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Professor Sarah Coakley

Professor Sarah Coakley

Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity

Fellow, Murray Edwards College

Philosophy of Religion subject specialist

Office Phone: 01223 763020


Prof. Coakley took up her current appointment at Cambridge in 2007. She received her first degree in Theology at Cambridge, before doing initial graduate work at Harvard (as a Harkness Fellow), and her doctoral work at Cambridge on the Christology of Ernst Troeltsch. Appointed to her first position at the University of Lancaster while still writing her doctorate, she later taught at Oriel College, Oxford (in Theology and Philosophy of Religion), and at Harvard Divinity School, where she was Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr., Professor of Divinity, 1995-2007. 

Research Interests

Prof. Coakley teaches modern and contemporary Philosophy of Religion in the faculty, and has an interest in combining both analytic and continental traditions in her own research, whilst also charting the connections with feminist philosophy. She is currently particularly interested in religious epistemology and in what challenges are brought to it by contemplative and ‘apophatic’ traditions of thought, both East and West. In 2012 she gave the Aberdeen Gifford Lectures on evolutionary cooperation and its proposed relation to ethics and apologetics; and more recently she has been working on the second and third volumes of her systematic theology (on sin, racism, and redemption). 

Research Supervision


Key Publications


  • Sin, Racism and the Contemplative Life:  An Essay ‘On Human Darkness’ (Cambridge, C.U.P., 2019) (vol. 2 of 4-vol. systematic theology)
  • Sacrifice Regained: Evolution, Cooperation and God, the 2012 Gifford Lectures at Aberdeen University, at (forthcoming with Oxford, O.U.P.; pbk with Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans, 2018)
  • The Broken Body: Israel, Christ and Fragmentation (Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2018) (Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 2)
  • The New Asceticism: Sexuality, Gender and the Quest for God (London, Bloomsbury, 2015)
  • God, Sexuality and the Self: An Essay ‘On the Trinity’ (Cambridge, C.U.P., hbk and pbk, 2013) (vol. 1 of a 4-vol. systematic theology)
  • Powers and Submissions: Spirituality, Philosophy and Gender (Oxford, Blackwell, hbk and pbk, 2002) (Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 1)
  • Christ without Absolutes: A Study of the Christology of Ernst Troeltsch (Oxford, O.U.P., hbk, 1988; pbk, 1994)

Edited Volumes

  • Spiritual Healing: Science, Meaning and Discernment, ed. (Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans, 2018)
  • Evolution, Games and God: The Principle of Cooperation, co-ed. with Martin A. Nowak (Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press, April, 2013)
  • Faith, Rationality and the Passions, ed. (Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, pbk, 2012)
  • Re-thinking Dionysius the Areopagite, co-ed. with Charles M. Stang, with introduction (Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, pbk, 2009)
  • Pain and its Transformations: The Interface of Biology and Culture, co-ed. with Kay Kaufman Shelemay (Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press, hbk, 2007)
  • Re-thinking Gregory of Nyssa, ed. (Oxford, Blackwell, pbk, 2003)
  • Religion and the Body, ed. with introduction (Cambridge, C.U.P., hbk, 1997; pbk, 2000)
  • The Making and Remaking of Christian Doctrine: Essays in Honour of Maurice Wiles, co-ed. with David A. Pailin (Oxford, O.U.P., hbk, 1993)

Articles and Book Chapters

  • ‘Knowing in the Dark: Sin, Race and the Quest for Salvation, Part I: Transforming Theological Anthropology in a Théologie Totale’, Princeton Seminary Bulletin 32 (2015), at
  • ‘The Person of Christ’, in The Cambridge Companion to the Summa, eds. Denys Turner and Philip McCosker (Cambridge, C.U.P., 2016), 222-239
  • ‘Divine Hiddenness or Dark Intimacy?  How John of the Cross Dissolves a Contemporary Philosophical Dilemma’, in Hidden Divinity and Religious Belief:  New Perspectives, eds. Adam Green and Eleonore Stump (Cambridge, C.U.P, 2016), ch. 13
  • ‘Beyond “Belief”: Liturgy and the Cognitive Apprehension of God’, in The Vocation of Theology Today, eds. Tom Greggs, Rachel Muers and Simeon Zahl (Eugene OR, Wipf & Stock, 2013), 130-45
  • ‘Eastern “Mystical Theology” or Western “Nouvelle Théologie”? On the Comparative Reception of Dionysius the Areopagite in Lossky and de Lubac’, in Orthodox Constructions of the West, eds. George E. Demacopoulos and Aristotle Papanikolaou (New York, Fordham University Press, 2013), 125-141
  • ‘Dark Contemplation and Epistemic Transformation: The Analytic Theologian Re-Meets Teresa of Avila’, in eds. Oliver D. Crisp and Michael C. Rea, Analytic Theology: New Essays in the Philosophy of Theology (Oxford, O.U.P., 2009), 280−312
  • ‘Does Kenosis Rest on a Mistake? Three Kenotic Models in Patristic Exegesis’, in ed. C. Stephen Evans, Exploring Kenotic Christology: The Self-Emptying of God (Oxford, O.U.P., 2006), 246−64
  • ‘Feminism and Analytic Philosophy of Religion’, in ed. William J. Wainwright, The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion (New York, O.U.P., 2005), 494−525
  • ‘What Does Chalcedon Solve and What Does it Not? Some Reflections on the Status and Meaning of the Chalcedonian “Definition”’, in eds. Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall, S.J. and Gerald O’Collins, S.J., The Incarnation: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Incarnation of the Son of God (Oxford, O.U.P., 2002), 143−63

A full list of Professor Coakley's publications is available in a separate document.


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