Purpose

Research professor of religion, politics, and ethics at the University of Nottingham, where he heads the Centre for Theology and Philosophy, John Milbank is an Anglican theologian who spearheaded the theological movement known as Radical Orthodoxy. The apparent oppositions in the name are highlighted in his claim that the epiphany of God makes a difference to everything in the world and yet everything is bound to remain, in some sense, uncertain, veiled, or fragmentary as asserted by postmodern (and quantum) theorists. Educated at Hymers College in Hull and The Queen’s College, Oxford, where he took a B.A. with honors, Dr. Milbank went on to study theology with Rowan Williams, now Archbishop of Canterbury, at Westcott House, Cambridge, and earned his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Birmingham in 1986. Cambridge University awarded him a senior doctor of divinity degree in recognition of published work in 1998. He had begun his teaching career in 1983 as Maurice Reckitt Teaching Fellow in Modern Christian Social and Political Thought at the University of Lancaster. He moved on to Cambridge in 1991 as a university lecturer in theological ethics, became a reader in philosophical theology in 1997, and, from 1993 to 1998, he was also a supernumerary fellow of Peterhouse. He was named Frances Myers Ball Professor of Philosophical Theology at the University of Virginia in 1999 and accepted his present position in 2004. While still in Cambridge, he collaborated with Graham Ward and Catherine Pickstock to launch the radical orthodoxy network as a scholarly response to the current of nihilism in postmodern thought. The three scholars co-edit both Routledge’s Radical Orthodoxy series and Blackwell’s Illuminations: Theory and Religion series. They served as editors of a programmatic collection of essays, Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology, which set out the movement’s principle ideas and was published in 1998. But Dr. Milbank attracted international attention nearly a decade earlier with his first major work, Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (1990 and 2006), which argues that Christianity’s central dynamic of unfolding divine love places it outside – and above – what he sees as the conviction of the secular social sciences that all contending world views are rooted in and sustained by violence. Among his other thirteen books are two volumes of poetry, a French translation of some of his writings, and two edited collections of essays, (with Creston Davis and Slavoj Zizek) Theology and the Political (2005) and (with Simon Oliver) The Radical Orthodoxy Reader (2009), as well as: a two-volume study, The Religious Dimensions of Thought of Giambattista Vico (1991 and 1992), The Word Made Strange: Theology, Language, Culture (1996), (with Catherine Pickstock) Truth in Aquinas (2001), Being Reconciled: Ontology and Pardon (2003), (with Graham Ward and Edith Wyschogrod), Theological Perspectives on God and Beauty (2003), The Suspended Middle: Henri de Lubac and the Debate Surrounding the Supernatural (2005), and, most recently, two titles published in 2008 by Wipf and Stock, (with Slavoj Zizek) The Monstrosity of Christ and The Future of Love: Essays in Political Theology — all of which have outlined further dimensions of radical orthodox thought. Dr. Milbank, who currently serves on the editorial boards of Literature and Theology and of Modern Theology, is working on two books for Blackwell, The Gift Exchanged: A Theory of Donation and Philosophy: A Theoretical Critique, in addition to a study, Proposing Theology, for SCM Press and another, for Duke University Press, entitled Geopolitical Theology.