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Durham University

Centre for Catholic Studies


The Bede Chair of Catholic Theology

(3 June 2013)

Prof. Karen Kilby, Bede Proffessor of Catholic Theology

The Centre for Catholic Studies, Durham University is delighted to announce the appointment of Prof. Karen Kilby, currently of the University of Nottingham, as the new Bede Professor of Catholic Theology. Prof. Kilby, will take up post in January 2014.


A native of Connecticut, Prof. Kilby studied Mathematics and Theology at Yale and Cambridge, completing her PhD on Karl Rahner under Kathryn Tanner and George Lindbeck. After holding a Gifford postdoctoral research fellowship at St Andrews she taught at Birmingham, and then, since 2001, at Nottingham, where she also served for three and a half years as Head of the Theology and Religious Studies Department.


In her research and writing Prof. Kilby has engaged closely with two of the major twentieth century Catholic theologians, Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar and is the author of three highly regarded monographs: Balthasar: a (very) critical introduction (Eerdmans, 2012); A Brief Introduction to Karl Rahner (SPCK, 2007); and Karl Rahner: Theology and Philosophy (2004). In addition to 20th century Catholic theology, Prof. Kilby is interested in a range of themes in systematic theology, including in particular the doctrine of the Trinity and the place of mystery in Christian thought. She served for a period as review editor of the International Journal of Systematic Theology, as one of the editors of the Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology (2011), and, from 2010-2012, as President of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain. She has been a member of the Nottingham Diocese’s Ecclesiastical Education Commission, and works, alongside Anna Rowlands, with CAFOD as part of its Theology Reference Group.


She says of her appointment:


“It is a great honour to take up the Bede Chair in Catholic Theology. I am delighted to have a role which allows me not only to work with top students and colleagues in an academic context – and I know of no context better than Durham in which to study theology – but also to engage more widely with the church in this area.


I have supervised widely, on topics ranging from liberation theology, to Lonergan, to mothering, to MacIntyre, and I very much look forward to engaging with the diversity of work that goes in the Centre for Catholic Studies. I am hoping in my own research in the next few years to pursue two themes which have begun to interest me recently: the relation of theology to mathematics, and the question of how suffering is thought of in Christian theology.”


The Bede Chair is the first endowed Chair of Catholic Theology within a secular UK university, the result of a creative partnership between the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, religious orders and a private trust. The holder of the Bede Chair, a leading Catholic theologian of international repute, is also involved in a wide range of outreach activities.