John Webster (British theologian)

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John Bainbridge Webster
Born (1955-06-20)20 June 1955
Mansfield, England
Died 25 May 2016(2016-05-25) (aged 60)
Aberdeen, Scotland
Residence Scotland
Nationality British
Occupation Professor, theologian
Title Chair of Divinity
Academic background
Education MA, PhD (Cambridge)
Thesis title Distinguishing Between God and Man: Aspects of the Theology of Eberhard Jüngel
Thesis year 1982
Academic work
Discipline Theology
Institutions Durham University
University of Toronto
University of Oxford
St. Mary's College, University of St Andrews
Main interests systematic, historical and moral theology

John Bainbridge Webster DD FRSE (20 June 1955 – 25 May 2016) was a British theologian of the Anglican Communion writing in the area of systematic, historical, and moral theology. Born in Mansfield, England on 20 June 1955, he was educated at the independent co-educational Bradford Grammar School and at the University of Cambridge. After a distinguished career, he died at his home in Scotland on 25 May 2016 at the age of 60.[1] At the time of his death, he was the Chair of Divinity at St. Mary's College, University of St Andrews, Scotland.[2]


Webster began his career as a chaplain and tutor at St John's College, Durham University (1982–86) and went on to teach systematic theology at Wycliffe College — one of the seven colleges that comprise the Toronto School of Theology, University of Toronto (1986–96) — before becoming the Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford, a prestigious chair in which he was immediately preceded by Rowan Williams who later became Archbishop of Wales (1999–2002) and then Canterbury (2002-2012). During Webster's seven-year tenure at Oxford (1996–2003), he also served as a canon of Christ Church. In 2003, he was installed in the Chair of Systematic Theology at King's College, University of Aberdeen, Scotland. In Summer 2013, he became Chair of Divinity at the University of St Andrews. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2005.[3]

Together with the Reverend Colin Gunton (1940–2003), Webster co-founded the International Journal of Systematic Theology. He was also a member of the editorial boards of the International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church and of the Scottish Journal of Theology Monographs. He was the series editor of The Great Theologians, Barth Studies for Ashgate, and co-editor for the Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology (2007).

Theological commorancy[edit]

His PhD thesis was on the German Lutheran systematic and philosophical theologian Eberhard Jüngel: “Distinguishing Between God and Man: Aspects of the Theology of Eberhard Jüngel” (1982).[4] Subsequently, Webster’s translations and theological interaction with Jüngel are largely responsible for introducing him to the English speaking academy.[5] Through study of Jüngel, Webster became well acquainted with the theology of Karl Barth whom he has written on extensively and developed a unique account of, which stresses the significant role of biblical interpretation and the Reformed tradition in Barth’s work.[6] Jüngel and Barth present important influences on Webster’s own constructive dogmatic work, which offers that the most reliable articulation of Christian truth is that made in shared attention with the Reformation's renewal of Chalcedonian Christianity and guided by the perfect and free God who makes himself the proper object of extended paraphrase by his active self-presentation in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.[7]

In September 2007, Webster delivered the inaugural lectures of the Kantzer Lectures in Revealed Theology moderated by Kevin Vanhoozer through the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

Selected works[edit]


  • Webster, John B. (1982). Distinguishing Between God and Man: Aspects of the Theology of Eberhard Jüngel (PhD). University of Cambridge. 

Translations or works on Eberhard Jüngel[edit]

Works on Karl Barth[edit]

Constructive works[edit]

Exhortative works[edit]

  • ——— (2011). The Grace of Truth. Farmington Hills, MI: Oil Lamp Books. 



  • ——— (2004). "The Holiness and Love of God". Scottish Journal of Theology. 57: 249–68. 
  • ——— (2004). "On Evangelical Ecclesiology". Ecclesiology. 1: 9–35. 
  • ——— (2008). "Biblical Reasoning". Anglican Theological Review. 90: 733–51. 
  • ——— (2009). "Principles of Systematic Theology". International Journal of Systematic Theology. 11: 56–71. 
  • ——— (2010). "Trinity and Creation". International Journal of Systematic Theology. 12: 4–19. 
  • ——— (2015). "Sins of Speech". Studies in Christian Ethics. 28: 35–48. 
  • ——— (2015). "What Makes Theology Theological?". Journal of Analytic Theology. 3: 17–28. 


  1. ^ "Professor John Webster's passing". Archived from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-29. 
  2. ^ "Professor John Webster Appointed to Chair in St Mary's College". 29 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  3. ^ The Royal Society of Edinburgh: The Fellowship, Current Fellows. 18 October 2007. [online]. [Accessed 26 December 2007]. Available from World Wide Web: <
  4. ^ Cambridge University Library Manuscripts & Theses (Newton Catalogue)
  5. ^ Webster, Eberhard Jüngel: An Introduction to His Theology, back cover
  6. ^ see *Webster's personal page
  7. ^ Webster, “Theological Theology." In Confessing God: Essays in Christian Dogmatics II, 20, 26, 29. Cf. Ford, David F. "British Theology After A Trauma: Divisions and Conversations." Christian Century 117 No. 12 (2000): 425-32.

External links[edit]

Links to audio lectures[edit]