Jamaicans In Atlanta

Influential Jamaican in Atlanta: Dr. Noel Erskine

Written by Glen Laman

Dr. Noel Leo Erskine is Professor of Theology and Ethics at Candler School of Theology and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Emory University. A native of Jamaica, he holds a Diploma in Theology from the University of London, a Master of Theology from Duke University, a Master of Sacred Theology from Union Theological Seminary, a Master of Philosophy from Union Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Union Theological Seminary.

            He has been a Visiting Professor at ten schools in six countries: the University of Ife in Nigeria, Africa; Facolta Valdese di Teologia in Italy, Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia; the International Theological Center Atlanta, Georgia; Kenya University in Kenya, Africa; The Pastor’s Training Institute in Burundi, Africa; Maryknoll Institute New York, Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, Ohio;  Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, Birmingham, UK and the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, West Indies. During the fall semester 2009 Professor Erskine will be The Underwood Professor of Theology at Yonsei University, Korea. Spring 2010 he presents the James Gray lecture at Winston Salem State University and summer 2010 lectures on “The Queen of Sheba in the Rastafari Tradition” at the University of Leipzig, Germany.

            Professor Erskine is active in the Society for the Study of Black Religion where he served as secretary, the American Academy of Religion and the Black Theology Project in the Americas. He also serves on the Advisory Council for the Secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas in Atlanta, Georgia.

            Dr. Erskine has contributed to numerous journals, magazines, and anthologies. His books chronicle the historical and complex nature of Black Theology, Revivalism, Rastafarianism, the theological perspective of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, James Cone  and Afro-Christianity in the Caribbean and the American South. His best known book Decolonizing Theology, which has been in print for over two decades, is a historical study of the development of Christianity in the Caribbean. It assesses the religion’s evolution and its adaptation by the indigenous people to meet the socio-cultural and spiritual needs inherent in their struggle for freedom.

            Professor Erskine’s publication, King Among the Theologians, compelled one critic to write, “Erskine’s work is more than a readily accessible account of King’s theology; it is an introduction and invitation to the lively theological discourse at the heart of the unfinished struggle in which King participated – and is an invitation to the struggle itself.” His other books include Black People and the Reformed Church in America ,  From Garvey to Marley: Rastafari Theology (University Press of Florida, 2005), and Black Theoloy and Pedagogy (Palgrave, 2008) Forthcoming, The Black Church: Caribbean and African American   (Under contract Oxford University Press).

            Dr. Erskine has made scholarly presentations at many universities and conferences throughout the world. He is widely sought after as an engaging speaker. He resides in Atlanta with his wife Glenda. They have three children – Donna, June and Leo.

About the author

Glen Laman