Thursday, August 31, 2006

first things (r.r. reno) ranks graduate programs in theology

The conclusion?  The prospect of theological training in the US is bleak, with the exception of two programs, according to Reno:  Duke (number one), and Notre Dame (number two).  And Notre Dame was recommended with reservations.  Read the whole thing here.

This might be an overly bleak assessment.  Reno rightly observes that a number of programs have bright lights, but I still think his take is too bleak.  He mentions, for example, Gene Outka and Miroslav Volf at Yale as examples of good Christian minds working in the darkness of a pretty thoroughly "post-Christian" faculty.  I'm not sure I would agree with that.  Yale has made some pretty strong hires lately.  I am thinking mainly of John Hare and Denys Turner (in Philosophical Theology and Historical Theology respectively).  And there are some pretty bright lights among the junior faculty too.

What do others think of their ranking? 

(I was pleased to see Bruce Marshall's "Trinity and Truth" called "as fundamental and revolutionary as Karl Barth's strange and difficult discussion of Anselm...")


Anonymous said...

(fr.) dude:

i think that you're right. r.r.r.reno's assessment is surely overly bleak and perhaps a bit behind the times. duke is no doubt an amazing place to study, full of great faculty...probably the best school for theology in the country at the moment.

however, it seems like he's playing a bit with the politics of the easy win to consign lesser faculties to the "post-Christian" penalty box, just because they aren't as rad and notable as huetter, hauerwas, and hays.

admittedly, harvard emits some very silly work now and then (even some damaging stuff from time to time) but most of that is so marginal that no one actually cares. and the good stuff is pretty darn good.

yale has a pretty deep bench of people teaching faithfully, from john hare to chris beeley to miroslav volf to margot fassler to margaret farley to bryan spinks and beyond...not to mention the great work that the Jonathan Edwards Center is doing to provide resources for both the academy and the church.

princeton university has remarkable strengths in theology proper, but seems to choose to deal with "theology and culture" (as does UVA) in a manner that is desperately needed by a nation that has but one stanley hauerwas (who is great, but occasionally a bit one-dimensional). i think that princeton has been quite wise and brave to integrate history and sociology into the theological curricula, and hope that they continue to draw those three warring fields ever closer.

to the point about chicago, the fact that he has "heard from grad students" that professors are never around hardly constitutes the basis for a publishable opinion...such arbitrary conjecture is nearly as frothy and useless as the US News "method" of ranking a school...

i should stop now.

let the doomsayers come down off the cross. we could use the wood.

MM said...

... did Reno fail to mention that the top dogs at Duke think that "the best theologians in the country" are at SMU and Oklahoma? Shame-

Anonymous said...

Reno might have mentioned, just as a point of info, that Duke is developing a ThD program in addition to its PhD in the Religious Studies dept. I think the ThD in general is in an odd place in American universities (mainly because there are only a few legitimate ones around - Harvard and Boston come to mind). Moreover, I fear that Duke's ThD is actually a DMin in disguise.

See here