Manna: Bread for Your Spiritual Journey

Carol M. Bechtel



Carol M. Bechtel has been helping people to find their way through the Bible for over 25 years. She is a widely-respected author, teacher, and public speaker.

Carol grew up on a farm in Fulton, Illinois—a place her husband and children appreciatively refer to as “The Shire.” Educated at Hope College and Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, she went on to earn a Ph.D. in Old Testament from Yale University. She began her teaching career at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia and has taught at her alma mater, Western Theological Seminary, since 1994.

Although Carol has earned her stripes in the academic world, her heart is in the church. “My deepest sense of call has always been in helping people understand that the Bible is a book about and for them.” This calling has shaped her writing priorities over the years. “I love writing devotionals,” Bechtel says. “And I am obsessed with providing substantive, accessible Bible studies for intelligent, curious Christians.” To that end, Bechtel strives to provide material that is:

  • Scholarly without being boring
  • Relevant without being reactionary
  • Accessible without being watered down.

Carol’s calling as both a writer and a speaker has taken her the world. Here are just a few of the places she’s taught over the course of her career:

  • Preacher and Workshop Leader for the Montreat Worship and Music Conference (Presbyterian Association of Musicians), Montreat, North Carolina, 2000 & 2016
  • Keynote Speaker and Preacher at Rathgar Presbyterian Church, Republic of Ireland, April 2009.
  • Preacher for Convocation and Pastor’s School, Duke Divinity School, October 7-9, 2007 (with speakers Wendell Berry, Ellen Davis, Norman Wirzba, and Wes Jackson)
  • Workshop leader at the Tenth Anniversary Celebration of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Pretoria, South Africa, March 2005. (Workshop title: “Sowing Tears, Reaping Joy: The Bible and Brahms’ Requiem.”)
  • Keynote Bible Study Leader Church-Wide Gathering 2000, Presbyterian Women, Louisville, Kentucky

Carol lives in Holland, Michigan with her husband, Tom. They have four children and four grandchildren. She enjoys cooking, gardening, singing, and playing the Celtic harp.







  • Glimpses of Glory. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1998
  • Life after Grace. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2003
  • Esther: A Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Interpretation series. James L. Mays and Patrick D. Miller, editors. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2002. Italian translation (Torino: Claudiana, 2005). Japanese translation (United Church of Christ in Japan, 2007).
  • Touching the Altar: The Old Testament and Christian Worship. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008; editor of volume and author of chapter, “Knowing our Limits: Job’s Wisdom on Worship.”




  • Hallelujah! The Bible and Handel’s Messiah, Resource Book and Leader’s Guide.  Pittsburgh: The Kerygma Program, 1995.
  • Sowing Tears, Reaping Joy: The Bible and Brahms’ Requiem, Resource Book and  Leader’s Guide. Pittsburgh: The Kerygma Program, 1997.
  • Job and the Life of Faith: Wisdom for Today’s World, Resource Book and Leader’s Guide. Pittsburgh: The Kerygma Program, 2004.
  • Above and Beyond: Hearing God’s Call in Jonah and Ruth. National Horizons Bible Study for 2007-2008. Louisville: Presbyterian Women, Presbyterian Church (USA), 2007.
  • Living in Community. Grand Rapids: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2008.




February 22-23, 2019: New Hope Church, Powell, Ohio

Carol will be leading a women’s retreat for New Hope Church on February 22-23, 2019. The focus will be on the biblical book of Esther.

“God Save the Queen: An Exploration of the Book of Esther”

Many Christians question whether the book of Esther should be included in the Christian canon. (Martin Luther said that it was full of “pagan naughtiness”!) What most people don’t realize is that this ancient story has much to say to Christians in “such a time as this.” One of its most relevant themes is: How do we remain faithful in the midst of an unfaithful culture? Our study of the book of Esther will explore this and other insights from one of the Bible’s most neglected books. It will also seek to deepen our appreciation for the character of Queen Esther—arguably one of the Bible’s most misunderstood women.

For more information/registration, contact Rev. Sarah Palsma (, or call 614-766-5445.


October 14, 21, & November 4, 2018: Central Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Carol will be teaching a 3-part course on the biblical book of Job at the 11:00 AM education hour at Central Reformed Church (10 College Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503).

“Wonders, Surprises, and Challenges in the Book of Job”

Believers often look to the Bible’s book of Job when they’re wrestling with the question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The character Job, after all, was very good man who suffered in some of the very worst ways. In this workshop we’ll explore what his story does—and does NOT—teach about the problem of suffering. We’ll also look at ways we can be faithful Christians even in the face of limited information—that is—when we don’t have all the answers!


May 12, 2018: New Brunswick Theological Seminary
‘Stories of Being First” at the second annual Women’s Stories Day, Saturday, May 12, 2018 at New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Carol M. Bechtel will be one of the features speakers at this event co-sponsored by the Reformed Church Center and the Reformed Church in America’s Office for Women’s Transformational Leadership. Bechtel is the first woman to be installed as a General Synod Professor in the RCA, and the first woman to be ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Classis of Illinois.

For more information, contact James Brumm ( ) or Liz Testa (


May 13, 2018: West End Collegiate Church, New York City
Carol will be preaching at West End Collegiate Church in New York City at 11:00 AM on May 13, 2018. Her sermon will focus on Job’s wife, and is entitled, “The Choice.” She’ll be exploring the question, “How can we be faithful to God when it seems like God has not been faithful to us?”


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This is the website/blog of Carol M. Bechtel. The opinions expressed by Carol do not represent those of any guest or other organization, and the opinions represented by any guest or other organization do not necessarily represent the opinions of Carol. The information provided is on an as-is basis. Carol makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this website/blog and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its use. Inclusion of guests or other organizations does not represent an endorsement of or from those entities.

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