“All affections are raised either by light in the understanding, or by some error and delusion in the understanding; for all affections do certainly arise from some apprehension in the understanding; and that apprehension must either be agreeable to truth, or else be some mistake or delusion.”

Jonathan Edwards
Some Thoughts Concerning the Revival (1743)

A philosopher of religion and a systematic theologian, Sarah Coakley is the Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University and a fellow of Murray Edwards College. She also serves as an Anglican priest in the diocese of Ely. From 1995 to 2007, she was Mallinckrodt Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School. Educated at the Blackheath High School in London, she taught English and Latin to young Africans in Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho, before going up to New Hall (now Murray Edward College), Cambridge, where she took first-class honors in theology. She went on to earn a master’s degree in theology at Harvard as a Harkness Fellow. Returning to England, she was appointed a junior lecturer in religious studies at the University of Lancaster in 1976 and received her doctorate in theology from Cambridge in 1982. She was named senior lecturer at Lancaster in 1990, and the next year, she became the first woman to be appointed a tutorial fellow in theology at Oriel College, Oxford. She joined the Harvard faculty as a tenured professor of Christian theology in 1993. She was ordained in the diocese of Oxford in 2001. For six years, she served, in the summers, as a curate at SS. Mary and Nicholas Church, Littlemore, Oxford, and, during the academic year, at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Waban, Massachusetts. The recipient of two Cambridge essay prizes—the Chadwick and the Hulsean, a Henry Luce III Fellowship, and a Lilly Foundation Fellowship, Dr. Coakley has been awarded honorary degrees by the University of Lund in Sweden and General Theological Seminary in New York. She has delivered numerous invited lectures in the United Kingdom and the United States, including the 2005 Hensley Henson Lectures at Oxford University. She will deliver the Gifford Lectures at the University of Aberdeen in 2011-12.

From 2005 to 2008, she co-directed (with Martin Nowak) a research project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation (JTF), on “Evolution and the Theology of Cooperation.” She has served as a member of the National Advisory Board of the Christian Scholars’ Program and is currently a member of the JTF board of advisors, as well as on the editorial boards of Modern Theology, The Harvard Theological Review, Theology Today, Ecclesiology, and Spiritus. In addition to contributing articles to academic journals and essays to volumes of collected works, she is the editor (with David A. Pailin) of The Making and Remaking of Christian Doctrine (1993), Religion and the Body (1997 and 2000), Rethinking Gregory of Nyssa (2003), (with Sam Wells) Praying for England: Priestly Presence in Contemporary Culture (2008), and three recent collaborative volumes specifically on the interface of science and religion: (with Kay Shelemay) Pain and Its Transformations (2007), Spiritual Healing: Science, Meaning and Discernment (forthcoming from Wm. B. Eerdmans), and (with Martin A. Nowak) Evolution, Games and God: The Principle of Cooperation (forthcoming from Harvard University Press). Dr. Coakley is the author of Christ without Absolutes: A Study of the Christology of Ernst Troeltsch (1988 and 1994) and Powers and Submissions: Spirituality, Philosophy and Gender (2002), a collection of her essays, which combines analytic philosophy of religion and theology while reflecting her deep interest in spiritual practice and feminist thought. She is at work on a four-volume systematic theology to be published by Cambridge University Press. The first volume will appear in 2010 as God, Sexuality and the Self: An Essay ‘On the Trinity’.