Conrad Hyers

Merritt Conrad Hyers (1933–2013) was an American historian of religion and ordained Presbyterian minister.[2] He taught for many years at Gustavus Adolphus College, and wrote multiple books on humor in religion and on Zen Buddhism.

Conrad Hyers
Merritt Conrad Hyers

(1933-07-31)July 31, 1933
DiedMarch 23, 2013(2013-03-23) (aged 79)
East Fallowfield Township, Pennsylvania, US
Spouse(s)Geraldine Hyers[1]
Ecclesiastical career
ReligionChristianity (Presbyterian)
ChurchPresbyterian Church (USA)
Academic background
Alma mater
Academic work
DisciplineReligious studies

Early life and educationEdit

Hyers was born on July 31, 1933, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1] He earned a bachelor's degree at Carson–Newman University in 1954, and a bachelor of divinity from the Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1958.[3] He then earned a master of theology from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1959, and completed his doctor of philosophy degree in theology and the philosophy of religion from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1965.[4]

Academic careerEdit

He taught the history of religion at Beloit College and then, beginning in 1977, at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.[4] In 1986 he was the inaugural winner of the Gustavus Scholarly Accomplishment Award of the college, "the highest accolade a Gustavus faculty member can receive for distinguished scholarly achievements".[5] He retired in 1997.[4]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1977 and 1978, after first arriving at Gustavus Adolphus, Hyers and his family rented an 1850-era house in St. Peter. His son, Jon Hyers, later produced a feature-length film, The Haunting of North Third Street (2007), "an independent docu-drama" alleging that the house was haunted.[6]

Hyers died on March 23, 2013, in East Fallowfield Township, Pennsylvania.[1]


  • Holy Laughter: Essays on Religion in the Comic Perspective (editor, 1969)
  • Once-Born, Twice-Born Zen: The Soto and Rinzai Schools of Japanese Zen (1971)[7]
  • The Chickadees: A Contemporary Fable (1974)[8]
  • Zen and the Comic Spirit (1975)[9]
  • The Comic Vision and the Christian Faith: A Celebration of Life and Laughter (1981)[10]
  • The Meaning of Creation: Genesis and Modern Science (1984)[11]
  • And God Created Laughter: The Bible as Divine Comedy (1987)
  • The Laughing Buddha: Zen and the Comic Spirit (1989)
  • The Spirituality of Comedy: Comic Heroism in a Tragic World (1996)[12]


  1. ^ a b c Zimmerman, Debbie (March 25, 2013). "Merritt Conrad Hyers of East Fallowfield Township, Pennsylvania". St. Peter Herald. Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  2. ^ Hyers, Conrad (Spring 2000). "Comparing biblical and scientific maps of origins". Directions: A Mennonite Brethren Forum. 29 (1): 16–26. See author biography at the end of the article.
  3. ^ "Candidates for the degree of doctor of theology in residence 1959–1960". Students in the seminary. The Princeton Seminary Bulletin. 53 (4): 113–115. June 1960.
  4. ^ a b c "Obituaries". Inside Gustavus. 45 (27). May 9, 2013.
  5. ^ "The Gustavus Scholarly Accomplishment Award". Gustavus Adolphus College, Office of the Provost. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  6. ^ Dyslin, Amanda (October 17, 2007). "Nightmare on North 3rd". Mankato Free Press.
  7. ^ Review of Once-Born, Twice-Born Zen:
  8. ^ Review of The Chickadees: A Contemporary Fable:
    • Craft, Carolyn M. (Summer 1975), CrossCurrents, 25 (2): 203–206, JSTOR 24457659CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  9. ^ Reviews of Zen and the Comic Spirit:
    • "Review". Kirkus Reviews.
    • Franck, Frederick (October 1975). The Eastern Buddhist. 8 (2): 159–161. JSTOR 44361441.CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
    • Kenney, J. Frank (Fall 1975). Horizons. 2 (2): 284. doi:10.1017/s0360966900012639.CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
    • Rhode, Robert H. (December 1975). Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 43 (4): 806–807. JSTOR 1460802.CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
    • Lee, Karen J. (April 1976). Philosophy East and West. 26 (2): 237–246. doi:10.2307/1398192. JSTOR 1398192.CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
    • Craft, Carolyn M. (Spring 1976). CrossCurrents. 26 (1): 116–121. JSTOR 24458153.CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  10. ^ Reviews of The Comic Vision and the Christian Faith:
  11. ^ Reviews of The Meaning of Creation:
  12. ^ Reviews of The Spirituality of Comedy: