Dr Philip McCosker

Research Fellow
Religion and Theology


Areas of expertise: systematic and historical theologies especially christologies; Catholic theologies; theological epistemologies; apophaticisms; ressourcement theologies; mystical theologies; paradox; sacrifice; desire; prayer; sexuality; queer theologies

Email: philip.mccosker@acu.edu.au

Location: ACU Melbourne Campus

Philip McCosker is a Research Fellow in Religion and Theology at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. Until 2020 he was Director of the Von Hügel Institute for Critical Catholic Inquiry and Vice-Master of St Edmund’s College in the University of Cambridge, as well as Director of Studies in Theology, Religion and the Philosophy of Religion at Magdalene, Murray Edwards and St Edmund’s Colleges. Prior to that he was Departmental Lecturer in Modern Theology at the Faculty of Theology and Religion in the University of Oxford, Deputy Master of St Benet’s Hall, and Lecturer in Theology at Trinity and Jesus Colleges in Oxford. He took a First in Theology at Oxford. After working as a lay-chaplain at the University of Rouen in France he was awarded a MTS in Systematic Theology from Harvard Divinity School. He went on to do his PhD on models of paradoxicality in mystical christologies in Cambridge under Denys Turner, completing the research while a Visiting Assistant in Research at the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University.

Having edited books on the interpretation and reception of scripture, and on the theology of Thomas Aquinas, McCosker’s first monograph creatively extends the paradoxical christologies of the early twentieth century ressourcement theologians by using pre-modern mystical theologies to provide a comprehensive treatment of forms of paradox in theology. Central to this work is close attention to different kinds of difference or opposition and their role in theological contexts. His next monograph will provide a taxonomy of understandings of catholicity, again focussing on the work of the ressourcement theologians. It will argue that these theologians quietly but surely turned the tables on centuries of Roman Catholic thinking about catholicity by turning to qualitative rather than solely quantitative understandings and explore the significant implications of this move.

Curriculum vitae

Select publications


  • Christ the Paradox: Expanding Ressourcement Christologies (forthcoming; Cambridge University Press, 2022)
  • Co-editor (with Denys Turner), Cambridge Companion to the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016)
  • Editor, What is it that the Scripture says? Essays in Biblical Interpretation, Translation, and Reception in Honour of Henry Wansbrough OSB (London: T&T Clark, 2006)


  • 'From the Joy of the Gospel to the Joy of Christ: Situating and Expanding the Christology of Pope Francis', in Duncan Dormor and Alana Harris (eds), Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, and the Renewal of the Church (New York: Paulist Press, 2018)
  • 'Grace', in Philip McCosker and Denys Turner (eds), The Cambridge Companion to the Summa Theologiaeof Thomas Aquinas (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 205-21
  • Sitit Sitiri:Apophatic Christologics of Desire’, in Eric Bugyis and David Newheiser (eds), Desire, Faith, and the Darkness of God (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2015), 391-413
  • ‘Sacrifice in Recent Catholic Theology: From Paradox to Polarity, and Back Again?’, in Johannes Zachhuber and Julia Meszaros (eds), Sacrifice and Modern Thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 132-46
  • Enhypostasia Mystica: Insights from Mystical Theology for an Old Debate’, in Louise Nelstrop and Simon Podmore (eds), Immanence and Transcendence: Christian Mysticism and Incarnational Theology (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2013), 69-92
  • ‘Ephrem the Syrian (c. (c.306–73)’, in Ian Markham (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to the Theologians (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 97-115
  • ‘Bonaventure (c.1217–74)’, in Ian Markham (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to the Theologians (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 268-83
  • ‘The Christology of Pierre de Bérulle’, Downside Review, 124/435 (2006), 111-34
  • ‘“Blessed Tension”: Barth and von Balthasar on the Music of Mozart’, The Way, 44/4 (2005), 81-95.
  • ‘On Emptying Kenosis’, a review article of C. Stephen Evans (ed.), Exploring Kenotic Christology: The Self-Emptying of God (Oxford: OUP, 2006), Reviews in Religion and Theology, 14/3 (2007), 380-8
  • ‘Middle Muddle?’, review article of John Milbank, The Suspended Middle: Henri de Lubac and the Debate concerning the Supernatural (London: SCM, 2005), Reviews in Religion and Theology, 13 (2006), 362-70
  • ‘Joined-up Thomism and the ‘Second Quest’ for Trinitarian Renewal’, review article of Matthew Levering, Scripture and Metaphysics: Aquinas and the Renewal of Trinitarian Theology (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), Reviews in Religion and Theology, 12 (2005), 331-7


