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Robert Lewis Dabney: A Southern Presbyterian Life (Lucas)

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Robert Lewis Dabney (1820–1898) was a Presbyterian theologian and educator who served on the faculties of Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, the University of Texas, and Austin Theological Seminary. Those who knew him—both friends and foes—viewed him as larger than life, "closer to a biblical prophet than a theological professor," writes Sean Lucas.

As this biography explains, "Dabney was far more complex than either historians or admirers concede." He was "in many ways a representative man, one who embodied the passions and contradictions of nineteenth-century Southerners." As such he "provides a window into the postbellum Southern Presbyterian mind" and a reminder of how important nineteenth-century theology is for contemporary issues and debates.

Dabney has been described as an "apostle of the Old South," a perception that may explain why this biography is the first of this key nineteenth-century leader in more than one hundred years. It is also the inaugural volume in the American Reformed Biography series.


"The nineteenth-century Southern church boasted intellectually and morally impressive men who exercised considerable influence over political and social life. Among them, none overmatched Robert Lewis Dabney as a theologian, teacher, and social critic. Sean Lucas has provided a long-needed critical study of this great if problematic man, thereby illuminating our time as well as his." — Eugene D. Genovese

"A model biography—accurate, interesting, sympathetic, and critical. Dr. Lucas has mastered his material, and the result is a portrait of Dabney that will live on. Not only do we come to know the great Virginian better in this book, but we also are given a wonderfully nuanced treatment of the political, intellectual, and ecclesiastical climate of the nineteenth-century South." — David B. Calhoun 

"Lucas’s brisk, delightfully clear writing masks the great difficulty of his achievement. He gets closer to the ideal of objectivity than Dabney’s contemporaries—let alone Lucas’s own contemporaries—could probably imagine. This book is a tremendous feat of scholarly labor and intellectual discipline." — David L. Chappell


Sean Michael Lucas (BA, MA, Bob Jones University; PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.