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John Milbank

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John Milbank

John Milbank
John Milbank, October 2014
Born Alasdair John Milbank
Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, England[1]
Occupation Professor, theologian, philosopher
Nationality English
Education Oxford, Cambridge, Birmingham universities
Alma mater Oxford University
Genre theology, continental philosophy, postmodern philosophy,
political philosophy, political theology, social theory
Notable works Theology and Social Theory

Alasdair John Milbank (born 1952) is an Anglican Christian theologian and the Research Professor of Religion, Politics and Ethics at the University of Nottingham,[2] where he also directs the Centre of Theology and Philosophy.[3] Milbank previously taught at the University of Virginia and before that at the University of Cambridge and the University of Lancaster. He is also Chairman of the Trustees of the ResPublica think tank.

Milbank is known as the founder of the movement known as Radical Orthodoxy, which has attracted international attention in both religion and politics. His work crosses disciplinary boundaries, integrating subjects such as systematic theology, social theory, ethics, aesthetics, philosophy, political theory and political theology. He first gained recognition after publishing Theology and Social Theory in 1990, which laid the theoretical foundations for the movement which later became known as Radical Orthodoxy. In recent years he has collaborated on three books with philosopher Slavoj Žižek and Creston Davis, entitled Theology and the Political: The New Debate (2005), The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic (2009), and Paul's New Moment: Continental Philosophy and the Future of Christian Theology (2010). Milbank delivered the Stanton Lectures at Cambridge in 2011.[4]


  • Educational background and personal life 1
  • Thought 2
  • Bibliography 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Educational background and personal life

Milbank was educated in Britain, studying at both Oxford University and Cambridge University. During his time at Cambridge he studied under Rowan Williams. He then received his PhD degree from the University of Birmingham. His dissertation was on the work of Giambattista Vico under the supervision of Leon Pompa. Cambridge University awarded him a senior Doctor of Divinity degree in recognition of published work in 1998.[5] He is married to Alison Milbank, also a lecturer at the University of Nottingham. They have two children.


A key part of the controversy surrounding Milbank concerns his view of the relationship between theology and the social sciences. He argues that the social sciences are a product of the modern ethos of secularism, which stems from an ontology of violence. Theology, therefore, should not seek to make constructive use of secular social theory, for theology itself offers a peaceable, comprehensive vision of all reality, extending to the social and political without the need for a social theory based on some level of violence. (As Contemporary Authors summarises his thought, "the Christian mythos alone 'is able to rescue virtue from deconstruction into violent, agonistic difference.'")[1] Milbank is sometimes described as a metaphysical theologian in that he is concerned with establishing a Christian trinitarian ontology. He relies heavily on aspects of the thought of Plato and Augustine, in particular the former's modification by the Neoplatonist philosophers.

Milbank, together with Radical Orthodoxy"—a predominantly Anglo-Catholic approach which is highly critical of modernity.



  • Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason, 1990 – (ISBN 0-631-18948-3)
  • The Religious Dimension in the Thought of Giambattista Vico, 1668–1744, 2 vols., 1991–92 – (ISBN 0773496947 [pt. 1], ISBN 0-7734-9215-1 [pt. 2])
  • The Mercurial Wood: Sites, Tales, Qualities, 1997 – (ISBN 3705201131)
  • The Word Made Strange, 1997 – (ISBN 0-631-20336-2)
  • Truth in Aquinas, with Catherine Pickstock, 2000 – (ISBN 0-415-23335-6)
  • Being Reconciled: Ontology and Pardon, 2003 – (ISBN 0-415-30525-X)
  • The Suspended Middle: Henri de Lubac and the Debate concerning the Supernatural, 2005 – (ISBN 0-8028-2899-X)
  • The Legend of Death: Two Poetic Sequences, 2008 – (ISBN 978-1-55635-915-6)
  • The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic?, With Slavoj Žižek and Creston Davis, 2009 – (ISBN 9780262012713)
  • The Future of Love: Essays in Political Theology, 2009 – (ISBN 978-1-60608-162-4)
  • Paul's New Moment: Continental Philosophy and the Future of Christian Theology, With Slavoj Žižek and Creston Davis, 2010 – (ISBN 978-1587432279)
  • Beyond Secular Order: The Representation of Being and the Representation of the People, 2013 – (ISBN 9781118825297)

