The Ingersoll Lectures: 1936 to Present

This is the third and final post on Harvard’s Ingersoll Lectures. Below is an incomplete list of lectures from 1936 to 2010. I haven’t been able to find a complete list of presenters and lecture titles so far. But this years presenter will be Robert Desjarlais, who is the chair in Comparative and International Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College. Many of the past decades lectures may be found on Harvard Divinity School’s website in video format, though the url on the last post no longer works. Here is the link to this years event, I am assuming many of the other lectures may be found for free online as the previous ones in the series. The purpose of these last 3 posts in listing all of the lectures on human immortality is partly to become more aquainted with how much the Bible and mankind is concerned about this topic. I hope that by reading any of these lectures my understanding of Biblical immortality and yours may be further enlightened and improved to the building up of our faith in Christ.

1936: William Ernest Hocking, “Meanings of Death”

1937: George Lyman Kittredge, “The Old Teutonic Idea of the Future Life”

1938: Michael Ivanovich Rostoutzeff, “The Mentality of the Hellenistic World and the Afterlife”

1940: James Bissett Pratt, “The Implications of Selfhood”

1941: Alfred North Whitehead, “Immortality”

1942: Douglas V. Steere, “Death’s Illumination of Life”

1943: Rufus M. Jones, “The Spell of Immortality”

1944: Louis Finkelstein, “The Jewish Doctrine of Human Immortality”

1945: Hu Shih, “The Concept of Immortality in Chinese Thought”

1946: John Haynes Holmes, “The Affirmation of Immortality”

1947: Howard Thurman, “The Negro Spiritual Speaks of Life and Death”

1948: Clyde K. M. Kluckhohn, “Conceptions of Death Among Southwestern Indians”

1949: Edwin Ewart Aubrey, “Immortality and Purpose”

1950: Charles Harold Dodd, “Eternal Life”

1951: George Florovsky, “The Resurrection of Life”

1952: Vilhjalmur Stefansson, “The MacKenzie River Coronation Gulf Eskimos: Their Concept of the Spirit World and Immortality

1953: Willard L. Sperry, “Approaches to the Idea of Immortality”

1954: Theodore Otto Wedel, “The Community of Faith as the Agent of Salvation”

1955: Oscar Cullman, “Immortality of the Soul and the Resurrection from the Dead: The Witness of the New Testament”

1956: Harry A. Wolfson, “Immortality and Resurrection in the Philosophy of the Church Fathers”

1957: Hans Hoffman, “Immortality of Life”

1958: Werner Jager, “The Greek Ideas of Immortality”

1959: Henry J. Cadbury, “Intimations of Immortality in the Thought of Jesus”

1960: John Knox, “The Hope of Glory”

1961: Hans Jonas, “Immortality and the Modern Temper”

1962: Paul Tillich, “Symbols of Eternal Life”

1963: Jaroslav Pelikan, “Immortal Man and Mortal God”

1964: Amos Niven Wilder, “Mortality and Contemporary Literature”

1965: Eric Voegelin, “Immortality: Experience and Symbol”

1966: Wilfred Cantwell Smith, “Eternal Life”

1967: Jurgen Moltmann, “Resurrection as Hope”

1968: Walter N. Pahnke, “The Psychedelic Mystical Experience in the Human Encounter with Death”

1970: Elizabeth Kubler Ross, “On Death and Dying”

1971: Liston O. Mills, “?”

1977: Jane I. Smith, “Reflections on Aspects of Immortality in Islam”

1981: Victor Turner, “Images of Anti-Temporality: An Essay in the Anthropology of Experience”

1983: Wolfhart Pannenberg, “Construction and Critical Functions of Christian Eschatology”

1984: Martin E. Marty, “Hell Disappeared. No One Noticed. A Civic Argument”

1985: Robert J. Lifton, “The Future of Immortality”

1987: John B. Cobb Jr., “The Resurrection of the Soul”

1988: Wilfred Cantwell Smith, “Transcendence”

1989: Caroline Walker Bynum, “Bodily Miracles and the Resurrection of the Body in the High Middle Ages”

1990: Stephen J. Gould, “?”

1991: Lawrence Sullivan, “Death at Harvard and Death in America”

1993: Marian Wright Edelman, “Leave No Child Behind”

1994: Jonathan Mann, “Health, Society, and Human Rights”

1995: Stephen Katz, “The Shoah and Historical Memory”

2002: Daniel Callahan, “The Desire for Eternal Life: Scientific vs Religious Vision

2004: Donald Lopez, “Meditations on the Immortality of Buddha”

2005: Karen Armstrong, “Is Immortality Important? Religion is about Inhabiting the Eternal Here and Now”

2006: James Cone, “Strange Fruit: The Cross and the Lynching Tree”

2008: Leora Batnitzky, “From Resurrection to Immortality: Theological and Political Implications in Modern Jewish Thought”

2009: Francois Bovon, “The Soul’s Comeback: Immortality and Resurrection in Early Christianity”

