With the appearance last summer of the seventh and final volume, Our Own Time, of his The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church, Hughes Oliphant Old, Class of 1958, completed a monument to scholarship unrivaled in American intellectual history. Old wrote the seven volumes and 4,400 pages in the series over a period of ten years.


President Torrance, Hughes Old, Mary Old, and Jim Kay
Photo: Kim Schmidt

“This history of preaching covers virtually every Christian tradition and continent down to the present,” said PTS academic dean James Kay. “It is an unprecedented accomplishment.”

“While English-language histories of preaching scarcely leave Britain and America once they reach the Puritans, Old’s ranges widely—from colonial preaching in Mexico to revolutionary preaching in Romania at the time of the overthrow of Communism; from the preaching in Chinese house churches to the sermons of Archbishop Romero. Thanks to these volumes, the reader receives a whole new sense of preaching as an indelible church practice making a difference in every part of the world.”

Old earned a doctorate in theology from the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland. On returning to the United States as the pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in West Lafayette, Indiana, he distinguished himself as the author of scholarly books on worship, including the popular introductory text Worship: Reformed according to Scripture, still widely used today. A longtime member of the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, he taught courses in the history of worship at Princeton Seminary from 1998 to 2003 before joining the faculty of Erskine Theological Seminary in South Carolina. There he is currently the John H. Leith Professor of Reformed Worship and dean of the Institute of Reformed Worship.

Old was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Liturgics at the Calvin Commemoration in Geneva in July 2009.