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Department of Theology and Religion

Profiles

Emeritus Professor Andrew Louth

Emeritus Professor of Patristic and Byzantine Studies in the Department of Theology and Religion

(email at andrew.louth@durham.ac.uk)

Biography

I have been in Durham since 1996, for most of the time as Professor of Patristic and Byzantine Studies. Before that I taught in Oxford University (mostly patristics, that is early Christian theology) and in Goldsmiths College in the University of London (mostly Byzantine and early Medieval history). Before that I studied at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh Mathematics, Theology and a thesis on Karl Barth. I teach courses on the history and theology of the Christian Church, in particular an undergraduate module on the impact of the rise of Islam on mostly Greek Christianity in the eastern Mediterranean, and an MA module on the understanding of what it is to be human in early Christian theology.

My research interests lie mostly in the history of theology in the Greek tradition, mostly in periods later than what is generally studied in English universities: that is, after the fifth century, in the period of the Byzantine Empire (up to 1453), but also later, especially in the modern period (nineteenth century and later), where my research interests also include Russian and Romanian (Orthodox) theology. This interest also embraces the philosophical traditions (often called 'Neoplatonic') of the Byzantine period. My interest in the theology of these periods is not purely historical, since I regard dialogue with the theological writers of the past as a resource for theological reflection today. Within this tradition (what one might broadly think of as '(Eastern) Orthodox'), theology is not separated from prayer and spirituality: the God whom we seek to understand is the God to whom we pray.

So - in Western terms - I am interested in what is often called 'mysticism'. My books include: Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition: from Plato to Denys, Discerning the mystery: an essay on the nature of theology, books on Dionysios (or Denys) the Areopagite, Maximos the Confessor, and John Damascene, and on the tradition of desert spirituality in the Christian tradition, both east and west (The Wilderness of God, republished in a revised edition in 2003). I have just finished a book in a series on the history of the Christian Church over the last two thousand years: Greek East and Latin West: the Church AD 681-1071.

I have several research projects at the moment, the main one being a major reappraisal of the life and significance of Gregory Palamas, the great fourteenth-century Byzantine theologian; other research projects include an attempt to clarify the 'lay' or 'humanistic' tradition in later Byzantine theology (from Photios to Bessarion), and a study of the notion of love in eastern and western Christian traditions. I am also a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church (and Orthodox chaplain to Durham University), editor of the journal Sobornost, and editor, with Professor Gillian Clark of Bristol University, of the series Oxford Early Christian Studies.

Research Interests

  • Byzantine art, iconography and ceremonial
  • Byzantine theology, esp. Maximos the Confessor
  • Orthodox theology and spirituality
  • Patristics, esp. Greek
  • Spirituality and mysticism, esp. Christian

Publications

  • Louth A (2000). Many chapters in Patrologia V. Padri orientali dal Concilio di Calcedonia (451) a Giovanni Damasceno (d.750), ed. Angelo di Berardino. Marietti, Genoa 75pp
  • Louth A (2000). Wisdom of the Byzantine Church: Evagrios of Pontos and Maximos the Confessor. 1997 Paine Lectures in Religion 45pp
  • Louth A (1997). 'St. John Damascene: Preacher and Poet' in Preacher and Audience: Studies in Early Christian and Byzantine Homiletics ed. Pauline Allen and Mary Cunningham. Brill: Leiden 247-66
  • Louth A (1996). Maximus the Confessor. Routledge x+230

Books: authored

Edited works: contributions

Journal papers: academic

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Religion: Patristic and Byzantine theology
  • Religion: Eastern Orthodox theology
  • Middle Ages & Early Modern History: Byzantine history
  • Art: Byzantine art