2010: Albert Raboteau, “Memory Eternal: The Presence of the Dead in Orthodox Christian Piety”

The Ingersoll Lectures: 1914-1935

 This is the second of three posts on the Ingersoll Lectures on Human Immortality hosted by Harvard Divinity School. The list of lectures below comprise the second phase of the lectures, represented by the transition of their publication to Harvard University Press. Some familiar names to me in this list are Henry Emerson Fosdick and C. H. Dodd. The list is not complete again, most likely due to the fact that there weren’t speakers every year, but I’m still looking into it. Look at last weeks post for more information about the lectures themeselves. My goal is to read each one of them in the near future; which is made extremely possible due to the fact that they can be found for free online.

Here is a link to Harvard Divinity School’s website listing, among other lecture series, the last 7 Ingersoll lectures in video format.

1914: George Foot Moore, “Metempsychosis”

1918: Clifford Herschel Moore, “Pagan Ideas of Immortality During the Early Roman Period”

1920: Charles Reynolds Brown, “Living Again”

1921: William Wallace Fenn, “Immortality and Theism”

1922: Kirsopp Lake, “Immortality and the Modern Mind”

1923: George Edwin Horr, “The Christian Faith and Eternal Life”

1924: Philip Cabot, “The Sense of Immortality”

1925: Edgar S. Brightman, “Immortality in Post-Kantian Idealism”

1926: Gustav Kruger, “The Immortality of Man”

1927: Henry Emerson Fosdick, “Spiritual Values and Eternal Life”

1928: Eugene William Lyman, “The Meaning of Selfhood and Faith in Immortality”

1929: W. Douglass MacKenzie, “Man’s Consciousness of Immortality”

1930: Robert A. Falconer, “The Idea of Immortality and the Western Civilization”

1931: Julius Seele Bixler, “Immortality and the Present Mood”

1932: William Pepperell Montague, “The Chances of Surviving Death”

1933: Shailer Mathews, “Immortality and the Cosmic Process”

1934: Walter Eugene Clark, “Indian Conceptions of Immortality”

1935: C. H. Dodd, “The Communion of Saints”


All of these articles may be found for free at

The Ingersoll Lectures: 1896-1912

The Ingersoll Lectures on Human Immortality take place annually at Harvard University. They were initiated by the then president of Harvard, Charles W. Elliott, in 1896 due to a 5,000 dollar endowment left by the late Miss Caroline Haskell Ingersoll (d. 1893). The lectures were were to be held in memory of her father, George Goldthwait Ingersoll. From 1896-1912, the lectures were published in book form by Houghton Mifflin Company of Boston and New York. From 1914-1935, the lectures were published by Harvard University Press in book form. And since 1935 to the present, the University publishes each individual lecture in their Harvard Divinity Bulletin, a journal for alumni and students.

Hebert F. Vetter commented regarding this threefold change in publication stating…

“…these changes in mode of publication define the decrease of interest in the
subject of immortality throughout these 100 years. This trend is also visible in
the fact that initially the president of the university was the host who invited
the lecturers. Gradually the responsibility for this endowed lectureship shifted
from the office of the president to one of the university’s professional
schools, the change being formalized in 1979 when the Harvard Corporation
transferred the Ingersoll Endowment to the Divinity School. This change with
respect to publication correlates with the shift in the place of delivery of the
lectures: from the university’s centrally located largest indoor space, Sanders
Theatre, to a peripherally located divinity lecture hall.”

Below you will find each lecture listed from 1896-1912, the beginning period when each was published in book form by Houghton Mifflin. Some years have been skipped for reasons that are unknown to me at this time. But I plan to read each one and comment about them and the evolution of thought on the topic of immortality as seen through the lens of Harvard University and their guest lecturers throughout the 115 year history. They can all be found as free pdf downloads online (see References).

You can watch the latest lecture in 2010, “Memory Eternal: The Presence of the Dead in Orthodox Christian Piety,” by Albert Raboteau here

1896- George A. Gordon, “Immortality and the New Theodicy” (online)

1897- William James, “Human Immortality” (online)

1898- Benjamin Ide Wheeler, “Dionysos and Immortality” (online)

1899- Josiah Royce, “The Conception of Immortality” (online)

1900- John Fiske, “Life Everlasting” (online)

1904- William Osler, “Science and Immortality” (online)

1905- Samuel McChord Crothers, “The Endless Life” (online)

1906- Charles Fletcher Dole, “The Hope of Immortality” (online)

1906B- Wilhelm Ostwald, “Individuality and Immortality” (online)

1908- William Sturgis Bigelow, “Buddhism and Immortality” (online)

1909- G. Lowes Dickinson, “Is Immortality Desirable?” (online)

1911- George Andrew Reisner, “The Egyptian Conception of Immortality” (online)


All of these lectures can be found for free online at

Herbert F. Vetter, “Centenary Notes,” online at