James. F Lawrence, D.Min., Ph.D.
Jim Lawrence is Dean of the Center and also Assistant Professor of Spirituality and Historical Studies at the Graduate Theological Union. He first earned an undergraduate degree in economics for the developing worlds from the University of Texas at Austin. A growing focus on the need for spiritual renewal in the world led to seminary. He studied at Brite Divinity School (Texas Christian University) and then at the Swedenborg School of Religion in Boston, being ordained upon graduation in 1984. During the next seventeen years he worked with three Swedenborgian congregations in rural, suburban, and urban settings, while also serving simultaneously in publishing ministries. He contributed as publisher, editor and author to more than 30 works in church related publication ministries. He received the Doctor of Ministry degree with a concentration on writing and publishing in 1992 from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Indiana, and in 2012 received his Ph.D. in Christian Spirituality from the GTU.
From 2001-2015 he was the Dean of the Swedenborgian House of Studies at Pacific School of Religion, and since July 1, 2015 he has led the new Center for Swedenborgian Studies. In addition to Swedenborgian Studies, he pursues research interests in the Protestant mysticism, Western Esotericism, the history of biblical interpretation, and New Religious Movements.
Art, Environment and Literature
Devin Zuber, Ph.D.
Devin Zuber is an Assistant Professor of American Studies and Literature and faculty member of the Center for Swedenborgian Studies. At the GTU, Devin serves as a core doctoral faculty in the Department for Historical and Cultural Studies, where he teaches in the program concentrations for Art & Religion, New Religious Movements, and Religion & Literature. Prior to coming to Berkeley in 2011, Dr. Zuber taught at the University of Osnabrueck (Germany). He has been a fellow, scholar-in-residence, or visiting research professor at the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library (London), at the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning about Religion and Theology at Wabash College, in Stockholm University’s Department for Aesthetics and Culture (Sweden), and at the Rachel Carson Center for the Environment (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich). His forthcoming book, A Language of Things: Swedenborg and the American Environmental Imagination (UVA Press, 2017) explores the impact of Swedenborgian thought on nineteenth century ecological aesthetics. He is the editor of a newly revised collection of critical essays on the Romantic poet William Blake and Swedenborg (Swedenborg Foundation, 2016), and has published widely on nineteenth century American literature (Emerson, Hawthorne, Audubon, Henry James), and other topics including the memorial aesthetics of 9/11, ecocriticism, and Don DeLillo. He is on sabbatical in Stockholm during the 2015 – 16 academic year and you can read his blog here.
Sacred Texts and Their Interpretation
Rebecca Esterson, Ph.D.
Rebecca Esterson is Assistant Professor in Sacred Texts and Traditions and in Swedenborgian Studies. She earned her Ph.D. from the Graduate Division of Religious Studies at Boston University. She earned her Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School with a focus in world religions, and also studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem as a visiting graduate student. After receiving her master’s degree, she worked at Harvard’s Center for the Study of World Religions for 9 years where she was able to further develop her interest in comparative studies and interfaith learning. Her teaching and research interests include: the history of biblical interpretation, hermeneutics, Jewish and Christian mysticism, Jewish-Christian relations, eighteenth century intellectual culture, Christian Hebraism, and comparative religious studies.
Swedenborgian Biblical Exegesis
Rev. Dr. George F. Dole, Ph.D,
Rev. Dr. Dole is an Emeritus Professor with Adjunct status at the Center. He was born and currently resides in Maine. He holds a B.A. from Yale, an M.A. from Oxford, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. George is an internationally recognized Swedenborgian scholar and served on the faculty at the Swedenborg School of Religion from 1973 until his retirement in 2001 and has continued as adjunct professor to the present. He has served as a Minister in several Swedenborgian churches in the Northeast and New England and continues to translate and analyze Swedenborg’s works, mentor new generations of Swedenborgian students and scholars and teach in the new world of virtual classrooms.
A number of adjunct practical theology teachers also support students preparing for vocational ministry paths. Many of our vocational students are in schools and programs elsewhere in the world and are supported via our distance learning program with occasional local intensive courses. Follow this link to read more about our learning options.
The Staff of the Center for Swedenborgian Studies includes our Financial Manager, Alan Thomsen, our Librarian, Michael Yockey, and our Administrative Assistant, Francesca M. McCrossan. Together they help steward the finances of the Center, manage the Center’s Library and Archives collections, support students, administer programs and manage the daily operations of the Center. You can reach any of them by email at: email@example.com or by phoning 510-849-8228.