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Prof Paul D Murray
(email at email@example.com)
I am a lay Roman Catholic systematic theologian who joined the Department in September 2002. Previous posts have included teaching systematic theology at St Cuthbert’s Seminary, Ushaw (the Roman Catholic seminary for the north of England) and at Newman College of Higher Education, Birmingham. Before this, I had a period working as an Adult Christian Educator within the Department of Pastoral Formation of the Archdiocese of Liverpool. As from January 2007 I will be responsible for co-ordinating the Department of Theology and Religion’s MA in Theology and Religion and have, thus far, been particularly associated with the development of a pathway in Catholic Studies through this programme. In addition, I co-ordinate the Durham Catholic Theology Research Seminar and am the Director of the Durham Catholic Learning and Receptive Ecumenism Research Project (part-funded by the British Academy) which will lead to the publication of a major related edited volume by Oxford University Press in late 2007.
I studied my first degree in Theology here in Durham between 1983 and 1986. I then returned in 1987 to study a research MA by thesis on the soteriology of Karl Rahner for which I was awarded the higher degree of M.Litt in 1990. Whilst having reacted somewhat against Rahner in this piece of work, I continue to be influenced by many of his theological instincts and sensitivities, as is evident in various recent essays of mine in the area of contemporary Catholic theology (see below).
In turn, my doctoral research at the University of Cambridge (Selwyn College) in the period 1993-1996 focussed on issues of non-/post-foundationalism as they figure alike in contemporary American pragmatist thought and contemporary theology. This work culminated in the publication of a number of essays and, in 2004, a monograph – Reason, Truth and Theology in Pragmatist Perspective – in the Studies in Philosophical Theology Series with Peeters of Leuven. Although this work starts out with issues in epistemology, rationality and fundamental theology, it ends up touching on ecclesiologically related matters. The connection lies in the dual fact that: a) the place in which matters of truth, reason, decision making and discernment are, in practice, handled within the Christian tradition is in the life of the Church and b) our handling of matters of truth and reason are precisely, as the pragmatist tradition recognises, matters of practice and not just theory. In this way, my earlier work has led me onto my current writing project which I am provisionally entitling Catholicism Transfigured: A Political Theology of the Church. I envisage this leading to the publication of a further monograph in 2009.
This current interest in ecclesiology, the practice of Church and the dynamics of ecclesial development is also reflected in my MA module on Conceiving Change in Contemporary Catholicism which contributes to the specialist pathway in Catholic Studies through the Department’s MA in Theological Research. Similarly, such interests are reflected in the postgraduate students whose research I currently supervise, both on the PhD and the Doctor of Ministry programmes. Current topics include: the relevance of democratic theory to Catholic ecclesiology and practice; the articulation of a Methodist political theology; changing patterns of lay ministry within contemporary Catholicism; the changing self-understanding and ministry of secular priests within contemporary Catholicism; models of the ‘emerging church’ and the theology of the diaconate in post-Vatican II Catholic theology.
I would be only too happy to engage in email correspondence with further potential doctoral candidates who may wish to pursue related projects and areas of interest, as, indeed, other issues within contemporary Catholic theology and philosophical and systematic theology more generally.
As regards my broader theological interests, my undergraduate teaching ranges across modules in Christology, theology of creation, fundamental theology, Trinity and Church. With this, I have long been interested both in political theology and in the theology and science interface, although these interests are a little dormant at present. In previous posts, I have organised major international conferences on the themes Global Capitalism and the Gospel of Justice: Politics, Economics and the UK Churches (Ushaw College 2001) and Proclaiming the Gospel of Justice in a World of Global Capitalism: The Future of Political Theology (Newman College 1999), the papers from which were published in various places (see below). Similarly, along with a team of other UK-based Templeton course prize winners (for courses exploring the science-religion interfaces), I devised and contributed to God, Humanity and the Cosmos: A Textbook in Science and Religion, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1999) which has now gone into a revised and expanded second edition as a standard companion to the area (Continuum, 2005).
As regards broader networks, my research activities bring me into close contact with various lively national and international networks of academics working in related areas. For example, I was from 2003-2005 Treasurer of the Society for the Study of Theology and now act as the joint convenor of the newly established Ecclesiological Investigations Seminar at the Society’s annual conference. I serve on the Committee of the Catholic Theology Association of Great Britain and also on the Steering Committee for the Ecclesiological Investigations Research Network. Beyond this, I have recently been elected to the Board of Directors of the international theological journal Concilium.
- Murray, Paul D. (2004). Reason, truth and theology in pragmatist perspective. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters.
- Murray, Paul D (2012). ‘Discerning the Dynamics of Doctrinal Development: a Post-foundationalist Perspective’. In Faithful Reading: New Essays in Theology in Honour of Fergus Kerr, OP. Oliver, Simon Kilby, Karen & O’Loughlin, Tom T&T Clark. 193-220.
- Murray, Paul D (2012). ‘The Ups and Downs, Highs and Lows, and Practicalities of Ecclesiological Analysis with Edward Schillebeeckx’. In Sacramentalizing Human History: In Honour of Edward Schillebeeckx (1914-2009). Borgman, Erik, Murray, Paul D & Queiruga, Andrés Torres SCM Press. Concilium International (2012/1): 70-91.
Edited works: contributions
- Murray, Paul D. (2005). Roman Catholic theology after Vatican II. In The modern theologians an introduction to Christian theology since 1918. Ford, David F. & Muers, Rachel. Oxford: Blackwell. 265-286.
Journal papers: academic
- Murray, Paul D (2013). 'Searching the Living Truth of the Church in Practice: On the Transformative Task of Systematic Ecclesiology'. Modern Theology
- Murray. Paul D (2011). ‘Expanding Catholicity through Ecumenicity in the Work of Yves Congar: Ressourcement, Receptive Ecumenism, and Catholic Reform’. International Journal of Systematic Theology 13(3): 272-302.
- Murray, Paul D (2010). 'St. Paul and Ecumenism: Justification and All That’. New Blackfriars 91(1032): 142-170.
- Murray, Paul D. (2007). Theology 'Under the Lash' Theology as Idolatry Critique in the Work of Nicholas Lash. New Blackfriars 88(1013): 4-24.
- Murray, Paul D. (2006). On Valuing Truth in Practice Rome's Postmodern Challenge. International Journal of Systematic Theology 8(2): 163-183.
- Murray, Paul D. (2004). “The Lasting Significance of Karl Rahner for Contemporary Catholic Theology”. Louvain Studies 29(1-2): 8-27.