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Dr Ruth Jackson

Dr Ruth Jackson

Research Fellow at CRASSH (Project on the Bible and Antiquity in 19th-Century Culture)


PhD in Theology and Religious Studies, Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge (2016)

MPhil in Theology and Religious Studies, Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge, (2010). Distinction.

MA (Cantab) Theology and Religious Studies, Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge (2006-2009). 1st Class.

Subject area and speciality

Christian Theology specialists:

The themes of temporality and dependence in Friedrich Schleiermacher's theological and philosophical writings

Philosophy of Religion specialists:

The themes of temporality and dependence in Friedrich Schleiermacher's theological and philosophical writings. 


Corpus Christi College:
PhD Candidate

Research Interests

My PhD Thesis was entitled 'Freedom, Formation, and Human Particularity: The Roots of Friedrich Schleiermacher’s Theology of Finitude'.  

It examines a selection of early ethical texts by Friedrich Schleiermacher, written between 1789 and 1800. The thesis contends that in these texts, Schleiermacher develops an account of human identity which contributed fruitfully to his theology and to his understanding of religion. In these early projects, some never completed and little regarded by theologians and philosophers of religion, we see Schleiermacher coming to stress the particularity and placed nature of human existence. Human beings, Schleiermacher maintains, are inherently social creatures, whose identities are formed over the course of time and mediated through language. In these texts we also find Schleiermacher experimenting with different literary forms — the soliloquy, the dialogue, the epistolary novella, and the ironical fragment. His use of such forms, I argue, is not incidental but part of his exploration of human particularity. As a whole, my thesis proposes an alternative to the prevalent reading of Schleiermacher in Anglo-American scholarship, that he is an subjectivist thinker who reduces religion to a function of individual self-consciousness. Indeed, by using my analysis of these early ethical texts to inform our approach to Schleiermacher’s account of the religious life, l argue that he maintains his attention to the inherently social and placed nature of human existence. In doing so, I contend, he respects divine transcendence and the limits of human knowledge, and avoids dissolving theology into anthropology.





MPhil: In 2014-15 I was the MPhil Co-ordinator in Modern Theology. 

Undergraduate Supervision
: I teach the following Tripos papers:

A8 (Philosophy and Ethics) – a paper designed to give first year undergraduates an introduction to the major themes and questions about language, knowledge, and being, which arise at the intersection between philosophy and theology. 

B8 (Theology I) – a core course in Christian Theology for second-year undergraduates, which includes texts from Aquinas, Augustine, Luther, Barth and Schleiermacher.

B11 (Ethics and Faith) – a course which follows on from paper A8, and through which students learn about the main trajectory of the moral philosophy tradition, by studying of texts from Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Montaigne, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Bradley and Wittgenstein.  

D1d (The Doctrine of God: Love and Desire) A paper for third-year students, which is examined through two 5000-word coursework essays, and taught through supervision and seminar sessions. We look at a number of texts, including pieces from: Dante; Bernard of Clairvaux; Aquinas; Augustine; Catherine of Siena. 


Undergraduate Lecturing: I give a course of 4 lectures in the faculty, on the life and work of Friedrich Schleiermacher. The series is part of the taught course for paper B8, which is aimed at second-year undergraduate students.  


Other Professional Activities

Cambridge Festival of Ideas, October 2014

Last Autumn, I gave a public lecture entitled 'The Fixed Image and the Created Self: Photographs and Flip-books from a Religious Perspective'. See more here


The Merleau-Ponty Reading Group

I co-organise a Reading Group with another Divinity PhD Student, Simon Ravenscroft. We meet fortnightly during term in order to discuss essays from the French philosopher Merleau-Ponty, in tandem with pieces from other 20th century phenomenologists.  The group's conversations have benefitted richly from the Colloquium which Simon and I organised in December 2013, on the theme 'Merleau-Ponty and Theology'. Our keynote speakers were Rowan Williams, Spike Bucklow, Oliver Soskice and Orion Edgar. More details about the event are available here.

The Coleridge Society: I am a co-convenor for The Coleridge Society, which is an interdisciplinary forum for encouraging discussion across literature, history, political theory, theology and philosophy. Meetings are held termly at Jesus College. They are centred upon a talk given by an invited speaker, and are open to to postgraduate students and senior members of any Faculty or College in Cambridge. 

At our Easter Term 2014 meeting, Dr Christopher Burlinson gave a talk entitled 'Penance and Grace: Geoffrey Hill and the Theology of Close Reading. In Michaelmas Term, were joined by Dr Martin Ruehl (Trinity Hall). He spoke for us on 'Zarathustra in the Trenches: Nietzsche, World War I, and Anglo-German Relations'.




Article: 'Photography, Finitude and the Human Self through Time', Telos, forthcoming, 2016.

Article: ‘Creation, Temporality and the Lord’s Supper in Friedrich Schleiermacher’s Dogmatic Theology’, Theology,  Vol. 116, (September/October 2013), pp.332-340. 

Book Review: Embedded Grace: Christ, History, and the Reign of God in Schleiermacher’s Dogmatics, by Kevin M. Vander Schel. Reviews in Religion and Theology, Vol. 21, Issue 3, (July 2014): 410-412.

Book Review: Merleau-Ponty and Theology, by Christopher Ben Simpson, Reviews in Religion and Theology, Vol. 21, Issue 3, (July 2014): 391-393.

Book Review: 'Spaces of Modern Theology: Geography and Power in Schleiermacher's World', by Stephen Jungkeit, Radical Orthodoxy: Theology, Philosophy, Politics, Vol 2, No 2, (Spring 2014).  

Review Essay: 'Imaging in media res (a review of 'Only in England: Photographs by Tony Ray Jones and Martin Parr), Noesis: Theology, Philosophy, Poetics, Vol. 1, 2014.  

Book Review: Theology and Philosophy; Faith and Reason’, edited by Crisp, D’Costa, Davies and Hampson, Colloquium, The Australian and New Zealand Theological Review, November 2013. 

Book Review:  ‘Schleiermacher and Religious Feeling’, by Geoffrey Dumbreck, Colloquium, The Australian and New Zealand Theological Review, November 2013. 

Review Essay: ‘Thomas Aquinas; A Portrait’, by Denys Turner, The Cambridge Humanities Review, Issue 4, Easter 2013.

Book Review:  ‘The Face of God’, by Roger Scruton, Colloquium, The Australian and New Zealand Theological Review, November 2012.

Review Essay: ‘The Lion’s World, A Journey into the Heart of Narnia’, by Rowan Williams, The Cambridge Humanities Review, Issue 2, Michaelmas 2012.

Review Essay (online) : 'The Problem of Pleasure: Modernism and its Discontents', by Laura Frost, Review21 (available here).


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Festival of Ideas - Debating Philosophy of Religion

Oct 19, 2016

Workshop for students in Years 11,12, and 13: Saturday 22 November, 11am-1pm.

Vacancy: Fixed Term Research Associate in Theology and Science

Oct 12, 2016

The Faculty of Divinity of the University of Cambridge wishes to appoint a Research Associate to this project on Theology and Science.

Festival of Ideas - The New Cambridge Mosque Panel Discussion

Oct 07, 2016

As part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas, Cambridge Inter-faith Programme is a hosting a panel discussion event on Saturday 22nd October.

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