Prof. John McDowell
|Work Phone||(02) 4921 8759|
|Fax||(02) 4921 6933|
Professor of Theology
School of Humanities and Social Science
The University of Newcastle, Australia
|Office||MC108C, Behavioural Sciences|
A very recent arrival on the theological scene in Australia, I hail from a land where it rains considerably more, Northern Ireland. Studying for a BD at the University of Aberdeen was my route into theology in general, and one that eventually led me to re-evaluate my earlier desire to return to N. Ireland in ministerial capacity. Instead, I undertook doctoral research at Girton College in the University of Cambridge, under the watchful eye of Professor Nicholas Lash, and thereafter spent a little over 8 years as the Meldrum Lecturer in Systematic Theology at New College in the University of Edinburgh.
- PhD, University of Cambridge - UK, 1999
What is it that we are doing when we hope? How is our conception of self and world shaped within certain understandings of hope? These two broad questions have lingered through my doctoral research and beyond, inspired as I have been by encountering the writings of the Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968). Exploring the complex theological dynamic of what it means to hope, and particularly what significance hoping has for human identity/agency, will be furthered, in one way or another, over the next few years through particular engagement with a host of diverse figures: primarily, but not exclusively, Sophocles, Euripides, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, William Shakespeare, Immanuel Kant, G.W.H. Hegel, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Donald MacKinnon, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Hans Frei, and Gustavo Gutierrez.
Currently I am on several projects. Most immediately, I am writing a paper for a conference on 'Trinitarian Theology After Barth', testing the theological assumptions of a particular account of petitionary prayer. Subsequent to this will be, among other things, the editing of several of Donald MacKinnon's published articles (Continuum/T&T Clark, 2010); a paper for a collection on theology and tragedy which will read Jesus' trial by Pilate in the light of Barth's 'Judge Judged in Our Place', Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and Kafka's Trial; a study of important elements in Barth's theology; and an introduction to the history of eschatological perspectives (Eerdmans, 2011).
In the more distant future I intend to develop a conference paper that I delivered in 2001 ['Midnight Feastings: Hope and the Deglobalising of Theology']. This seeks to reflect on the manner of Christian praxis specifically through reflecting on the styles of hoping available in societies undergoing 'globalisation'.
Following that, I hope to explore the accounts of evil and its relation to the cross in the writings of Karl Barth, Jürgen Moltmann and Donald MacKinnon. The aim is to demonstrate that these thinkers who are critical of the 'project theological of modernity' require critical reconstructions to their approaches to the cross, but that despite their various tendencies they attempt to refigure the Christian as a hopeful subject resisting evil.
My research plans flow from various concerns: concerns to engage fruitfully with the theology of Karl Barth; to substantiate the feeling of the significance of the broadly iconoclastic philosophical and theological work of Donald MacKinnon; to develop ways of engaging literature (especially the genre of tragedy); to root theological education in the practice of engagement with non-academic environments; and to ask about the nature and manifestation of the inescapable interaction between church and 'world' (hence my book on Star Wars).
Fields of Research
|220499||Religion And Religious Studies Not Elsewhere Classified||100|