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Professor Lewis Ayres

Professor of Catholic & Historical Theology

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Professor of Catholic & Historical Theology in the Department of Theology and ReligionAbbey House 101+44 (0) 191 33 43945
Member of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies  


Although I was born and educated in the UK, I have taught for much of my career abroad, in Ireland (at TCD) and most recently in the US at Emory University. I arrived at Durham in 2009. The core of my research has been Trinitarian theology in Augustine and in the Greek writers of the fourth century. On this theme I have published a number of articles and Nicaea and Its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth Century Trinitarian Theology (Oxford University Press, 2004/6). In 2010 I also published Augustine and the Trinity (Cambridge University Press).

My current research concerns the development of early Christian cultures of interpretation between 100 and 250. I am currently working on a book entitled As It Is Written: Ancient Literary Criticism and the Rise of Scripture AD 100-250 (for Princeton University Press).

The same project will result in a book on modern Catholic debates about the relationship between the reading of Scripture, Tradition and the nature of theology.

I have also edited or co-edited a number of books, including (with Andrew Louth and Frances Young) the Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature (2004). With two colleagues I recently published an English translation of and introduction to Didymus the Blind's On the Holy Spirit and Athanasius's Letters to Serapion (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2012). I am currently editing the Cambridge History of Early Christian Theology.

I also have a number of interests in modern Catholic fundamental and dogmatic theology — as will be evident from the last chapter of Nicaea and some of the articles I have published. I am interested in the modern reception of Patristic Trinitarian theology and in the modern use of post-idealist themes in the supposed "revivals" of Trinitarian theology that we have seen over the last two centuries. I also have a strong interest in the place of Scripture (and Tradition) in modern Catholic theology and the fundamental structure of Catholic theology. I am convinced that the ideological and professional divisions that have arisen between Scripture scholars, "systematic" and "historical" theologians have served Catholic theology ill. Ressourcement theologians have offered us many resources that can move us beyond these divisions, but much further work is necessary for their agenda to be taken forward.

With Medi Ann Volpe I also co-edited the Oxford Handbook of Catholic Theology (forthcoming March 2019). I am involved in co-editing a number of book series, including the Wiley-Blackwell series Challenges in Contemporary Theology. I also serve on the editorial boards of the Irish Theological Quartely, Augustinian Studies and Modern Theology.

Between 2009-2012 I was the inaugural holder of the Bede Chair in Catholic Theology. During 2014-15 academic year I seved as Distinguished Fellow of Notre Dame's Institute for Advanced Study.

I am also a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry of the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne.


Authored book

  • Ayres, Lewis (2010). Augustine and the Trinity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Ayres, Lewis (2004). Nicaea and Its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth Century Theology. Oxford University Press.

Chapter in book

  • Ayres, Lewis (2012). Augustine on Redemption. In A Companion to Augustine. Vessey, Mark Wiley-Blackwell. 416-427.
  • Ayres, Lewis (2010). "The Holy Spirit as the 'Undiminished Giver': Didymus the Blind's De Spiritu Sancto and the Development of Nicene Pneumatology". In The Holy Spirit in the Fathers of the Church: The Proceedings of the Seventh International Patristic Conference. Twomey, Vincent & Rutherford, Janet Dublin: Four Courts Press. 57-72.
  • Ayres, Lewis (2017). Continuity and Change in Second-Century Christianity: A Narrative Against the Trend. In Christianity in the Second Century: Themes and Developments. Paget, James Carleton & Lieu, Judith Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 106-121.
  • Ayres, Lewis (2011). Augustine on the Trinity. In The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity. Emery, Gilles & Levering, Matthew Oxford University Press. 123-137.
  • Ayres, Lewis (2012). Into the Cloud of Witnesses: Latin Trinitarian Theology Beyond and Before Its Modern "Revivals". In Rethinking Trinitarian theology: disputed questions and contemporary issues in Trinitarian theology. Maspero, Giulio & Woźniak, Robert Bloomsbury (T & T Clark International). 3-25.
  • Ayres, Lewis (2019). Totius Traditionis Mirabile Sacramentum: Toward a Theology of Tradition in the Light of Dei Verbum. In Dogma and Ecumenism: Vatican II and Karl Barth's Ad Limina Apostolorum. Levering, Matthew, McCormack, Bruce L. & White, Thomas Joseph Catholic University of America Press. 54-80.

Edited book

  • Young, Frances, Ayres, Lewis & Louth, Andrew (2004). Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature. Cambridge University Press.

Journal Article

  • Ayres, Lewis (2012). "Where Does the Trinity Appear?" Augustine’s Apologetics and "Philosophical" Readings of the De Trinitate. Augustinian Studies 43(1/2): 109-126.
  • Ayres, L. (2015). Irenaeus vs. the Valentinians: Toward a Rethinking of Patristic Exegetical Origins. Journal of Early Christian Studies 23(2): 153-187.
  • Ayres, Lewis (2009). Into the Poem of the Universe: Exempla, Conversion, and Church in Augustine's Confessiones. Zeitschrift für antikes Christentum 13(2): 263-281.
  • Ayres, Lewis (2011). The Trinity and the Life of the Christian: A Liturgical Catechism. New Blackfriars 92(1037): 3-17.
  • Ayres, Lewis (2010). Augustine on the Spirit as the Soul of the Body, or Fragments of a Trinitarian Ecclesiology. Augustinian Studies 41(1): 165-182.
  • Ayres, Lewis (2012). "There's Fire in That Rain": On Reading the Letter and Reading Allegorically. Modern Theology 28(4): 616-634.
  • Ayres, Lewis (2015). The Memory of Tradition: Postconciliar Renewal and One Recent Thomism. The Thomist 79(4): 511-550.

Supervision students