J. Warren Smith

J. Warren Smith, Associate Professor of Historical Theology, is interested in the history of theology broadly conceived from the apostles to the present, but his primary focus is upon patristic theology. His book, Passion and Paradise: Human and Divine Emotion in the Thought of Gregory of Nyssa (Crossroad, 2004) is a study of Nyssen’s ascetic theology as the intersection of his anthropology, soteriology, and eschatology. Central to this project is Nyssen’s view of the sublimation and transformation of human emotions and their role in his theory of epectacy, i.e. the soul’s eternal movement into God’s infinite and eternal being. The impetus behind the book was Dr. Smith’s concern for the question of realized eschatology: how can we in the present age live into the eschatological reality inaugurated by Christ’s resurrection? His recent book, Christian Grace and Pagan Virtue: The Theological Foundation of Ambrose’s Ethics (Oxford, 2010), examines how Ambrose’s interpretation of Paul and his understanding of sin’s corruption of human nature and of baptismal regeneration provides the condition for the Christian’s cultivation of virtue. The larger thesis is that Christian ethics can never stand apart from theology, specifically the soteriological role of grace in healing human nature and equipping the Christian for the life of virtue.

Dr. Smith is also a United Methodist minister from the North Carolina Annual Conference. He lives in Durham with his wife, Kimberly Doughty, who is a school social worker, and their children, Katherine and Thomas. His interests outside of Duke Divinity School include hiking, studying the American Civil War and 19th century British history, and ACC basketball (men’s and women’s).


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