Research Professorship. In 2017 she was awarded an honorary doctorate in theology from the University of Helsinki for her work on German reformer Martin Luther, as well as for her commitment to theology as an important contributor to the intellectual life of the university. During the academic year 2017-2018, she is Visiting Corcoran Chair in the Center for Christian-Jewish Relations at Boston College, researching Luther’s anti-Judaism in his biblical interpretation.

Professor Helmer’s area of research and teaching specialization is Christian theology from historical, systematic, and constructive perspectives. Her work is focused on German intellectual history with primary interest in the theology of Martin Luther, the philosophy and theology of Friedrich Schleiermacher, and the flourishing of scholarship on Luther and on religion in early twentieth-century Germany, known as the Luther Renaissance. She is also interested in ways in which theologians can make knowledge claims about God; in theology’s conversation with the modern study of religion; and in how the theological perspective contributes to the humanities. Another area of her research and publication activity is biblical reception, and as main editor for the Christianity section of the Encyclopedia of Bible and its Reception (de Gruyter), she promotes conversation about this emerging discipline.

Professor Helmer has a longstanding interest in Christian doctrine. Her recent book, Theology and the End of Doctrine (Westminster John Knox Press 2014) offers a historical analysis of theology’s preoccupation with doctrine over the last century, of the disrepute into which doctrine subsequently fell, and a constructive proposal for renewing doctrinal production as a creative enterprise. Her first monograph, The Trinity and Martin Luther, reprinted as a second edition in 2017 (Lexham Press), concerns the doctrine of the Trinity and Luther’s use of philosophy to articulate Christian theology. Dr. Helmer is the author of many articles as well as contributing editor (and co-editor) of numerous volumes in biblical theology, philosophy of religion, Schleiermacher studies, and Luther studies. Her collaborative work over the past years has focused on the reception of Luther’s thought in the modern world, represented in the recently published co-edited volume, Lutherrenaissance: Past and Present (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2015) and in a forthcoming co-edited volume (with Bruce McCormack and Heinrich Assel) on Luther in Weimar. She has recently founded a group called “Lutheran Scholars of Religion” that aims to articulate theologies addressing urgent cultural, religious, climatological, and political challenges.

Professor Helmer’s research has been supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Humboldt Foundation. During 2012-2013 she was the Marie Curie EURIAS (European Institutes of Advanced Study) Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies in Helsinki, Finland. During 2014-2105, she was a Research Fellow in the Philosophy and Theology of Humility Project, based at Saint Louis University.

Professor Helmer is Associate Chair of Willard Hall. She teaches undergraduate courses on key religious thinkers in western thought, religion and sports, and the popular “Why College?” class. Her course “Luther and the West” is available as a free massive open online course (MOOC) at Students interested in applying for graduate work with Dr. Helmer should do so through the Department of German.

Photo credit: Veikko Somerpuro

Selected Works


The Trinity and Martin Luther. Lexham Press, 2017

Theology and the End of Doctrine. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014

The Trinity and Martin Luther: A Study on the Relationship between Genre, Language and the Trinity in Luther’s Works (1523-1546). Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Europäische Geschichte/Abteilung Abendländische Religionsgeschichte 174. Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 1999.

Edited Volumes

Lutherrenaissance: Past and Present. Edited by Christine Helmer and Bo Kristian Holm. Forschungen zur Kirchen- and Dogmengeschichte 106. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015.

LUTERO: Um teologo para tempos modernos. Edited by Christine Helmer. Translated by Geraldo Korndörfe. São Leopoldo: Sinodal, 2013.

The Global Luther: A Theologian for Modern Times. Edited by Christine Helmer. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009.

Transformations in Luther's Theology: Historical and Contemporary Reflections. Edited by Christine Helmer and Bo Kristian Holm. Arbeiten zur Kirchen- und Theologiegeschichte 32. Leipzig: EVA-Leipzig, 2011.

The Multivalence of Biblical Texts and Theological Meanings. Edited by Christine Helmer with Charlene T. Higbe. Symposium Series 37. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2006.

Biblical Interpretation: History, Context, and Reality. Edited by Christine Helmer with Taylor G. Petrey. Symposium Series 26. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2005.

Schleiermacher and Whitehead: Open Systems in Dialogue. Edited by Christine Helmer, in Cooperation with Marjorie Suchocki, John Quiring, and Katie Goetz. Theologische Bibliothek Töpelmann 125. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2004.

One Scripture or Many? Canon from Biblical, Theological, and Philosophical Perspectives. Edited by Christine Helmer and Christof Landmesser. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Truth: Interdisciplinary Dialogues in a Pluralist Age. Edited by Christine Helmer and Kristin De Troyer, with Katie Goetz. Studies in Philosophical Theology 22. Leuven: Peeters, 2003.

Schleiermachers Dialektik: Die Liebe zum Wissen in Philosophie und Theologie. Edited by Christine Helmer, Christiane Kranich, and Birgit Rehme-Iffert. Religion in Philosophy and Theology 6. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

Biblischer Text und theologische Theoriebildung. Edited by Christine Helmer, Stephen Chapman, and Christof Landmesser. Biblisch-theologische Studien 44. Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 2001.

Interviews, Web Audio/Video

Podcast: “Luther and the West,” with Tripp Fuller, posted by Homebrewed Christianity, Feb. 2, 2017.

Conference video: “What is Distinctive about the Fifth Centenary of the Protestant Reformation?,” at Georgetown University, Sept. 15, 2017.

Podcast: “Luther in America,” at the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, Boston College, Oct. 5, 2017.

Conference video: “Luther, the Age of the Individual: 500 Years Ago Today,” at Columbia University’s Center on Capitalism and Society, Oct. 31, 2017.

Blogpost: “Martin Luther and the History of Human Rights,” Pozen Family Center for Human Rights at The University of Chicago, Oct. 30, 2017.

Blogpost: “The Protestant Reformation and Human Rights,” The Immanent Frame, Nov. 8, 2017.

Podcast: "Conversation about Theology and the End of Doctrine," with Tripp Fuller, posted by Homebrewed Christianity, Oct. 9, 2014.

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