skip to content

Faculty of Divinity


Simeon Zahl is Professor of Christian Theology in the Faculty of Divinity. He is an historical and constructive theologian whose research interests span the period from 1500 to the present. His most recent monograph is on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. It proposes a new account of the work of the Spirit in salvation through the lens of affect and embodiment (Oxford University Press, 2020). 


Christian Theology subject specialist



Professor Zahl received his first degree in German History and Literature from Harvard, and his doctorate in Theology from Cambridge. Following his doctorate, he held a post-doc in Cambridge followed by a research fellowship at St John’s College, Oxford. Prior to his return to Cambridge he was Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Nottingham.




Professor Zahl's recent research has focused on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the place of experience and emotion in Christian religious life, and the theological legacy of the Protestant Reformation. Further research interests include Augustine, nineteenth-century theology, and the contributions to theology of affect theory and cognitive science. He is currently working on a new book on the theology of sin and its contemporary relevance.

From 2018-2022, he was Principal Investigator on the project Affect and Knowledge-Production in Theology and Religious Studies, funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation. The project was a collaboration with Prof. Donovan Schaefer at the University of Pennsylvania.



Key publications: 



Zahl, S. (2020). The Holy Spirit and Christian Experience. Oxford University Press.

Zahl, S. (2010). Pneumatology and Theology of the Cross in the Preaching of Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt. T&T Clark/Continuum.


Journal Articles 

Zahl, S. (2023). 'Play and Freedom: Patterns of Life in the Spirit', International Journal of Systematic Theology (early view, open access)

Zahl, S. (2021). ‘Beyond the Critique of Soteriological Individualism: Relationality and Social Cognition’, Modern Theology 37(2)

Zahl, S. (2020). ‘Sin and Bodily Illness in the Psalms’, Horizons in Biblical Theology 42(2): 186-207

Zahl, S. (2020). ‘Incongruous Grace as Pattern of Experience’, International Journal of Systematic Theology 22(1): 60-76. 

Zahl, S. (2019). ‘Non-Competitive Agency and Luther’s Experiential Argument Against Virtue’, Modern Theology 35(2): 199-222.

Zahl, S. (2019). ‘Engineering Desire: Biotechnological Enhancement as Theological Problem’, Studies in Christian Ethics 32(2): 216-228.

Zahl, S. (2018). ‘Tradition and its “Use”: The Ethics of Theological Retrieval’, Scottish Journal of Theology 71(3): 308-323.

Zahl, S. (2018). ‘Revisiting the “Nature of Protestantism”: Justification by Faith Five Hundred Years On’, New Blackfriars 99(1080): 129-146.

Zahl, S. (2015). ‘On the Affective Salience of Doctrines’, Modern Theology 31(3): 428-44.

Zahl, S. (2010). 'Rethinking “Enthusiasm”: Christoph Blumhardt on the Discernment of the Spirit’, International Journal of Systematic Theology 12(3): 341-363.


Book Chapters

Zahl, S. (2017). ‘Experience’, in The Oxford Handbook of Nineteenth Century Christian Thought. Oxford University Press.

Zahl, S. (2016). ‘The Bondage of the Affections: Willing, Feeling, and Desiring in Luther’s Theology, 1513-25’ in The Spirit, Affectivity, and the Christian Tradition. University of Notre Dame Press.

Zahl, S. (2014). ‘The Drama of Agency: Affective Augustinianism and Galatians’ in Galatians and Christian Theology. Baker Academic.

Zahl, S. (2013). ‘Atonement’ in The Oxford Handbook of Theology and Modern European Thought. Oxford University Press.


Edited Volumes

Muers, R., Greggs, T., and Zahl, S. (2013). The Vocation of Theology Today. Cascade.

Ford, D.F., Higton, M., and Zahl, S. (2011). The Modern Theologians Reader. Wiley-Blackwell.


Teaching and Supervisions



Paper B8: Christ, Salvation, and the Trinity

Paper C16: The Holy Spirit and Christian Experience


The Christian God


Research supervision: 


Professor Zahl is open to supervising doctoral research in most major areas of Christian theology. Topics of particular interest include the Holy Spirit, salvation, affect and emotion, the intellectual history of Protestantism, Martin Luther, the doctrine of sin, and the significance of embodiment for theological knowledge-production.


Other Professional Activities

Professor Zahl is co-editor, with Rachel Muers and Ashley Cocksworth, of the Cambridge Elements in Christian Doctrine series for Cambridge University Press.

Professor of Christian Theology

Contact Details

Email address: 
Takes PhD students
Not available for consultancy