Dr. R. Alan Culpepper Announces Plans to Step Down After 20 Years as Dean of McAfee School of Theology


ATLANTA – Dr. R. Alan Culpepper, a leading New Testament scholar and the only dean Mercer University's James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology has known over its nearly two-decade-long history, has announced that he is turning over the reins to new leadership at the end of this academic year. After a sabbatical, he will join the McAfee faculty.

“As founding dean of Mercer's McAfee School of Theology, Alan Culpepper has had a significant influence in shaping theological education in the Baptist tradition over the last two decades,” said Mercer President William D. Underwood. “He is greatly revered by students and alumni of the School, is known throughout the world for his New Testament scholarship, and is considered a friend to churches and pastors around the Southeast. I am deeply grateful for his many contributions to the University and am pleased that he will continue to serve Mercer and its students as a teacher, scholar and resource to churches.”

Dr. Culpepper was appointed McAfee's founding dean in July of 1995, just over a year before the School's first classes began on the Cecil B. Day Campus in Atlanta. In addition to his administrative duties, he has regularly taught one course each semester, usually a New Testament elective or the capstone course.

“Alan Culpepper brought spiritual insight and academic credibility to the creation of the McAfee School of Theology,” said Mercer Chancellor Dr. R. Kirby Godsey, who as president in 1995 recruited Dr. Culpepper to the dean's post. “He took what was only an embryonic idea of a school and, along with his colleagues, turned that idea into a place of education and reflection that has inspired and educated an entire generation of ministers.”

Dr. Culpepper came to Mercer from Baylor University, where he was professor of religion. Previously, he had served as associate dean of the School of Theology and professor of New Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“We are very proud of Alan Culpepper's vision and leadership of the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University as its inaugural dean,” said Mercer trustee Carolyn McAfee, who, along with her late husband James McAfee, provided a significant endowment for the school. “Alan has done a remarkable job of understanding a dream, building and guiding a team through the planning stages, and developing a practical theological education that is preparing the next generation of ministers.”

Dr. Culpepper has written nine books, includingAnatomy of the Fourth Gospel;The Gospel and Letters of John; the commentary on Luke in the New Interpreter's BibleJohn, the Son of Zebedee: The Life of a LegendEternity as a Sunrise: The Life of Hugo H. Culpepper; and Mark, a volume of theSmyth and Helwys Bible Commentary. He has written numerous articles for journals, periodicals and books, and has served as a New Testament editor for the Smyth and Helwys Bible Commentary and for the Biblical Interpretation Series published by E. J. Brill. He is also on the editorial board for the Library of New Testament Studies.

“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as the founding dean of Mercer's School of Theology,” said Dr. Culpepper. “Rarely does one see the hand of providence so clearly as in the story of the birth and first two decades of the McAfee School of Theology. University leadership, the McAfees, faculty, staff, students, supporting pastors and churches, and friends of the School have all come together to shape a unique community of learning. I look forward to teaching full time and continuing to work with colleagues at Mercer as the School enters its third decade.”

“As one of the longest-serving academic deans in Mercer's history, Alan Culpepper has left an indelible mark on the University,” said Provost Dr. D. Scott Davis. “When he completes his administrative tenure next year, we will look forward to the future contributions he will make as a highly regarded scholar and teacher. He is a tremendous asset to the University and its students.”

Dr. Culpepper grew up the son of missionaries in Chile and Argentina, and went on to earn his bachelor's degree at Baylor, his Master of Divinity at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and his Doctor of Philosophy at Duke University. He also studied in Germany and England, and has traveled extensively in Europe, the Middle East, South Africa and Asia.

He and his wife, Jacquelyn McClain Culpepper, an associate professor in Mercer's Tift College of Education, have two grown children, Erin and Rodney. Dr. Culpepper and his wife are members of Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain.

About the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology

The James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology was established in 1996. Located in Atlanta, on Mercer University's Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus, the School of Theology offers degree programs leading to a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry. The School of Theology also offers several joint programs: an M.Div.-Master of Business Administration, M.Div.-Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and M.Div.-Master of Science in Organizational Leadership with a Concentration in Non-Profit. For more information, visit theology.mercer.edu.

Kyle Sears
Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​