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Professor Paul Murray

Professor of Systematic Theology

Professor of Systematic Theology in the Department of Theology and Religion+44 (0) 191 33 43947


I am a systematic theologian who joined the Department in September 2002. Since 2008 I have also served as the Director of the Centre for Catholic Studies (CCS) within the Department. The CCS is the UK’s first permanent centre devoted to pioneering research and teaching in Catholic theology in the public academy.

Following a Durham BA in Theology (1983-1986) and a Durham M.Litt thesis on the soteriology of Karl Rahner (1987-1988), my Cambridge doctoral research (1993-1996) focused on issues of 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. Although this work starts out with issues in epistemology, rationality and fundamental theology, it ends up touching on ecclesiological issues. 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, 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: Conceiving Change in the Church.

This current interest in ecclesiology, ecclesial practice, 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.

Closely related to my current ecclesiological interests is a series of research projects and international conferences in Receptive Ecumenism (a fresh strategy for Christian ecumenism that takes long-term difference seriously), of which I am the initiator and Director.

My wider teaching and research interests – in all of which areas I have supervised and/or co-supervised research students – range from the interface between science and theology, political theology, the doctrine of God, and contemporary Catholic theology. I am very happy to engage in email correspondence with further potential research students interested in pursuing related projects.

As regards broader networks, I am a regular participant in the annual conferences of the Society for the Study of Theology (Treasurer 2003-2005) and the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain (President 2012-2014) and an occasional participant in the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion. From 2006-2011 I served on the Editorial Board of Concilium International. In 2011 I was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to the third phase of work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III) and in 2012 as a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.


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Supervision students