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Borsch-Rast Book Prize and Lectureship

About the Prize and Lectureship

The Borsch-Rast Book Prize and Lectureship of the Graduate Theological Union has as its purpose the encouragement of the writing and publication of theological scholarship by GTU graduates and current faculty. The endowment for the Borsch-Rast Book Prize and Lectureship comes from the sale of Trinity Press International, a venture dedicated to the publication of scholarly and often interdisciplinary theological studies. The prize and lectureship honor the joint example and collaboration of Frederick Houk Borsch (1935-2017) and Harold W. Rast (1933-2004). Hal Rast, after years as a senior editor at Fortress Press, was the founding director and editor of Trinity Press International, where he championed significant theological and religious studies. Fred Borsch was chair of Trinity Press International’s Board of Governors and then its Advisory Board. Borsch was also (1972-1981) the Dean and President of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific and among the founders of the Graduate Theological Union Library. This prestigious prize of $10,000 will be awarded on an annual basis.

Recipients of the Prize


Timothy H. Wadkins, The Rise of Pentecostalism in Modern El Salvador: From the Blood of the Marytrs to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Baylor University Press, 2017).

Dr. Wadkins (PhD, '88) is professor of religious studies and theology at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. 

Speaking on behalf of the Borsch-Rast selection committee, former GTU Dean Margaret Miles heralded Timothy Wadkins’s The Rise of Pentecostalism in El Salvador as “engaging and informative, an important and timely contribution to North American readers’ knowledge of the fastest growing spiritual movement across the globe.” Miles noted that Christianity is exploding in in Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, and that one-quarter of the world’s Christian population is now Pentecostal. “More than a remarkable geographical shift, doctrine and practice are also changing, as religious attention focuses on the activity of the Holy Spirit in individuals and society.”

While El Salvador remains predominantly Roman Catholic, more than 35 percent of its people are now evangelical Protestants, mostly identifying as Charismatic or Pentecostal. The country’s fast-growing Pentecostal movements are diverse, involving different social classes, the wealthy as well as the poor, women leaders as well as men, the educated and the uneducated. “Wadkins’s prize-winning book traces the Protestant-Evangelical renaissance and its deep interactive connection to modernization in El Salvador,” said Miles.

Dr. Wadkins gave his Borsch-Rast Lecture on February 12th, 2019 and Dr. Margaret Miles, professor emerita of historical theology and former GTU Dean provided a response. For more on the lecture, see the event page. See the video archive below our the GTU YouTube page for a video recording of Dr. Wadkins's lecture. 

Honorable Mention: Dr. Ahn Q. Tran, associate professor of historical and systematic theology at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, received an honorable mention for his book Gods, Heroes, and Ancestors: An Interreligious Encounter in Eighteenth-Century Vietnam (Oxford University Press).



Naomi Seidman, The Marriage Plot, Or, How Jews Fell in Love with Love (Stanford University Press, 2016).

Dr. Seidman was Koret Professor of Jewish Culture at the GTU’s Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies and is now Chancellor Jackman Professor of the Arts in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto.

Members of the selection committee heralded Dr. Seidman’s work for its profound exploration of Jewish cultural attitudes toward love, sex, and marriage. Dr. Margaret Miles, professor emerita of historical theology and former academic dean of the GTU declared: “The Marriage Plot demonstrates a complex connection between literature and romantic practices in nineteenth century European Jewish communities. But Seidman’s thoughtful and intriguing revisions of such common assumptions as secularism, assimilation, and modernity extend far beyond her strong contribution to Jewish Studies. Readers are sure to be engaged, challenged, and persuaded to rethink our understanding of all sex-gender systems and how they circulate both in literary form and in the erotic choices we make.”

The inaugural Borsch-Rast Lecture was held on March 22nd, 2018 at the Chapel of the Great Commission, Pacific School of Religion. Dr. Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature in the Department of Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley, and Dr. Daniel Boyarin, Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture in the Department of Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley, spoke on themes inspired by Dr. Seidman's book, with a response from the author. The lecture can be viewed here.



Borsch-Rast Lectureship Video Archive

The Second Annual Borsch-Rast Book Lecture with Dr. Timothy Wadkins, February 12, 2019
The First Annual Borsch-Rast Book Lecture, March 22, 2018