Reed Carlson

“The Boy Who Lived: Transformation of a Theological Motif in Biblical Narrative”


            Reed Carlson, a ThD student in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been named the 2015-2016 winner of the annual Word & World Essay Prize for Doctoral Candidates. Word & World: Theology for Christian Ministry is the quarterly journal published by the faculty of Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

            Carlson’s winning essay, “The Boy Who Lived: Transformation of a Theological Motif in Biblical Narrative,” will be published in the journal’s Summer 2016 issue. Reed borrows his title from the Harry Potter stories and examines other accounts, both biblical and non-biblical, of a boy saved from impending death against seemingly insurmountable odds. He works from the story of Moses, rescued from death at the hands of the Egyptian Pharaoh, to the story of Jesus, rescued from Herod’s attempt at infanticide. Carlson notes that this widespread motif serves “as a sign that God persists to save when all seems lost.”

            Reed Carlson is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church. Before doctoral work, Reed completed a BA in Pastoral Studies at North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and an MA in Old Testament at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul. From 2012–2013, Reed studied in Göttingen, Germany, on a Fulbright Fellowship, and in 2015 he was named an Episcopal Church Foundation Fellow. In addition to his studies, Reed currently teaches Old Testament courses at Harvard University and for the School for Formation, offered by the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. Reed grew up in the Twin Cities and still calls Minnesota home. His wife, Britta Meiers Carlson, is a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a mission developer in that church’s New England Synod. Reed and Britta enjoy traveling, cooking, and exploring Boston by bike.

            Carlson’s essay emerged as the winner from a large group of entries submitted by doctoral students in religion and theology from major seminaries and universities. In addition to having his essay published, Carlson will receive a cash prize of $1000.

            The annual Word & World essay contest, now in its sixteenth year, was designed by the journal’s editorial board to provide incentive for doctoral candidates to write directly for the Christian church during a time in their careers when their work is generally focused more specifically within the academic world. Doctoral students interested in entering the 2016-2017 essay contest can find more information at the journal’s website.

            Copies of the Summer issue, which will contain Carlson’s essay, can be ordered from Word & World, 2481 Como Ave., St. Paul, MN, 55108; (651) 641-3482; or on this website.