Tanner earned her BA, MA, MPhil, and PhD degrees from Yale University. Her career began at Yale by teaching for the department of religious studies. She later moved to the University of Chicago where she served as the Dorothy Grant Maclear Professor of Theology. Afterwards, she returned to teach at her alma mater.
Tanner does constructive Christian theology in both the Catholic and Protestant tradition. Her work addresses contemporary challenges to the Christian faith through the creative use of both the history of Christian thought and interdisciplinary methods, such as critical, social, and feminist theory. Her first book, God and Creation in Christian Theology developed an account of the non-competitive relations between God and creatures. Her next book The Politics of God applies non-competitive relations to the political sphere. Her book Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology explores the relevance of cultural studies for rethinking theological method. She has also written a short systematic text on the Incarnation (Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity) and a text on the economic relevance of Christian beliefs about God (Economy of Grace). Her most recent book, Christ the Key, argues for the centrality of Christ in all theological questions.
Tanner delivered the Warfield Lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary in 2007 and the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 2016, which turns to her 2019 book Christianity and the New Spirit of Capitalism.
- Christianity and the New Spirit of Capitalism (Yale, 2019)
- Christ the Key (Cambridge, 2010)
- Economy of Grace (Fortress, 2005)
- Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity (Fortress, 2001)
- Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology (Fortress, 1997)
- Politics of God: Christian Theologies and Social Justice (Fortress, 1992)
- God and Creation in Christian Theology: Tyranny or Empowerment? (Blackwell, 1988)
- "Kathryn Tanner". Yale Divinity School. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
- Pauw, Amy Plantinga (21 June 2017). "How Kathryn Tanner's theology bridges doctrine and social action". The Christian Century. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
- "Kathryn Tanner | Yale Center for Faith and Culture". faith.yale.edu. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
- Myers, Ben (27 March 2007). "Kathryn Tanner". www.faith-theology.com. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
- "Christianity and the New Spirit of Capitalism". The Gifford Lectures. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
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