Marilyn McCord Adams

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The Reverend
Marilyn McCord Adams
Born Marilyn McCord
(1943-10-12)October 12, 1943
United States
Died March 22, 2017(2017-03-22) (aged 73)
Princeton, New Jersey, United States
Cause of death Cancer
Nationality American
Alma mater
Spouse(s) Robert Merrihew Adams (m. 1966)
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
Main interests

Marilyn McCord Adams (October 12, 1943 – March 22, 2017)[1][2] was an American philosopher and priest of the Episcopal Church. She specialised in philosophy of religion, philosophical theology and medieval philosophy.


Adams was the daughter of William Clark McCord and Wilmah Brown McCord. In 1966, she married the philosopher Robert Merrihew Adams.


Adams was educated at the University of Illinois (AB); Cornell University (PhD 1967); and Princeton Theological Seminary (ThM 1984, 1985); and holds the degree of Doctor of Divinity from the University of Oxford (2008).[3]


Adams was Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University. Before that she was, in reverse chronological order, Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University, the Horace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology at Yale University, and a Professor of Philosophy at UCLA. She was also a former President of the Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy.[4] She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2015.[5]

Adams was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America in 1987, and from 2004-09[6] was residentiary canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.

Work and writing[edit]

Marilyn McCord Adams speaking in 2007

Adams' work in philosophy focused on the philosophy of religion, especially the problem of evil, philosophical theology, metaphysics and medieval philosophy. Her work on the problem of evil largely focused on what she calls "horrendous evils".[7] She was an avowed Christian universalist, believing that ultimately all will receive salvation and restoration in Christ:

Traditional doctrines of hell err again by supposing either that God does not get what God wants with every human being ("God wills all humans to be saved" by God's antecedent will) or that God deliberately creates some for ruin. To be sure, many human beings have conducted their ante-mortem lives in such a way as to become anti-social persons. Almost none of us dies with all the virtues needed to be fit for heaven. Traditional doctrines of hell suppose that God lacks the will or the patience or the resourcefulness to civilize each and all of us, to rear each and all of us up into the household of God. They conclude that God is left with the option of merely human penal systems – viz., liquidation or quarantine![8]


Adams died on March 22, 2017, after a battle with cancer in Princeton, New Jersey, aged 73.[9]


  • Adams, Marilyn McCord. Christ and Horrors: The Coherence of Christology. Based on the Gifford Lectures for 1998-1999. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-521-68600-8
  • Adams, Marilyn McCord. Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8014-8686-6. [10]
  • Adams, Marilyn McCord. "Is the Existence of God a 'Hard' Fact?". The Philosophical Review Vol. LXXVI, No. 4 (October 1967) 492-503.
  • Adams, Marilyn McCord, trans. Paul of Venice, On the Truth and Falsity of Propositions and On the Significatum of a Proposition, ed. Francesco del Punta. London: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 1977.
  • Adams, Marilyn McCord, and Robert Merrihew Adams, eds. The Problem of Evil. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.
  • Adams, Marilyn McCord and Norman Kretzman, eds. and trans. William Ockham's Predestination, God's Foreknowledge, and Future Contingents. 2nd ed. Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett, 1983.
  • Adams, Marilyn McCord. Some Later Medieval Theories of the Eucharist: Thomas Aquinas, Giles of Rome, Duns Scotus, and William Ockham. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • Adams, Marilyn McCord. "What Sort of Human Nature? Medieval Philosophy and the Systematics of Christology" (Aquinas Lecture 1999). Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1999.
  • Adams, Marilyn McCord. William of Ockham (2 vols.) Notre Dame, Indiana: Notre Dame University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-268-01945-2

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Obituary of Rev. Dr. Marilyn Adams". Retrieved 2017-03-28. 
  2. ^ Adams, Robert (31 March 2017). "Marilyn McCord Adams obituary" – via The Guardian. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-08. Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  5. ^ "Rutgers Philosopher Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences | Media Relations". 2015-05-12. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  6. ^ "Mccord Adams appointed patron of No Anglican Covenant Coalition", Episcopal News Service, February 14, 2012; retrieved October 9, 2013.
  7. ^ Marilyn McCord Adams. Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God (Cornell Studies in the Philosophy of Religion). ISBN 9780801486869. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  8. ^ Cited by Richard Beck: "Christ and Horrors, Part 3: Horror Defeat, Universalism, and God's Reputation", Experimental Theology, March 19, 2007.
  9. ^ "Marilyn McCord Adams (1943-2017)". Daily Nous. 2017-03-22. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  10. ^ Thomas J. CurryFollow (2012-10-01). ""Babette's Feast and the Goodness of God" by Thomas J. Curry". Archived from the original on 2013-02-15. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Arthur Hyman
President of the
Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

Succeeded by
John F. Wippel
Preceded by
Keith Ward
Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford
Succeeded by
Graham Ward