Esther Chung-Kim, Ph.D. 

Professor of Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Areas of Expertise

Religion & Politics
Religious Studies


Professor Chung-Kim specializes in the history of world Christianity, including the European Reformations. Her research examines religious conflict, history of poverty, and the impact of religion on politics, economics, and society. She regularly teaches courses on the History of World Christianity, Poverty, Wealth and Social Change, European Reformations, and Christianity and Politics in East Asia. Her most recent book, Economics of Faith: Reforming Poor Relief in Early Modern Europe (Oxford University Press, 2021) will be coming out in paperback edition by the end of this year.  Recent journal articles and essays include: "Working Women in Poor Relief: Midwives, Nurses and Deaconesses," in Women Reformers in Early Modern Europe (2022); "Pious City: Community and Charity in Calvin's Geneva," (2022) in Archive for Reformation History 113:1 (2022); and "Reforming Church and Society in Denmark," in Lutheranism and Social Responsibility (2022). 



B.A. Drew University, M.Div. Princeton, Ph.D. Duke University


Awards and Affiliations

Sabbatical Grant for Researchers - Louisville Institute 


Duke Scholars on Leadership Education


Dean's Summer Faculty Fellowship


Wesley Summer Seminar Fellowship, Duke University


Research Exchange Fellowship, Eberhards-Karls Universität, Tübingen, Germany


Phi Beta Kappa


Wabash Teaching and Learning Fellowship


Gould Center Faculty Research Grant


Professional Development Network Grant, The Claremont Colleges


Research and Publications

Economics of Faith: Reforming Poor Relief in Early Modern Europe (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021)


Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Acts (2014) English. Comentário Bíblico da Reforma: Atos. Translation of the Reformation Commentary into Portuguese by Paulo José Benício (São Paulo: Cultura Cristã, 2016).


Inventing Authority: The Use of the Church Fathers in Reformation Debates over the Eucharist (2011).



Chung-Kim, Esther. Pious City: Community and Charity in Calvin’s Geneva,Archive for Reformation History, vol. 113, issue 1, (Nov 2022): 168-197.

“Working Women in Poor Relief: Midwives, Nurses, and Deaconesses,” in Women Reformers in Early Modern Europe: Profiles, Texts and Contexts, ed. Kirsi Stjerna (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, Sept 2022), 291-300.

“Reforming Church and Society in Denmark: Johannes Bugenhagen and Christian III in the Scandinavian Reformation,” in Lutheranism and Social Responsibility, eds. Nina Koeford and Andrew Newby (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, June 2022), 21-45. [Refo500 Academic Series]



Chung-Kim, Esther, “Virtual Connection: Teaching Religion and Politics in East Asia Online in the Era of COVID-19,” Sixteenth Century Journal 51, no. S1 [Special Edition on Teaching] (September 2020).

"Calvin and his Lutheran Critics," John Calvin in Context (Cambridge University Press, January 2020), 345-354.

“Reforming Religion Includes Poor Relief,” Blog for the Lumen Center, Aarhus University, Denmark  (October 2019).

"Reception in the Renaissance and Reformation," Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Biblical Interpretation (Oxford University Press, July 2019), 686-703.

"Aid for Refugees: Religion, Migration, and Poor Relief in Sixteenth-Century Geneva," Reformation and Renaissance Review 20:1 (March 2018): 4-17. 

Review of All Things Made New: The Reformation and its Legacy by Diarmaid MacCulloch in Church History 87:3 (September 2018).

"Advocating for Poor Relief in Zurich: Heinrich Bullinger's Contributions to Religious Ideals and Swiss Policy Reforms," Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture 86:2 (June 2017). 

"John Calvin on Poverty and Wealth," (2016)

"The Lord's Supper," (2011)

"Use of Wealth in the Christian Life: John Calvin's Biblical Interpretation," (2009) 

"Use of the Fathers in the Eucharistic Debates between John Calvin and Joachim Westphal," (2009)



Keynote Speaker, "Cost of Practicing Religion," Institute of Sacred Music, Yale University, forthcoming June 2023. 

Keynote Speaker, "Economics of Faith for a General Audience," Claremont Discourse Series, The Claremont Colleges Library, Nov 2022. 

Invited Panelist, "Early Career Series," Renaissance Society of America, Oct 2022. 

Invited Speaker, "Economics of Faith," Meeter Center, Calvin University, Sept 2022. 

Invited Interview, "Poor Relief and Philanthropy," Ormond Center, Duke University, Feb 2022. 

Keynote Speaker, "Care for the Poor during the Reformation," Kessler Conversations, Emory University, March 2021. 

Presenter, "Johannes Bugenhagen: Responsibility for the Deserving Poor," Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, St. Louis, Oct 2019. 

Speaker, "Bullinger's Advocacy Work for the Poor in Zurich," The Meeter Center, Calvin College, Sept 2019.

Keynote Speaker, “Caring for the Deserving: Wittenberg Reformers on Poor Relief,” Lumen Center Symposium, Aarhus University, Denmark, Feb 2019.

Speaker, “Advocacy for the Poor in Zurich: Heinrich Bullinger’s Contributions to Religious Ideals and Policy Reforms,” Institute for Swiss Reformation History, University of Zurich, Switzerland, Feb 2019.

Presenter, “Aid for the Refugees,” Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, Albuquerque, NM, Nov 2018.

Chair and Respondent, “Exiles in the Early Modern Period,” Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, Albuquerque, NM, Nov 2018.

Chair and Respondent, “Reception of the Early Church in the Reformation,” American Historical Association and American Society of Church History, Washington D.C., Jan 2018.

Other days by Zoom appointment
Tuesday 10:00-11:00am