Christopher Ocker, Ph.D.

Professor of the History of Christianity
San Francisco Theological Seminary

Photo of Christopher Ocker, Ph.D.


Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary

M.Div., Fuller Theological Seminary


Marin Campus
P: 415.451.2859

Meet Christopher

Christopher Ocker came to San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1991 and has been a member of the Core Doctoral Faculty of the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley since 1992. He has served as Associate Director of the GTU’s Center for Hermeneutical Studies, Co-Director of its Center for the Study of Religion and Culture, and Chair of its Department for Cultural and Historical Studies. He is also affiliated with the Department of History, the Medieval Studies Program, and the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion at the University of California. He has been a fellow of the Institute for European History in Mainz, an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow of the Max Planck Institute for History in Göttingen and the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Constance, and most recently a Senior Fellow of the Center for the Comparative History of Monasticism at the Technical University of Dresden, Germany. During a recent leave of absence from SFTS/GST, he proudly served as the inaugural director of the Program for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne Australia. He teaches the history of global Christianity.

Recognized for his work on the medieval background to the Reformation, Ocker’s research focuses on medieval and Reformation Europe, the history of biblical interpretation, religious conflict, and theology. His publications include Luther, Conflict, and Christendom: Reformation Europe and Christianity in the West (Cambridge University Press, 2018, paperback 2020), Church Robbers and Reformers in Germany, 1525-1547 (E.J. Brill, 2006), Biblical Poetics before Humanism and Reformation (Cambridge University Press, 2002), Johannes Klenkok: A Friar’s Life (American Philosophical Society, 1993), and numerous book chapters, articles, and edited volumes. He is the General Editor of Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions, founded by Heiko Oberman in 1966, and a co-editor of Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte, founded by Karl Holl and Hans Lietzmann in 1925).

Dr. Ocker is a member of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (PCUSA), spouse in an interfaith family, parent of three, and a child of immigrants. He enjoys mountain biking, skiing, hiking, and bookbinding in his spare time.

Courses Taught

Christianity from Jewish Sect to Colonial Religion (SFTS)

Christianity from Colonial Churches to Global Religion (SFTS)

The Muilenburg-Koenig History of Religion Seminar (SFTS)

Religionless Christianity (SFTS)

Reformations (GTU)

Jews, Christians, Muslims (GTU


Select Publications


The Hybrid Reformation: A Social, Cultural, and Intellectual History of Contending Forces. Cambridge University Press, 2022.

Luther, Conflict, and Christendom: Reformation Europe and Christianity in the West. Cambridge University Press, 2018. Paperback 2020.

Church-Robbers and Reformers in Germany, 1525-1547: Confiscation and Religious Purpose in the Holy Roman Empire.  Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2006.  338 pages. 

Biblical Poetics before Humanism and Reformation.  Cambridge University Press, 2002.  265 pages.

Edited, with Susanna Elm, Material Christianity: Western Religion and the Agency of Things. Amsterdam: Springer, 2020.

Coordinating Editor, Politics and Reformations: Histories and Reformations—Essays in Honor of Thomas A. Brady, Jr. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2007.

Coordinating Editor, Politics and Reformations: Communities, Polities, Nations, and Empires—Essays in Honor of Thomas A. Brady, Jr. Coordinating editor (with co-editors, Michael Printy, Peter Starenko, Peter Wallace). Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2007.

Associate Editor.  The New Westminster Dictionary of Church History.  Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2008. 691 pages.

Recent Articles

With Susanna Elm, “Christianity and the Material, Medieval to Modern.” Material Christianity (see above), 1-25.

“Resacralizing the Media of Grace.” Material Christianity (see above), 69-102.

“Calvin and Calvinism in Germany.” Pages 200-219, Oxford Handbook of Calvin and Calvinism. Edited by Bruce Gordon, Carl Trueman. New York: Oxford University Press, 2021.

“Disruption and Engagement: Christendom’s Experience of Islam at the End of the Middle Ages.” Pages 179-209, Unordnung. Festchrift für Gert Melville zum 70. Geburtstag. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2021.

“The Motion of Another’s Death.” Pages 368-392, Death, Burial and Remembrance in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe 1300-1700 (Brill Companions to the Christian Tradition). Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2020.

“Spirit, Writers, and Biblical Readers in ‘the Practical Circumstances of Life’: A Political Hermeneutic.” Pages 59-82, Sola scriptura heute. Ed. Stefan Alkier. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2019.

“Sexual Crime and Political Conflict: An Alsatian Nobleman Is Burned to Death with His Male Lover in 1482.” A Sourcebook of Early Modern History: Life, Death, and Everything in Between. In Honor of Susan C. Karant-Nunn, ed. Ute Lotz-Heumann. New York: Routledge, 2019, No. 27.

“After the Peasants War: Barbara von Fuchstein Fights for Her Property.” Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Reforme, special issue on the early Reformation, edited by Robert Bast and Andrew Colin Gow 40(2017):141-159.

“Anti-Judaism and Anti-Semitism.” Oxford Encyclopedia of Martin Luther, ed. Derek Nelson, Paul Hinlicky. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.

“Unintended Consequences: How the Reformation Expanded Theology,” contribution to the Reformation Forum of Marginalia: A Los Angeles Review of Books Channel, 8 December 2017

“Explaining Evil and Grace.” Pages 23-46, Oxford Handbook of the Reformation, ed. Ulinka Rublack. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Click here for additional publications (downloads a PDF list)