Alexis Torrance

Hannah Seeger Davis Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2011-2012

Degree
D.Phil., University of Oxford, Theology, 2010
Dissertation
Repentance in Christian Late Antiquity, with Special Reference to Mark the Monk, Barsanuphius and John of Gaza, and John Climacus
Research Project
A Critical Assessment of Greek Patristic and Byzantine Precedents for Contemporary Theologies of the Person

Alexis Torrance (D.Phil., Theology, University of Oxford) did his doctoral work on the concept of repentance in Christian late antiquity, with special reference to ascetic theology from the fifth to seventh centuries. During academic year 2010-11, he was a Residential Fellow at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study. He has researched and published on diverse aspects of patristic, Byzantine, and modern Orthodox theology, including articles on the letters of Barsanuphius and John, precedents for the theology of Gregory Palamas in the Cappadocian Fathers, and modern Orthodox personalism. He is currently co-editing a collection entitled Individuality in Late Antiquity for Ashgate Press, and his first book, Repentance in Late Antiquity: Framing the Christian Life in the Early Church, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.

About the Research Project
A Critical Assessment of Greek Patristic and Byzantine Precedents for Contemporary Theologies of the Person

My research at Princeton has focused broadly on two themes: first, the modern phenomenon of personalism (a loose philosophical and theological movement which insists on the metaphysical priority of the concept of person/personhood) as it developed in twentieth-century Eastern Orthodox theology; and second, the possible precedents for Orthodox personalist thought in Greek patristic and Byzantine texts. The first theme involved an engagement with a wide range of modern Greek and Russian thinkers, together with their relationship to Western thought, including John Zizioulas, Christos Yannaras, Georges Florovsky, and Stelios Ramfos. The second allowed me to build on my work on patristic and Byzantine ascetic literature in order to open up a new avenue for the study of human personhood in this period (which, up until now, has been dominated by assessments of treatises on doctrinal matters, such as the persons of the Trinity, that say little directly concerning human personhood).