Jerry H. Bentley

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Jerry H. Bentley (1949 – July 15, 2012[1]) was a world history professor at the University of Hawaii, USA, and founding editor of the Journal of World History since 1990. He wrote on the cultural history of early modern Europe and on cross-cultural interactions in world history. He was one of the cited experts in Annenberg Media's 2004 series of educational videos that are broadcast by satellite on the Annenberg Channel.


Bentley was born in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, the oldest of three boys. His father was an engineer, and his mother was a homemaker and entrepreneur. He attended Brainerd High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then went on to the University of Tennessee where he obtained a bachelor's degree in 1971, and then his Masters (1974) and PhD (1976) from the University of Minnesota. Following this he began working as an Assistant Professor at the University of Hawaii in 1976. He rose to Associate Professor in 1982, and full professor in 1987. In 1990 he was the founding editor of the Journal of World History, with Elton Daniel and Daniel Kwok as editorial board members, and Herbert F. Ziegler as the book review editor. The University released a series of monographs on world history, Perspectives on the Global Past, and then became the headquarters for the World History Association. Bentley and Ziegler were also co-authors of the college-level world history textbook Traditions and Encounters which as of 2011 is in its 5th edition.[1]

In 2002, Bentley became the Director at the Center for World History. [2]


  • 1987, President's Citation for Meritorious Teaching [3]
  • 1985, Fujio Matsuda Fellow [4]

Two awards are named for him. The Bentley Book Prize (est. 2012) of the World History Association; and the Jerry Bentley Prize in World History of the American Historical Association (est. 2014).


His research on the religious, moral, and political writings of the Renaissance led to the publication of Humanists and Holy Writ: New Testament Scholarship in the Renaissance (1983) and Politics and culture in Renaissance Naples (1987). His more recent research has concentrated on global history and particularly on processes of cross-cultural interaction.

His book Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (1993) studies processes of cultural exchange and religious conversion before modern times, and his pamphlet Shapes of World History in Twentieth-Century Scholarship (1996) discusses the historiography of world history.

His interests included processes of cross-cultural interaction and cultural exchange in modern times.

In his works, he separates time into the following periods:

  • The early complex societies, 3500 to 500 BCE
  • The formation of classical societies, 500 BCE to 500 CE
  • The postclassical era, 500 to 1000 CE
  • An age of cross-cultural interaction, 1000 to 1500 CE
  • The origins of global interdependence, 1500 to 1800 CE
  • An age of revolution, industry and empire, 1750 to 1914 CE
  • Contemporary global realignments, 1914 to present


  • Journal of World History (editor).
  • Humanists and Holy Writ: New Testament Scholarship in the Renaissance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983).
  • Politics and Culture in Renaissance Naples (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987).
  • Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).
  • (with Herbert F. Ziegler) Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2000); second edition (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2003).
  • "Cross-Cultural Interaction and Periodization in World History," American Historical Review 101 (1996): 749–70.
  • "Hemispheric Integration, 500–1500 C.E.," Journal of World History 9 (1998): 237–54
  • "World History," in D.R. Woolf, ed., Making History: A Global Encyclopedia of Historical Writing (New York: Garland, 1998), pp. 968–70.
  • "Sea and Ocean Basins as Frameworks of Historical Analysis," The Geographical Review 89 (1999): 215–24.
  • "Shapes of World History in Twentieth-Century Scholarship," in Michael P. Adas, ed., Agricultural and Pastoral Societies in Ancient and Classical History (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001), pp. 3–35.
  • "The New World History," in Lloyd Kramer and Sarah Maza, eds., A Companion to Western Historical Thought (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002), pp. 393–416.
  • "World History and Grand Narrative," in Benedikt Stuchtey, ed., Writing World History, 1800–2000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. xx–xx.
  • "Why Study World History?," in World History Connected 5:1(2007), 19 pars.
  • "Europeanization of the World or Globalization of Europe?" Religions 3, no. 2 (2012): 441–454.