Dillenberger JohnProfessor Emeritus of Historical Theology
Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California

d. 2008

John Dillenberger was Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He was instrumental in forming the Graduate Theological Union which he headed during its first decade, first as Dean from 1964-1969 and then, from 1967 to 1972, as its first president, a post to which he returned in 1999-2000. He also served as President of Hartford Seminary, Dean of the Faculty at San Francisco Theological Seminary, Chair of the Program in History and Philosophy at Harvard University, and as President of the American Academyof Religion. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, he was a Chaplain in the United States Navy during WWII. He is the author of many books, including Benjamin West, The Visual Arts and Christianity in America, and Images and Relics: Theological Perceptions and Visual Images in Sixteenth Century Europe.


  • From Fallow Fields to Hallowed Halls, 2004.
  • Images and Relics: Theological Perceptions and Visual Images in Sixteenth-Century Europe, 1999
  • The Visual Arts and Christianity in America, 1989
  • Protestant Christianity: Interpreted Through its Development (with Claude Welch), 1954, 1988
  • A Theology of Artistic Sensibilities: The Visual Arts and the Church, 1986
  • Perceptions of the Spirit in Twentieth Century Art (with Jane Dillenberger), 1977
  • Benjamin West: The Context of his Life's Work, 1977
  • John Calvin: Selections from his Writings, 1975
  • Contours of Faith: Changing Forms of Christian Thought, 1969
  • Martin Luther: Selections from his Writings, 1961
  • Protestant Thought and Natural Science: A Historical Interpretation, 1960
  • God Hidden and Revealed: The Interpretation of Luther's Deus Absconditus and its Significance for Religious Thought, 1953

Academic Credentials

  • B.A., Elmhurst College, 1940
  • B.D., Union Theological Seminary, New York, 1943
  • Ph.D., Columbia University, 1948

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Historical Theology, Graduate Theological Union, 1963-1978
  • Professor of Historical Theology, San Francisco Theological Seminary, 1962-1964
  • Ellen S. James Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Drew University, 1958-1972
  • Parkman Professor of Theology, Harvard Divinity School, 1957-1958
  • Associate Professor of Theology, Harvard Divinity School, 1954-1957
  • Associate Professor of Religion, Columbia University, 1952-1954
  • Assistant Professor of Religion, Columbia University, 1949-1952
  • Instructor, Department of Religion, Princeton University, 1948-1949

Professional Service

  • Chair, Board of Directors, Westar Institute
  • Founder and Board Member, Center for the Arts, Religion and Education
  • Board Member, Interfaith Forum for Religion, Art and Architecture
  • President, Graduate Theological Union, 1999-2000
  • Acting Librarian, Graduate Theological Union, 1997-1999.
  • President, American Academy of Religion, 1987
  • President-Elect, American Academy of Religion, 1986
  • Vice-President, American Academy of Religion, 1985
  • President, Hartford Seminary, 1978-1983
  • Research Scholar, National Museum of Art, Smithsonian, 1973-1975
  • Member, Executive Committee, Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, 1970-1974
  • Chair, Editorial Board, A Library of Protestant Thought, 1958-1972
  • President, Graduate Theological Union, 1967-1972
  • Dean, Graduate Theological Union, 1964-1969
  • Dean of Graduate Students, San Francisco Theological Seminary, 1962-1964
  • Dean of Faculty, San Francisco Theological Seminary, 1962-1964
  • Chair, Program in the History and Philosophy of Religion, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, 1955-1958
  • Chair, M.A. Program in Religion, Graduate Faculties, Columbia University, 1951-1954

Professional Associations

  • Fellow, Westar Institute
  • Member, American Academy of Religion
  • Member, American Theological Society
  • Fellow, Society for Values in Higher Education
  • Fellow, Society for the Arts, Religion and Contemporary Culture

Awards and Honors

  • D.H.L., Graduate Theological Union, 1999
  • D.H.L, University of San Francisco, 1966
  • S.T.D., Ripon College, 1966
  • S.T.D., Church Divinity School of the Pacific, 1965
  • D.D. Elmhurst College, 1959
  • D.D., University of Vermont, 1957