College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Gifford Lecture Series 2020-2021

Professor David Hempton - Networks, Nodes, and Nuclei in the History of Christianity, c. 1500-2020

David Hempton

David Hempton is a Senior Professor at Harvard University and Dean of Harvard Divinity School

Events details

Professor David Hempton will give a series of lectures titled Networks, Nodes, and Nuclei in the History of Christianity, c. 1500-2020.

Dates: 4, 5, 7, 11, 12, 14 October 2021, 5.30-6.30pm.

The lectures may be followed by questions. Latest finishing time is 7pm.

Venue: The Playfair Library, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh EH8 9YL

This event is open to all but tickets need to be booked in advance. Tickets for individual lectures can be booked here:


Series summary

Historians of Christianity, even when innovative in theory and method, have mostly written within national, denominational, or institutional frameworks.  Yet many of the most important changes and developments within Christianity have been transnational in scope, trans-denominational in character, and not easily contained within institutional or hierarchical structures.  What difference would it make to reimagine the history of Christianity in terms of transnational networks, nodal junction boxes of encounter and transmission, and a greater sense of the core memes and messages of religious traditions and expressions?  That is the principal question to be explored in the following set of lectures.

We welcome contributions to discussion about the series at the Gifford Lectures Blog.


Lecture 1. Towards a theory of Transnational Religious Change    


Monday 4 Oct 2021, 5.30-6.30pm 




Lecture 2. Religious Networks in the Reformation Era 


Tuesday 5 Oct 2021, 5.30-6.30pm




Lecture 3. Religious Networks in the Age of Empire in New Spain and West Africa 


Thursday 7 Oct 2021, 5.30-6.30pm 




Lecture 4. The Protestant International: Pietism, Premillennialism and Pentecostalism 


Monday  11 Oct 2021, 5.30-6.30pm



Lecture 5. Women's Networks: Opportunities and Limitations 


 Tuesday 12 Oct 2021, 5.30-6.30pm



Lecture 6. "Only Connect" : Networked Christianity in the Digital Age 


 Thursday 14 Oct 2021, 5.30-6.30pm



Gifford Seminar

The Gifford Seminar will be held on Wednesday 13 October 2021 from 1pm to 2pm.

At this year's Seminar, Gifford lecturer Professor Hempton will join leading academics to discuss questions from the audience arising from his Gifford Lecture Series, “Networks, Nodes, and Nuclei in the History of Christianity, c. 1500-2020"

The Seminar will be held online. If you would like to attend please email to request the link.


Online Via MS Teams


Professor Hempton will be joined by Susan Hardman-Moore, Professor of Early Modern Religion, and Professor Brian Stanley,  Professor in World Christianity, both of New College


Professor Stewart Brown


David Hempton is the Alonzo L. McDonald Family Professor of Evangelical Theological Studies, John Lord O’Brian Professor of Divinity, and Dean of Harvard Divinity School.  He held prior appointments as Professor of Modern History and Director of the School of History at Queen’s University Belfast and distinguished University Professor at Boston University.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy.  He has delivered the Cadbury Lectures at the University of Birmingham and the F. D. Maurice Lectures at King’s College London.

His books include Methodism and Politics in British Society 1750-1850 (Stanford University Press, 1984), winner of the Whitfield prize of the Royal Historical Society; Religion and Political Culture in Britain and Ireland: From the Glorious Revolution to the Decline of Empire (Cambridge University Press, 1996); Methodism: Empire of the Spirit (Yale University Press, 2005), winner of the Jesse Lee prize; Evangelical Disenchantment: Nine Portraits of Faith and Doubt (Yale University Press, 2008), The Church in the Long Eighteenth Century (I. B. Tauris, 2011), winner of the Albert C. Outler Prize of the American Society of Church History; and most recently (with Hugh McLeod), Secularization and Religious Innovation in the North Atlantic World (Oxford University Press, 2017). 

Series videos

The lectures will be recorded and links will be posted in the respective pages of each lecture. Related links

Harvard Divinity School

Gifford Lectures Blog