Kling, David W. 1950-

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KLING, David W. 1950-

(David William Kling)

PERSONAL: Born August 21, 1950 in Mora, MN; married, 1985, wife's name Barbara; children: four. Education: Trinity International University, B.A., 1972; Northern Illinois University, M.A., 1976; University of Chicago, Ph.D., 1985.

ADDRESSES: Home—Miami, FL. Office—University of Miami, Department of Religious Studies, 704 Ashe Administration Building, 1252 Memorial Dr., Coral Gables, FL 33146. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Writer, educator, and historian. Palm Beach Atlantic College, Palm Beach, FL, assistant professor, 1982–86; University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, administrator, 1986–93, assistant professor, 1993–95, associate professor, 1995–.

MEMBER: American Academy of Religion, American Society of Church History.

AWARDS, HONORS: Kenneth Scott Latourette Prize in Religion and Modern History for Best Book Manuscript, 1992.


A Field of Divine Wonders: The New Divinity and Village Revivals in Northwestern Connecticut, 1792–1822, Pennsylvania State University (University Park, PA), 1993.

(Editor, with Douglas A. Sweeney) Jonathan Edwards at Home and Abroad: Historical Memories, Cultural Movements, Global Horizons, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 2003.

The Bible in History: How the Texts Have Shaped the Times, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to books, including The Blackwell Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, 1730–1860, edited by Donald M. Lewis, Blackwell Publishing (Malden, MA), 1995; American Theological Education in the Evangelical Tradition, edited by D. G. Hart and R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Baker Books, 1996; and Dictionary of Heresy Trials in American Christianity, edited by George H. Shriver, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1997. Contributor to periodicals, including Journal of Men's Studies, History of Education, Church History, and Religion and American Culture.

SIDELIGHTS: David W. Kling is a writer, educator, and historian who writes on topics related to religious history. Kling's A Field of Divine Wonders: The New Divinity and Village Revivals in Northwestern Connecticut, 1792–1822 began as the author's doctoral dissertation. In the book, he examines in detail the religious and cultural landscape of a section of Connecticut that was the site of vigorous religious revivalism in the thirty-year span from 1792 to 1822. During the period called the Great Awakening that occurred a half century prior, religious revivals were rare in New England's Congregational churches. However, during the Second Great Awakening religious revivalism proliferated throughout the region. Revivals were led by New Divinity clergymen, third-generation followers of Jonathan Edwards. These charismatic and college-educated men practiced strict religious observances and adhered to sober principles and lifestyles. Kling focuses on the village revivals inspired by these men and which are known to have occurred in Connecticut's Hartford and Litchfield counties. He studies the revivals, "the clergy who led them, their theology and delivery, and the social context in which the revivals occurred," explained Richard D. Shiels in Journal of Ecclesiastical History.

Unlike their reticent and distant predecessors, the third generation of New Divines were fully "of the people": they were less likely to be a member of any elite group and more than willing to take their religious message straight to the common folk. They often traveled from parish to parish in groups, delivering extemporaneous sermons and exhortations. Using a combination of "theological explication, rhetorical analysis, ministerial biography, ecclesiastical history, historical demography, and gender analysis," Kling reveals "the clerical and popular dimensions of one group's postrevolutionary experience," commented Christopher Grasso in the Journal of Interdisciplinary History. "The result is an exemplary regional study of American religious culture," Grasso concluded.

In The Bible in History: How the Texts Have Shaped the Times Kling "successfully chronicles how Biblical texts have influenced Christian thought throughout history," noted Brad Matthies in Library Journal. Using a hermeneutic approach that interprets the Bible in relation to both past and present, Kling presents eight case studies that illustrate the great divergence of interpretation of scripture among various Christian denominations. Each case study focuses on an important Biblical text and how it was interpreted by the religious denomination under review. Kling covers topics such as the literal interpretation of Jesus's invitation for a young king to sell all his possessions and become a follower, as found in Matthew 19:16-22; the pacifism inherent in Matthew 5's exhortation to "love your enemies" and the origin of the Protestant Reformation in Martin Luther's interpretation of the phrase "the righteous will live by faith," found in Romans 1:16-17. "The great merit of David Kling's book … is to flesh out this conflict of interpretations" of scripture, commented John Wilson in the National Review, while a Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that The Bible in History is "nimbly written for the general reader."

Kling's careful analysis shows that it has long been common practice for scripture to be appropriated and reinterpreted to respond to contemporary religious needs and practice. Alena Amata Ruggerio, writing in Christian Century, observed that in The Bible in History "the lesson … for those who claim to own the sole correct and eternally Biblical pronouncement on gender roles and other topics is that multiple interpretations and accommodation to the times have long been standard hermeneutical practice, and Christian history is richer for it.



Christian Century, January 11, 2005, Alena Amata Ruggerio, review of The Bible in History: How the Texts Have Shaped the Times, p. 37.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, April, 1997, Richard D. Shiels, review of A Field of Divine Wonders: The New Divinity and Village Revivals in Northwestern Connecticut, 1792–1822, p. 384.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, summer, 1995, Christopher Grasso, review of A Field of Divine Wonders, p. 133.

Library Journal, September 1, 2004, Brad Matthies, review of The Bible in History, p. 157.

National Review, November 8, 2004, John Wilson, "Living Text," review of The Bible in History, p. 52.

Publishers Weekly, July 12, 2004, review of The Bible in History, p. 60.