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Silvianne Aspray (née Bürki)


Silvianne Bürki is a doctoral candidate in Philosophical Theology at the Divinity Faculty in Cambridge. Her research focuses on the metaphysics of the 16th century Reformation by means of a case study of Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562). In particular, she traces the metamorphoses of a participatory ontology in Vermigli's work, and delineates where its participatory, mediatory and realist elements stand in tension with more univocalist and non-mediatory aspects in his thought. More broadly, her work will contribute to a hermeneutics of the Reformation as an epoch, by addressing how ‘modern’ it was, and what it gave rise to that was – metaphysically speaking – ‘new’. 

Silvianne is being supervised by Prof. Catherine Pickstock and advised by Prof. Alexandra Walsham. She holds a Cambridge International Trust doctoral scholarship. During Michaelmas term 2015 she conducted research at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, where she had been awarded an exchange studentship.

Being a Swiss native, Silvianne took a BA and MA in Theology from Bern University (Faculty prize), and studied for a year in Durham. Before moving to Cambridge in 2013, she was a research assistant both to the Praeses of the Swiss Protestant Churches and to Prof. Peter Opitz (University of Zurich).

Subject area and speciality

Philosophy of Religion specialists:

The Fate of Participatory Ontology in the Reformation


Pembroke College:
Graduate Student


Supervising paper A8 "Philosophy of Religion and Ethics"

Other Professional Activities

Organiser of the Graduate study day in April 2016 on "How to think about being"

Coordinator of the Aquinas Reading Group

Co-editor of the NOESIS Review vol. 2 (2015). NOESIS is the annual review of the Graduate Society for the Study of Philosophical Theology and Systematics, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge.



Article (under review): "Peter Martyr Vermigli's Preces Sacrae (1564) and the problem of prayers as historical sources", Reformation and Renaissance Review.

Essay "'There Can Be No Truth Without a Conversion': Knowledge of God and the Transformation of the Self", Noesis: Theology, Philosophy, Poetics 3 (2016), 26-31.

Review essay “The (Missing) Praxis of Radical Hermeneutics”, on “Minding the Modern” by Thomas Pfau (2015), Syndicate: A New Forum for Theology 2 (2015), 89–94. (online)

Article “Innere und äussere Angelegenheiten im Berner Staatskirchenrecht in historisch-theologischer Sicht”, Schweizerisches Jahrbuch für Kirchenrecht 19 (2014), 81–103.

Essay “Abundance and Simplicity: Participation in Babette's Feast”, Noesis: Theology, Philosophy, Poetics 1 (2014), 16–21.

Book chapter (with Peter Opitz) “Der Heidelberger Katechismus im Kontext zeitgenössischer reformierter Katechismen”, in Handbuch Heidelberger Katechismus, Arnold Huijgen et al. (eds.), (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2014), 184–192.


Review of “The Analogical Turn” by Johannes Hoff (2013) in: Reviews in Religion and Theology 23.1 (2016), 52-55.

Review of “A Philosophy of Christian Materialism” by Christopher Baker, Thomas A. James, John Reader (2015), in: Theology 119.3 (2016), 222-223.

Review of “Minding the Modern” by Thomas Pfau (2015), in: Reviews in Religion and Theology (22.3/2015), 255–259.

Review of “Karlstadt and the Origins of the Eucharistic Controversy” by Amy Nelson Burnett (2011), in: Zwingliana (39/2012), 157–161.


Unpublished Work

“Peter Martyr Vermigli and the Metaphysics of the Reformation”, keynote speech, study day Radical Orthodoxy and Protestantism, University of Nottingham, November 2015.

“Vermigli at Prayer: Genre and Performativity in his Preces Sacrae“, conference paper, Sixteenth Century Society Conference, Vancouver, October 2015.

“Hierarchical Mediation vs. Spiritual Immediacy. Perspectives on Peter Martyr Vermigli's Political Theology”, conference paper, The Protestant Spirit. The Holy Spirit in Protestant Thought 1500-1900, University of Oxford, September 2015.

“‘Liturgical’ Ontology in the Reformation? The Case of Peter Martyr Vermigli”, conference paper, History and Ontology Conference, Delphi, Greece, May 2015.

“Peter Martyr Vermigli's Metaphysics: Continuity or Discontinuity?”, conference paper, Society for Reformation Studies’ Annual Conference, Cambridge, April 2015.

“Complex Causality in Peter Martyr Vermigli”, talk at the Early Modern History Workshop, University Cambridge, February 2015.


Public engagement

"Das Abendmahl als geistliche Praxis für unsere Zeit", Keynote talk at day-conference for vicars and interested laypeople in Basel, March 2016 (see here for an article about the conference, including a link to the manuscript of my talk)

"Was bedeutet eigentlich das Abendmahl?", guest at radio broadcast, Radio Lifechannel, March 2016  

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