British Academy/Leverhulme Fellowship

Professor Johannes Zachhuber , Fellow and Tutor in Theology, has been awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Fellowship for 2017-18.

The fellowship will allow Professor Zachhuber to pursue his research on philosophical ideas developed in the writings of the Church Fathers between the fourth and the eighth centuries.

Studying famous texts debating theological topics by thinkers such as Gregory of Nyssa (335–394), Maximus Confessor (580–662), and John of Damascus (676–749), as well as others who are less-well known, he is focusing on underlying philosophical assumptions and principles, with the aim of showing that genuinely theological debates led to fundamental, even revolutionary philosophical transformations and innovations during this period.

Scholarship on the relationship between Christianity and the philosophical tradition in late antiquity has recently begun to recognise the Church Fathers themselves as philosophers whose interests in cosmology and psychology matched those of their non-Christian peers. Professor Zachhuber’s research is part of this growing field of Patristic philosophy, but pushes its boundaries by showing the philosophical significance even of those Christian debates that have no – or at least no obvious – parallel outside Christianity simply because they deal with doctrinal problems that by definition were specific to the Christian faith.

Professor Zachhuber intends to shine new light on the role and significance of Christian thought within the intellectual context of late antiquity and beyond. Christianity will appear as neither opposing philosophy nor passively receiving already existing concepts, but instead as transforming existing ideas and concepts and thereby producing its own germane type of philosophy which, while historically connected with pre-existing philosophical traditions, is clearly distinct from them in some of its most fundamental assumptions.

The results of Professor Zachhuber’s research will be published in a book provisionally entitled The Rise of Christian Theology and the End of Ancient Metaphysics.

Posted: 25 May 2017

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