Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford
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One of the first series of lectures delivered at Oxford University was on theology. As early as 1193, Alexander Neckham from St Albans gave biblical and moral lectures on the Psalms of David and the Wisdom of Solomon. One of the first university buildings was the Divinity School, begun in 1423 specifically for theology lectures.
The modern theological faculty emerges during the reform of the University of Oxford in the nineteenth century. The Final Honour School of Theology - as a route to the Bachelor of Arts degree - was introduced in 1869. Up until then, theological study was the reserve of graduates and those seeking ordination in the Church of England, who would attend a short series of lectures by the Regius Professors on basic divinity; its focus was on the Thirty-Nine Articles, Joseph Butler's Analogy of Religion and a knowledge of the Greek New Testament. Although an honour school in theology was recommended from as early as 1853, it was not until the late 1860s, amidst concerns about the declining influence of the Established Church in the university, that Edward Pusey and Henry Parry Liddon began to advocate the introduction of a separate School of Theology responsible for the training of Anglican ordinands. Its curriculum was biblical and historical in its focus, with its first examinations requiring knowledge of scripture, ecclesiastical history and patristics, dogmatic and symbolic theology, apologetics, liturgy and sacred criticism.
The faculty remained as a stronghold of the Church of England well into the 20th century, with denominatinal restrictions on the higher theological degrees (the Bachelor of Divinity and the Doctor of Divinity) and examiners in the Final Honour School of Theology only being abolished in 1920 and 1922 respectively. Still, three of the regius professorships are tied to canonries at Christ Church Cathedral, requiring their holders to be in ordained in the Church of England or in a church in communion with the Church of England. A significant proportion of the faculty's students are preparing for ordination, either as candidates for the B.A. or the B.Th.
Despite the faculty's historic obligations to the Church of England, the foundation of Nonconformist and Roman Catholic institutions in Oxford from the late 19th century onwards, alongside changing academic and ecclesiastical attitudes towards theological study, resulted in the gradual transformation of theology from a purely professional discipline into an aspect of humanistic study.
During the 20th century, Oxford established itself as an internationally significant centre of theological study with important contributions from S. R. Driver, William Sanday, H. B. Swete, C. H. Turner, B. H. Streeter, N. P. Williams, R. H. Lightfoot, G. R. Driver, Austin Farrer, Maurice Wiles, Henry Chadwick, James Barr and Arthur Peacocke. Although the department has, more recently, introduced examination papers in modern systematic theology, world religions and even separate postgraduate masters degrees in the study of religion, the Final Honour School of Theology remains primarily focused on biblical and historical study. Each undergraduate devotes at least half of his or her degree to the study of the Old Testament, New Testament, the development of Christian doctrine to AD 451 and modern Christian doctrine. Candidates can then choose four further papers from a wide selection of topics in biblical studies, history, doctrine and world religions.
The following statutory professorships are held in conjunction with a canonry of Christ Church: the professor must be ordained in priest’s orders in the Church of England or in an episcopal church in communion with the Church of England, or eligible for and prepared to accept ordination.
- Regius Professor of Divinity - The Reverend Canon Graham Ward
- Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity - The Reverend Canon George Pattison
- Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology - The Reverend Nigel Biggar
The following statutory professorship is held in conjunction with a canonry of Christ Church: the professor must be ordained in priest’s orders in the Church of England or in an episcopal church in communion with the Church of England, or eligible for and prepared to accept ordination; alternatively, in accordance the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1995 §2, the professorship may be held in conjunction with a lay canonry: the professor must be a lay member of the Church of England, or of any church in communion with it, or a minister or lay member of a church not in communion with the Church of England provided he or she is a suitably qualified member of one of the churches to which the Church of England (Ecumenical Relations) Measure 1988 refers.
- Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History: Sarah Foot
- Regius Professor of Hebrew (attached to a Studentship at Christ Church): Hugh Williamson
- Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture (attached to a fellowship at Oriel): The Reverend Canon John Barton
- Dean Ireland's Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture (attached to a fellowship at The Queen's College): The Reverend Christopher Rowland
- Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion (attached to a fellowship at Oriel): Brian Leftow
- Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion (attached to a fellowship at Harris Manchester): Alister McGrath (formerly Peter Harrison)
- John Day: Professor of Old Testament Studies (fellow of Lady Margaret Hall)
- The Reverend Paul Fiddes: Professor of Systematic Theology (principal emeritus and professorial research fellow of Regent's Park)
- Martin Goodman: Professor of Jewish Studies (fellow of Wolfson)
- Diarmaid MacCulloch: Professor of the History of the Church (fellow of St Cross)
- The Reverend Christopher Tuckett: Professor of New Testament Studies (fellow of Pembroke)