George Christopher Stead

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Rev. George Christopher Stead (April 9, 1913 – May 28, 2008) was the last Ely Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. He is best known for his work on the philosophy of the Church Fathers, his 1977 book Divine Substance being widely cited among Patristic scholars. He studied under G.E. Moore and Ludwig Wittgenstein while an undergraduate at Cambridge. He was a Priest and Canon of the Diocese of Ely in the Church of England, having also served briefly as Curate of St. John's, Newcastle upon Tyne in 1939.

Stead was particularly interested in the application of the Aristotelian concept of substance (ousia) to Christian theology and in the use of the term 'homoousios' initially in a context deemed heretical (Paul of Samosata) by the Council of Antioch, subsequently more authoritatively by the Council of Nicaea (325 A. D.) but in turn giving rise to over half a century of heated discussion. Stead's interest (taking in on route Marius Victorinus and Gregory of Nyssa) extended to Augustine and John Philoponus' use of the concept.

Academic career[edit]


  • Kategorienlehre, Reallexikon fûr Antike und Christentum, Band XX, Stuttgart,2004.
  • Doctrine and Philosophy in Early Christianity (ISBN 086078830X), 2000
  • Philosophy in Christian Antiquity (ISBN 978-0521469555), 1996
  • Philosophie und Theologie I: Die Zeit der Alten Kirche (Theologische Wissenschaft) (ISBN 978-3170089242), 1990
  • Substance and Illusion in the Christian Fathers (ISBN 978-0860781721), 1985
  • Divine Substance (ISBN 0198266308), 1977
  • Festschrift: Christian Faith and Greek Philosophy in Late Antiquity: Essays in Tribute to George Christopher Stead, Ed. L.R. Wickham & C.P. Bammel (ISBN 9004096051), 1993
  • Also: The Birth of the Steam Locomotive (ISBN 978-1902702087), 2002