Essays in edited volumes

  • "Postmodern Critical Augustinianism: A Short Summa in Forty-two Responses to Unasked Questions", found in The Postmodern God: a Theological Reader, edited by Graham Ward, 1997 – (ISBN 0-631-20141-6)
  • "The Last of the Last: Theology in the Church", found in Conflicting Allegiances: The Church-Based University in a Liberal Democratic Society, 2004 – (ISBN 1-58743-063-0)
  • "Alternative Protestantism: Radical Orthodoxy and the Reformed Tradition", found in Radical Orthodoxy and the Reformed Tradition: Creation, Covenant, And Participation, 2005 – (ISBN 0-8010-2756-X)
  • "Plato versus Levinas: Gift, Relation and Participation", found in Adam Lipszyc, ed., Emmanuel Levinas: Philosophy, Theology, Politics (Warsaw: Adam Mickiewicz Institute, 2006), 130–144.
  • "Sophiology and Theurgy: The New Theological Horizon", found in Adrian Pabst, ed., Radical Orthodoxy and Eastern Orthodoxy (Basingstoke: Ashgate, 2009), 45–85 – (ISBN 978-0754660910)
  • "Shari'a and the True Basis of Group Rights: Islam, the West, and Liberalism", found in Shari'a in the West, edited by Rex Ahdar and Nicholas Aroney, 2010 – (ISBN 978-0-19-958291-4)
  • "Platonism and Christianity: East and West", found in Daniel Haynes, ed., New Perspectives on Maximus (forthcoming)

Journal articles

  • "The Body by Love Possessed: Christianity and Late Capitalism in Britain", Modern Theology 3, no. 1 (October 1986): 35–65.
  • "Can a Gift Be Given? Prolegomena to a Future Trinitarian Metaphysic", Modern Theology 11, no. 1 (January 1995): 119–161.
  • "The Soul of Reciprocity Part One: Reciprocity Refused", Modern Theology 17, no. 3 (July 2001): 335–391.
  • "The Soul of Reciprocity Part Two: Reciprocity Granted", Modern Theology 17, no. 4 (October 2001): 485–507.
  • "Scholasticism, Modernism and Modernity", Modern Theology 22, no. 4 (October 2006): 651–671.
  • "From Sovereignty to Gift: Augustine’s Critique of Interiority", Polygraph 19 no. 20 (2008): 177–199.
  • "The New Divide: Romantic versus Classical Orthodoxy Modern Theology", Modern Theology 26, no. 1 (January 2010): 26–38.
  • "Culture and Justice", Theory, Culture and Society 27, no. 6 (2010): 107–124.
  • "On 'Thomistic Kabbalah'", Modern Theology 27, no. 1 (2011): 147–185.
  • "Hume versus Kant: Faith, Reason and Feeling", Modern Theology 27, no. 2 (April 2011): 276–297.
  • "Against Human Rights: Liberty in the Western Tradition", Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 1, no. 1 (2012): 203–234.
  • "Dignity Rather than Right", Revista de filosofía Open Insight, v. IV, no. 7 (January 2014): 77-124.
  • "Politics of the Soul", Revista de filosofía Open Insight, v. VI, no. 9 (January-June 2015): 91-108.


  1. ^ a b Contemporary Authors Online, s.v. "(Alasdair) John Milbank" Accessed 9 March 2009
  2. ^ The University of Nottingham: John Milbank
  3. ^ Centre of Theology and Philosophy: Staff
  4. ^ "Stanton Lectures". Cambridge University. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  5. ^ "Participants: John Milbank". John Templeton Foundation. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 

External links

  • Interview with John Milbank, 2005
  • Interview with John Milbank, 2008
  • "The Ethics of Self-Sacrifice" article in First Things (1999)
  • Staff profile on the University of Nottingham website
  • The Centre of Theology and Philosophy, of which Milbank is the director.
  • "The Politics of Paradox" from the 2009 TELOS conference
  • Lazarus Style Comeback, Times Higher Education, 16 April 2009
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