  • 2021-2026, Project Leader, ACURF: ‘Theologies of Catholicity’, with Stephan van Erp (KU Leuven) and Judith Wolfe (University of St Andrews)
  • 2019-2022, Co-Leader, Von Hügel Institute Research Project: ‘Clericalism and Sexuality’, with Luigi Gioia (University of Cambridge). External funding: £55,000
  • 2019, Co-Organiser, Von Hügel Institute Interdisciplinary Research Workshop: ‘Refining Trust: Palestine in Comparative Perspective’, with Ralf Wüstenberg (Flensburg Europa University), External funding: £5,000
  • 2018, Co-Organiser, Von Hügel Institute Interdisciplinary Research Workshop: ‘Navigating Impasses in Bioethics: End of Life, Disability, and Mental Illness’, with Lidia Ripamonti (University of Cambridge). External funding: £5,000
  • 2016, Co-Organiser, Von Hügel Institute and Woolf Institute Conference: ‘Catholic-Jewish Relations Today: from Nostra Aetate to The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable’, with Ed Kessler (University of Cambridge)
  • 2015, Co-Organiser, Von Hügel Institute Interdisciplinary Research Workshop: ‘Navigating Impasses: Understandings of Ill/Health’, with Lidia Ripamonti (University of Cambridge)
  • 2015, Co-Organiser, MacDonald Ethics Conference, University of Cambridge: ‘Towards a Contemporary Art of Dying’.
  • 2014, Co-Organiser, MacDonald Ethics Conference, University of Cambridge: ‘New Conversations in Islamic & Christian Political Theology’
  • 2013, Co-Organiser, MacDonald Ethics Conference, University of Cambridge: ‘Ethics, Theology and State Punishment’

Accolades and awards

  • Ellerton Theological Essay Prize, University of Oxford
  • Canon Hall Junior Prize in New Testament, University of Oxford
  • Pusey and Ellerton Junior Prize in Biblical Hebrew, University of Oxford

Appointments and affiliations

  • Fellow, St Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge (2015 to present)
  • Director, Von Hügel Institute for Critical Catholic Inquiry, University of Cambridge (2015-20)
  • Vice-Master, St Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge (2018-2020)
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Arts (2017 to present)
  • Departmental Lecturer in Modern Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford (2015-17)
  • Research Associate and Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge (2012-20)
  • Lecturer in Theology, Trinity College and Jesus College, University of Oxford (2010-12)
  • Deputy Master, St Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford (2009-12)
  • Lay Chaplain, Archdiocese of Rouen, France (2000-1)

Editorial roles

  • Editor, Reviews in Religion and Theology (Wiley-Blackwell)
  • Executive Editor, International Studies in Catholic Education (Taylor & Francis)

Public engagement

  • ‘Adam’s apple’, The Tablet 269/9082, 10 January 2015, 23
  • ‘Thirst for the ultimate good’, The Tablet 268/9045, 19 April 2014, 33
  • ‘Game-changing vision’, The Tablet 268/9055, 28 June 2014, 18
  • ‘Unknown Thomas’, The Tablet 267/9022, 2 November 2013, 23
  • ‘Sacrifice regained’, The Tablet 264/8866, 16 October 2010, 6-7
  • ‘The Lord in Unexpected Places’, The Tablet 263/8788, 16 April 2009, 24
  • ‘The Last Straw’, The Catholic Herald, 27 January 2006, 13
  • ‘New theology is fizzing’, The Tablet 259/8616, 26 November, 2005, 23
  • ‘Is this really the historical Jesus?’, The Catholic Herald 26 December 2003, 9

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