Celebrating Dr. Hanna Reichel’s Promotion to Full Professor and Appointment to the Charles Hodge Chair of Systematic Theology  - Princeton Theological Seminary
Hanna Reichel

“It is incredibly exciting and deeply humbling,” says Hanna Reichel of their recent promotion to Full Professor and appointment to the Charles Hodge Chair of Systematic Theology. “I’m acutely aware of the history and significance of this Chair, and the huge shoes to fill. I understand the appointment as a charge to bring the gifts of the Reformed tradition and systematic reflection to bear on pressing questions in theological scholarship, the church, and the world. I am looking forward to the opportunity to shape theological discourse, lift others’ critical work, and expand theological conversations.”

As a child of two pastors, both of whom worked in a diversity of ministries in and beyond the church, Reichel knew from an early age that “the Christian faith was the water in which I swam, and it helped me make sense of the world. The church was this weird and amazing place where no matter where you went, even if you had nothing else in common, you were put into kinship with others by Christ as a base for grappling with difference in all ways.”

After working with grassroots organizations in Argentina, Reichel pursued studies in economics and theology in Bonn, Beirut, and Heidelberg in their native Germany. Increasingly, they gravitated to theology to pursue “bigger questions of justice, truth, and what it means to live with one another in a world that — despite all appearances — belongs to God and with which God is not yet finished.”

Reichel came to Princeton Seminary in 2018 after teaching at Heidelberg University and Halle-Wittenberg University. They were drawn by the unique qualities of the institution as an independent Seminary with Ivy League-level scholarship, and its historical significance in American and global contexts.

Reichel resonates strongly with the official Princeton Seminary mottos of Faith and Scholarship and being Reformed and Ecumenical. “I’ve experienced a deep appreciation in this place for the tradition paired with an emphasis on particularity and attentiveness to context that doesn’t dilute but grounds the inquiry, and deepens its stakes,” says Reichel. “Critical inquiry and rigorous investigation are not things to fear; we use the best human reason has to offer to worship God more fully, with our whole being, including our minds.”

Working with Princeton Seminary students from diverse experiences and backgrounds is particularly fulfilling for Reichel. “The commitment that distinguishes our students across all programs, in addition to their intellectual gifts, makes for vigorous engagement. When we don’t feel threatened but enriched by different insights and curious about different concerns, we have much to learn from one another.”

“It’s been very rewarding to work here at PTS,” Reichel continues. “From the start, my colleagues have drawn me in as a partner in developing intellectual community as well as opened new horizons of thought for me, at and beyond the Seminary.”

Their Princeton Seminary colleagues echo these sentiments when describing Reichel’s bold approach to theology.

“Dr. Reichel is a prolific and rigorous scholar in Reformed theology and a beloved teacher among our students,” says Dr. Keri Day, Full Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religion. “As the newly appointed Charles Hodge Chair Professor of Systematic Theology, Dr. Reichel is and will continue to be a theologian of global importance, boldly demonstrating the continued relevance of Reformed theology for contemporary questions in churches and broader society. Equally exciting, as a genderqueer scholar, Dr. Reichel’s scholarly work seeks to bring Reformed theology into conversation with queer theory, black studies, and decolonial theory in ways that are creative and transformative.”

“Hanna Reichel is doing some of the most important and creative work in Reformed theology in our time,” says Dr. John Bowlin, Robert L. Stuart Professor of Philosophy and Christian Ethics. “I am honored to have them as a colleague and delighted by their new appointment. With this appointment, and with so many other excellent hires in recent years, the future of Protestant theology at PTS could not be brighter.”

“I believe that Dr. Reichel will lead the way toward new theological vistas in liberation, feminist, decolonial, and queer studies,” says Dr. Mark Lewis Taylor, Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Theology and Culture. “They will represent for us the best of what it means to be Reformed and ecumenical in an age when so many suffer from division, marginalization, and oppression.”

Reichel’s second book, After Method: Queer Grace, Conceptual Design, and the Possibility of Theology, published in October of last year, accepts as a given the “impossibility of doing theology right.”

“The question of method often functions to demarcate ‘proper’ theology, whether out of apologetic impulses, gatekeeping, or intellectual self-justification,” they explain. “My theological response is that method can’t save us. It does, however, remain important as an ethical task: In question is not only the intellectual adequacy of human reasoning, but also whether and how our theologies do justice to God and the world. How does our profession of this God and this God’s creating and transformative love shape our theological practice, our lived experience, and our communal lives?”

“I wrote this book to navigate my own disparate theological heritages, to find an approach where they do not have to be in contradiction, but rather can push one another to become better versions of themselves,” adds Reichel.

Their next project is a theological anthropology that probes “our theological investment in the category of the human. I draw on recent anti-humanist critiques to develop an inventory of the promises and costs of different theological definitions of the human being, such as the imago dei, the site of the incarnation, or God’s covenant partner,” says Reichel. In an upcoming sabbatical, they will pursue this project as well as a smaller volume on divine omniscience through research stays at institutions in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and South Africa.

Reichel is also passionate about building community and creating space for engagement, learning, and exchange. At Princeton Seminary, they want to continue working with the department on a shared curriculum, and with the Karl Barth Center.

“I want to strengthen and expand networks of thought within the U.S., but also internationally, cross-contextually, and ecumenically, using this chair and PTS’ standing to facilitate and deepen theological conversations in which we have as much to learn as we have to give,” says Reichel.