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COLLECTION Identifier: bMS 750

Kaufman, Gordon D. Papers, 1945-2011.

Papers of Christian theologian and professor of theology, Gordon D. Kaufman, including teaching materials, correspondence, writings and reviews, lectures and addresses, and biographical material.


  • 1945-2011


There are restrictions on access to this collection. Consult the curator of manuscripts and archives for further information.


30 boxes

This collection consists of the papers and writings of Gordon D. Kaufman, including published and unpublished works, correspondence with colleagues and publishers, teaching material and notes, lectures, addresses, sermons, and biographical material which includes interviews with Kaufman. Also included are early writings by Kaufman while enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate programs, information on his doctoral dissertation, material related to international fellowships and grants used to research and teach overseas, published reviews of his books and articles, and material pertaining to his professional life at Vanderbilt University and Harvard Divinity School.

Of particular note are Kaufman’s conference materials, much of which includes papers given and heard at various conferences throughout his career, and a small collection of information and historical material pertaining to the Lawson Affair at Vanderbilt Divinity School. In 1960, James M. Lawson, a student the Divinity School, was dismissed due to his participation in sit-ins and civil rights protests in Nashville. In response to his expulsion, ten faculty members of the Divinity School, including Kaufman, resigned their teaching positions until Lawson was reinstated. The series on the Lawson Affair, as it has come to be known, includes chronologies of events, writings, newsletters, magazine articles, correspondence to Kaufman and official correspondence with Vanderbilt University, an employment offer from Chicago Theological Seminary in response to his resignation, newspaper clippings, statements and reports, and written histories of the events.

Biographical / Historical

Gordon D. Kaufman (1925-2011), a prominent Christian theologian and professor of theology, is known for his contributions to constructive, systematic, and liberal Christian theology, and particularly for his argument that God is a profound mystery of creativity. Kaufman rethought theology in naturalistic terms, making significant contributions to the discussions of science and religion, ecological issues, evolution, and engaged in religious pluralism and the promotion of interfaith understanding. As an academic, Kaufman also had a great interest in Buddhism, interpreting the religious tradition through his own specific theological lens.

Born in Newton, Kansas on June 22, 1925, Kaufman was educated at Bethel College (1947), Northwestern University (1948), Yale Divinity School (1951), and Yale University, where he received a PhD in philosophical theology in 1955, and was ordained in the General Conference Mennonite Church in 1953. Following his doctorate, Kaufman taught at Pomona College (1953-1958), Vanderbilt University (1958-1963), and Harvard Divinity School as Professor of Theology and the Mallinckrodt Professor of Divinity, becoming Professor Emeritus in 1995, but continued to teach until 2009. Some of his major works include God the Problem (1972), An Essay on Theological Method (1979), Theology for a Nuclear Age (1985), In Face of Mystery (1993), and In the Beginning—Creativity (2004).


Organized into the following series:
  1. Series I. Kaufman’s student work
  2. Series II. Teaching materials
  3. ___Subseries A. Courses taught by Kaufman
  4. ___Subseries B. The Lawson Affair
  5. ___Subseries C. International Fellowships
  6. Series III. Conferences
  7. Series IV. Correspondence
  8. Series V. Writings and reviews
  9. Series VI. Lectures and addresses
  10. Series VII. Publishing materials
  11. Series VIII. Sermons and worship materials
  12. Series IX. Professional materials
  13. Series X. Biographical material

Acquisition Information

Gift of David Kaufman, 2012.

Processing Information

Processed by Tamira Beth Stephens, 2015.
Link to catalog
Kaufman, Gordon D. Papers, 1945-2011: A Finding Aid.
Andover-Harvard Theological Library

Repository Details

Part of the Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School Repository

Special Collections at Andover-Harvard Theological Library preserves and makes accessible primary source materials documenting the history of religion and theology, with particular historical emphasis on American liberal religious traditions. Though the historical strengths of the collections have been in the field of Christianity, other religious traditions are increasingly reflected, in step with Harvard Divinity School's evolving focus on global religious studies.

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