Sarah Coakley was educated at the University of Cambridge (MA, PhD) and at Harvard (Th.M), where she was a Harkness Fellow. She was a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at Lancaster University (1976-1991), a Tutorial Fellow and University Lecturer in Theology and Philosophy of Religion at Oriel College, Oxford (1991-93), and Professor of Christian Theology and then Malllinckrodt Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School (1993-2007). She has also been a Visiting Professor of Religion at Princeton University (2004-5). In her last three years at Harvard she was the recipient of a $2 million grant from the Templeton Foundation to co-run, with Professor Martin A. Nowak of the Program of Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard, a research project on the “Theology of Cooperation”. Returning to the UK in 2008, Coakley is now the Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity and Deputy Chair of Arts and Humanities at the University of Cambridge. She is the recipient of honorary degrees from the University of Lund, Sweden, and from the General Theological Seminary, New York. Amongst her publications are: Christ Without Absolutes: A Study of the Christology of Ernst Troeltsch (Oxford, 1988); (coed.), The Making and Remaking of Christian Doctrine (Oxford, 1993); (ed.), Religion and the Body (Cambridge, 1997); Powers and Submsisions: Spirituality, Philosophy and Gender (2002); (ed.), Re-Thinking Gregory of Nyssa (Blackwell, 2003); (coed.), Pain and Its Transformations: The Interface of Biology and Culture (Harvard, 2007); (co-ed.), Re-Thinking Dionysius the Areopagite (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009); (coed), The Spiritual Senses: Perceiving God in Western Christianity (Cambridge, 2012); (ed.), Faith, Rationality and the Passions (Wiley-Blackwell, in press, 2012); and her forthcoming first volume of systematics, God, Sexuality and the Self: An Essay ‘On the Trinity’ (Cambridge UP, in press), and (coed., with Martin A. Nowak), Evolution, Games and God: The Principle of Cooperation (Harvard UP, in press).
Coakley’s Cambridge inaugural lecture, Sacrifice Regained: Reconsidering the Rationality of Religious Belief (2012) forms the platform for this year’s Gifford Lectures and is available for download here, as is her programmatic essay ‘Providence and the Evolutionary Phenomenon of ‘Cooperation’: A Systematic Proposal’, in eds. Francesca Aran Murphy and Philip G. Ziegler, The Providence of God: Deus Habet Consiliumi (Edinburgh, 2009), 181-95.
Sarah Coakley is an ordained Anglican priest of the diocese of Ely, and has served parishes as an associate in both the UK and the USA. She is an honorary canon of Ely cathedral. She is co-founder of the Littlemore Group, a group of priest-theologians who have committed themselves to work in difficult parish situations. They have so far produced two accessible volumes of theology about the parish: Praying for England: Priestly Presence in Contemporary Culture (Continuum, 2008), and Fear and Friendship: Anglicans Engaging with Islam (Continuum, 2012).