Dr. Joel Elowsky is the Frank and Valerie Fuerst Professor of Historical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He is also professor of Historical Theology, dean of Advanced Studies, and coordinator of International Seminary Exchange Programs. He also serves as the director of the Seminary’s Center for the Study of Early Christian Texts and is a researcher for the Center for Early African Christianity at the Oden House in New Haven, Conn. He has been a faculty member at Concordia Seminary since 2014.
His interests and areas of expertise include early church studies, the history of exegesis, mission work and African Christianity.
After studying at Westfield House in Cambridge, England, and Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, he transferred to Concordia Seminary, where he received a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) (1990, 1992). He later earned a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from Drew University in Madison, N.J. (2008, 2009). He received a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) from Concordia College in Ann Arbor, Mich. (now Concordia University, Ann Arbor) (1985).
He served as associate professor of theology at Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon (2010–14); as adjunct professor of religion at Drew University (2000–04); and as research director at the Center for Early African Christianity at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pa. (2009–14).
Elowsky’s first call was with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) SELC District as a mission developer in Galloway Township, N.J. (1992–2000). He served as operations manager/research director for Thomas Oden’s 29-volume Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (InterVarsity Press) from 2000–10, which has been translated into at least seven languages. He also served vacancies at Trinity Lutheran Church in Morris Plains, N.J.; the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit in Montville, N.J.; and Our Savior Lutheran Church in Fair Lawn, N.J.
Since 2004, he has been part of the ecumenical group Evangelicals and Catholics Together. He has served as a participant in dialogues between evangelicals and the Vatican, delivering a paper in Vatican City on Scripture and tradition in 2010. He also is a board member of the China Academic Consortium and a member of the International Association of Patristic Studies and the Society of Biblical Literature. He serves as president of the Institute for Classical Christian Studies, which has ties with Yale University. He has lectured extensively in Africa on behalf of Concordia Seminary as a researcher and lecturer for the Center for Early African Christianity.
He helped initiate two series — the five-volume Ancient Christian Doctrine and the 16-volume Ancient Christian Texts (InterVarsity Press) — as well as Ancient Christian Devotional: A Year of Weekly Readings (InterVarsity Press, 2007).
He has edited or authored numerous books and articles, including: John 1–10: New Testament Volume IVa in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (ACCS) series (InterVarsity Press, 2007); John 11–21: New Testament Volume IVb in the ACCS series (InterVarsity Press, 2007); We Believe in the Holy Spirit: Vol. 4 in the Ancient Christian Doctrine series (InterVarsity Press, 2009); The three-volume Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity, eds. Angelo Di Berardino, Thomas C. Oden, Joel C. Elowsky and James Hoover (InterVarsity Press, 2014); Cyril of Alexandria: Commentary on John, Vols. I and II in the Ancient Christian Texts series, trans. David R. Maxwell, ed. Joel C. Elowsky (InterVarsity Press, 2013 and 2015); “Exodus in the Fathers” in The Book of Exodus: Composition, Reception, and Interpretation, Vol. 164 in the Supplements to Vetus Testamentum series, eds. Thomas B. Dozeman, Craig A. Evans and Joel N. Lohr (Brill, 2014); “Alexandrian Theology and Contemporary African Christian Thought” in A New History of African Christian Thought: From Cape to Cairo, ed. David Tonghou Ngong (Routledge, 2016); and Letter to Marcellinus on the Psalms: Spiritual Wisdom for Today. (New Haven, CT: ICCSPress, 2017). He also has been invited to be co-editor with Brian Brewer for a new series with T&T Clark on historical theology.
Elowsky’s translation of Athanasius’ Letter to Marcellinus, was used in the Africa Study Bible. He published the article “Libya” in Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online (Brill, 2020) and has completed an article on Moses for the same publication. He was a consultant for the “60 Minutes” segment on the churches of Lalibela, which aired in November 2019. He edited Dr. David Maxwell’s translation of fragments of Cyril’s Commentary on Romans and 1 & 2 Corinthians for the Ancient Christian Text series, published by InterVarsity Press in the spring of 2022. He lectured in the summer of 2022 at the Patristics Center at the University of Cluj in Romania and helped to secure a grant from the Vatican for the ACCS series to be translated into Romanian and Hungarian. He edited an English translation of Angelo DiBerardino’s lectures on the Institutions of the Early Church (ICCSPress, 2021) and is working on other volumes with DiBerardino for future publication.
Elowsky’s wife, Joy, has played organ for chapel services at Concordia Seminary. She also is the full-time director of music at Holy Cross Lutheran Church and School in Collinsville, Ill. The Elowskys have two sons: Christian, a software developer in Wisconsin, and Luke, a graduate student at Concordia Seminary pursuing a Ph.D. in the area of early church history and exegesis, who is married to Julianna (Pfeiffer). When not traveling or teaching, Elowsky likes to spend time sailing in northern Michigan.
Early church studies
History of exegesis