Noel Leo Erskine

Professor of Theology and Ethics
Noel Leo Erskine
Phone: 404.727.4175
    • PhD, Union Theological Seminary, 1978
    • MPh, Union Theological Seminary, 1977
    • STM, Union Theological Seminary, 1972
    • MTh, Duke University, 1971
    • Dipl. Theol., University of London, 1964
    • Dipl. Theol., Calabar College Jamaica West Indies, 1964

    On research leave for the 2022-23 academic year.

    The Rev. Dr. Noel L. Erskine teaches theology and ethics at Candler and in Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion. He came to Candler in 1977, and has been a visiting professor at ten schools in six countries. 

    His research interests include Caribbean and Black theologies, the history and development of plantation and Black churches, and theological method in the work of James Cone, Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Erskine has authored and edited 11 books, all of which chronicle the historical and complex nature of Black Theology, Revivalism, Rastafarianism and the theological perspective of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In his most recent book, Plantation Church: How African American Religion Was Born in Caribbean Slavery (Oxford Univ. Press, 2014), Erskine investigates the history of Black churches both in the Caribbean and the United States after the arrival of enslaved Africans. Erskine is the editor for Research in Religion and Family: Black Perspectives. In addition, he has contributed to scores of journals, magazines and anthologies, and is a sought-after lecturer and presenter. 

    As a consultant to the National Institute of Corrections, Erskine works closely with prison chaplains and volunteer staff. He also serves as a member of the Commission of Creation-Care of the Baptist World Alliance, and is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Academy of Religion, and the Society for the Study of Black Religion.

    Erskine has been recognized by his students for his dedication to teaching, winning Candler’s “Faculty Person of the Year” award in 2003, and the school’s “On Eagle’s Wings” Excellence in Teaching Award in 2004. Erskine is currently serving as Emory’s Ethics and Society chairperson and the Association of Caribbean Educators and Students advisor.

    In 2013, Candler established the Erskine-Smith-Moseley Endowment in honor of Erskine, Luther Smith and Romney Moseley, three of the school’s first African American faculty, which provides financial support to students in Candler’s Black Church Studies program.

    Selected Publications

    • Faculty Publication
    • Faculty Publication
    • Faculty Publication


    Plantation Church: How African American Religion Was Born in Caribbean Slavery, Oxford University Press, 2014

    Black Theology and Pedagogy, Macmillan, 2008

    From Garvey to Marley: Rastafari Theology, University Press of Florida, 2005

    Chapters and Articles

    “Baptists and Emancipation in Jamaica,” in Journeying to Justice: Contributions to Baptist tradition across the Black Atlantic (studies in Baptist History and Thought), Paternoster Press, 2017

    “Martin Luther & Martin Luther King, Jr.: Theologians of Faith” in Law and Grace: Martin Luther, Lucas Cranach, and the Promise of Salvation, Halle, Germany: Landesamt fur Denkmalpflege und Archaologie Sachsen- Anhalt – Landesmuseum fur Vorgeschichte Halle (Saale), 2017

    "Martin King Luther, Jr.: A Theologian with a Passion for Reconciliation," Sightings, University of Chicago Divinity School, March 31, 2016

    "'We gon' be Alright': Rap and Reggae as Black Sacred Space," Sightings, University of Chicago Divinity School, February 11, 2016

    "Di Jamiekan Nyuu Testament," International Journal of Public Theology, vol. 7, no. 4, Brill, October 01, 2013

    "What Method for the Oppressed? Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Contribution to Nation-Building in the Caribbean," In an Inescapable Network of Mutuality: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Globalization of an Ethical Ideal, Cascade Books, August 30, 2013

    "Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.," Religious Leadership: A Reference Handbook, Sage, June 01, 2013

    "George Liele, Native Baptists and the Revival Church," George Liele's Life and Legacy, Mercer University Press, October 01, 2012

    "Black Theology in Jamaica," Cambridge Companion in Black Theology, Cambridge University Press, September 01, 2012

    Selected Awards

    "On Eagle's Wings" Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2021

    Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for Outstanding and Invaluable Service to the Community, 2018

    Champion of Education Award, Mavis and Ephraim Hawthorn Golden Krust Foundation, 2018

    Kingston College Old Boy's Association Outstanding Achievement Award for Leadership and Service to the Community, 2018

    Black History Month Award, Atlanta Jamaica Association

    "On Eagle's Wings" Teaching Award, Candler School of Theology, 2003-2004.

    Faculty Person of the Year, Candler School of Theology, 2002-2003.

    Elected to the Pan African Seminar, 1999-2004.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. Collegium of Scholars, Morehouse College

    Summer Fellowship, Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning, 1996-1999

    Religion News Service, "At Maryland church, it’s ‘Caribbean Sabbath,’ not just Black History Month"  (February 23, 2023)

    CBS News Martin Luther King Jr. Day Special 2023 - Hour 2, January, 16, 2023 (Dr. Erskine begins speaking around the 10 minute mark)

    "Culture of Diversity: Race Relations" - Candler School of Theology, February 10, 2015

    Service of Word and Table, Cannon Chapel, February 25, 2014

    "Noel Erskine Discusses Missionary George Liele" - EthicsDaily, 2013

    Selected Courses

    Black Theology and Ethics

    Christology and Ethics

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Rastafari Religion

    Systematic Theology

    The Black Church

    Theologies of Hope and Liberation

    Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    Theology of Martin Luther King, Jr.