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 ten 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.
  • Celebrating Sabbath: Accepting God’s Gift of Rest and Delight. National Horizons Bible Study for 2022-23. Louisville: Presbyterian Women, Presbyterian Church (USA), 2022.




A Sign outside a restaurant in Torre Pellice, Italy

I will be on sabbatical from my job at Western Theological Seminary from January 1 through July 1, 2024. If you would like to schedule a speaking or preaching engagement for after that, please don’t hesitate to email me at:
I will, however, be giving the commencement address for Western Theological Seminary on April 27, 2024 at 7:00 PM in Holland, Michigan. Also—
Announcing a DMin Cohort with Carol M Bechtel:

Seeking Sabbath in a Frantic World

Sabbath is the gift designed by God to give us rest and renewal amid a frantic world. God knows we need it! Yet Christians have largely lost touch with this important part of our spiritual heritage. Even those of us who say we “keep Sabbath” are often unaware of its potential for re-forming our walk with God, others, and all creation. In this cohort, we’ll explore what it means to celebrate Sabbath. Through study, practice, writing, and celebration, we will “seek Sabbath” together. Some of the questions we
will explore include:
• Is Sabbath more than self-care? If so, how/why?
• Is Sabbath selfish?
• How can busy pastors realistically celebrate Sabbath?
• What are the real-life consequences of rejecting the gift
of Sabbath? For us? For others? For the world?
• What practical suggestions and practices are available for
supporting Sabbath celebration?
• Why is Sabbath more like a party with people we love
than it is a list of obligations?
Program Qualifications:
This Doctor of Ministry cohort is designed specifically for women in pastoral ministry. To qualify for
the Doctor of Ministry program, applicants must meet the following requirements:
• Hold an M.Div. degree or its
educational equivalent
• Have at least three years of
ministry experience since the M.Div.
was completed.
• Be prepared to participate in seminars
for two weeks in each of the three years.
If you do not hold an M.Div. degree, please
contact admissions.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Doctor of Ministry cohort I am leading, check out this link: Seeking Sabbath. The deadline for application is May 1, 2024. The 3-year cohort will begin in the fall of 2024.



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