Union Theological Seminary Student Life


John Anthony McGuckin

John McGuckin

Ane Marie and Bent Emil Nielsen Professor in Late Antique and Byzantine Christian History & Professor of Byzantine Christian Studies, Columbia University


3041 Broadway, AD 416
New York, NY 10027


* Please note: Dr. McGuckin is on sabbatical during the spring term, 2014.


Heythrop College, University of London. 2-year Philosophy Course. 1970

Heythrop College. Bachelor of Divinity Degree. 1972 - 1975, 1st Class Honours. 1975

Durham University. Doctoral Studies in Patristics PhD. ( Dunelm ) 1976 - 1979

Newcastle University. Certificate In Education ( PGCE ). [Winner of the Armstrong Prize ] 1979 - 1980

Southampton University Master’s Degree in Curriculum Design & Development. [Winner of the University Education Prize 1986] 1984 – 1986

Southampton University. MA (Ed.)1986


John McGuckin, who is also Professor of Byzantine Christian Studies at Columbia University (Religion Department), is Union Theological Seminary’s Nielsen Professor in Late Antique and Byzantine Christian History, an endowed Chair that was created in 2008 out of  one of the oldest Church History departments in America. He is a Stavrophore priest of the Orthodox Church (Patriarchate of Romania) and one of the leading international commentators on Eastern Orthodox theology and Early Christian history. A specialist in the Early Church, he came to New York from England in 1997 where he was formerly the University Reader in Patristic and Byzantine Theology at Leeds.  In his formation, he studied Philosophical Theology at Heythrop College, a Pontifical Athenaeum, from 1970-72, and from there read for a Divinity degree at the University of London, graduating with First Class Honors in 1975. To earn his Ph.D. from Durham University (1980), he researched the politics and theology of the early Constantinian era, with a thesis on the thought of Lucius Caecilius Lactantius, the Emperor Constantine's Christian tutor and later political advisor. In 1979 Dr. McGuckin was awarded a Certificate in Education from Newcastle University. An M.A. in Educational Studies followed later, in 1986, from Southampton University. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1986, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1996.

Dr. McGuckin is the author of 23 books of historical theology including: The Transfiguration of Christ in Scripture and Tradition (1986); St. Cyril of Alexandria: The Christological Controversy (1994); At the Lighting of the Lamps: Hymns from the Ancient Church (1995, and repr. 1997); St. Gregory of Nazianzus: An Intellectual Biography (2000; Nominated for the 2002 Pollock Biography Prize); Standing in God's Holy Fire: The Spiritual Tradition of Byzantium (Orbis, 2001); The Book of Mystical Chapters (Shambhala, 2002); The Westminster Handbook To Patristic Theology (2004); Ancient Christian Doctrines. Volume 2: Patristic Christology (IV Press, 2006; One of a series of five volumes); and The Orthodox Church: Its History and Spiritual Culture (Blackwell-Wiley, Oxford, 2007, now in its third reprint in 2011, and a  winner of the US librarians’ prestigious CHOICE award). 

Most recently, in his capacity as Senior Professorial Fellow of Emory Law School’s CSLR Project, he has completed a book on the  significance of legal philosophy in the Christianization of ancient culture, entitled: The Ascent of Law. (SVS Press. 2011). He is the editor of the Blackwell-Wiley Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodoxy (two vols. Oxford, New York. 2011 (the largest-ever reference work in English on the Eastern Church). He has published over 100 research articles in scholarly journals, ranging in subject matter from New Testament Exegesis to Byzantine Iconography, though mainly centered on the thought of Origen of Alexandria, the Fourth to Fifth Century Greek Christian theologians, and forms of ancient Christian prayer. In 1994, he published a small volume of poetry, Byzantium and Other Poems (Black Gate Press), which was reprised in his Collected Poems (Theotokos Press, New York) in 2011.

Professor McGuckin was awarded the prestigious Henry Luce III Fellowship in Theology for 2006. His wider scholarly activities have included serving as manuscript assessor (Early Christian Studies) for Routledge Publications; as advisor to the Catholic University of Australia for the Center for Early Christian Studies (Sydney) and its series of scholarly monographs; as Editorial Board Advisor for Brill’s series of Early Christian Texts; as a member of the Advisory Board for the Journals: Pro Ecclesia, Maria, Studii Teologice (Bucharest), among others; and as an active member/fellow of numerous professional societies, including the Royal Historical Society, American Society of Church History, and the International Society for The Promotion of Byzantine Studies. He is a Senior Fellow the Sophia Institute, of which he also serves as Director, an advanced  international research forum dedicated to investigating the relation of Eastern Orthodox Christian traditions to contemporary culture.

Dr. McGuckin has served as visiting professor and guest lecturer in many universities and colleges in England, Ireland, Greece, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Italy, and the United States. In 2003, he was invited by the Royal Norwegian Academy to serve as an International Research Fellow at the Academy's Center For Higher Studies in Oslo. There he formed part of a team of international specialists considering the elaboration and development of principles of Aesthetics in Early Christian culture formation.

In 2005, Prof. McGuckin was a Keynote speaker at a conference in Belfast Ireland, on “Salvation in the Context of Roman and Byzantine Thought,” and subsequently was invited onto BBC Radio Belfast for discussions on religion in contemporary culture. Since then he has been a regular commentator on Radio and  now has his own series of broadcasts entitled ‘Turning to the Fathers’.

In 2007, Prof. McGuckin was awarded the Order of Stephen the Great, the Gold Cross of Moldavia and Bukovina, by the Romanian Church for distinguished priestly and academic service. Working with Co-Producer Dr. Norris Chumley in 2011 he completed a feature film about monastic prayer life, entitled: 'Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer.' It was over eight years in the making with extensive filming in Sinai,  the Egyptian desert, and the monasteries of Transylvania and Russia. It is now available on iTunes and from Passion River DVD’s.   

He is currently working on a large study, for IVP Academic, of the Church in the first millennium entitled: The Cross Exalted. It is planned as a core graduate level text book for Early Christian studies, to be available in 2014.


The History of Christianity Part 1: The Church of the First Millennium (100-1000) (Fall 2013)

The Byzantine Christian Tradition (Fall 2013)


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