Georgia Center for the Book
Erskine Clarke

Erskine Clarke

Georgia Connections

  • Decatur, DeKalb County, Long-time professor of religious history at Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur

Notes of Interest

Erskine Clarke won the prestigious Bancroft Prize given by Columbia University for a work "of exceptional merit" for his book, "Dwellling Place: A Plantation Epic" (2005), a compelling narrative history of four generations of a Georgia plantation's inhabitants, white and black. Clarke has written several important books about religion and slavery in the American South. Just retired from teaching duties, he is Professor Emeritus of American Religious History at Columbia theological Seminary in Decatur, where he taught for many years.

Thomas Erskine Clarke was born May 29, 1941 in Columbia, SC. He grew up in South Carolina and received his BA in History at the University of South Carolina in 1963. He earned a Masters in divinity degree in 1966 from Columbia Theological Seminary, did graduate work at the University of Basel in Switzerland 1966-67 and received his Ph.D. in 1970 from Union Theological Seminary, and joined their faculty soon after that. He has since lectured and served as consultant at a number of institutions including Yale University, the University of London, the University of Virginia, Wesley Theological Seminary; Nanjing Theological Seminary in China, and the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. He is publisher and editor of the Journal for Preachers, a quarterly journal of homiletics.

His books include "Wrestlin' Jacob: A Portrait of Religion in the Old South" (1979-reprint 2000), selected by Choice magazine of the American Library Association as an academic Book of the Year. Clarke was also named Author of the Year by the Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists. "The Seminary Presidency in Protestant Theological Seminaries" appeared in 1995; "Our Southern Zion: Calvinism in the South Carolina Low Country, 1690-1990" was published in 1996 and received the Francis Makemie Award from the Presbyterian Historical Society; "Exilic Preaching: Testimony of Christian Exiles in an Increasingly Hostile Culture (edited, 1998); and "Dwelling Place" (2005) which in addition to the Bancroft Prize won the Bell Prize from the Georgia Historical Society for the best book on Georgia history that year.

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