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2014 Gifford Lecture Series: University of Edinburgh

What is Caesar’s? Adjudicating Faith in Modern Constitutional Democracies to be held on Monday 19 May 2014. [More…]

2014 Gifford Lecture Series: University of Glasgow

Givenness and Revelation begins Tuesday 20 May 2014. [More…]

YouTube Channel

Gifford Lectures now has a YouTube Channel! [More…]


A new Gifford Lectures page for St. Andrews. [More…]

Eight Books Based on Gifford Lectures

Eight books derived from the Gifford lectures are available. [More…]


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Austin Marsden Farrer

1904 - 1968

Warden, Keble College, Oxford



Austin Farrer, born in 1904, was “the greatest mind produced by the Church of England” in the twentieth century, according to Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford. The son of Augustus Farrer, a lecturer in church history at Regent's Park College, London, Farrer was educated at St. Paul's School in London. He then went to Oxford, where he earned three first-class degrees, in classical moderations, “greats” (arts and letters) and theology.
Although he was raised in a Baptist family, Farrer made a decision to join the Church of England. In 1928 he was ordained a deacon and the following year a priest. After a year with a parish, he became chaplain and tutor in St. Edmund Hall at Oxford (1931-1935). He then was named chaplain of Trinity College (1935-1960). His final post was as Warden of Keble College (1960-1968).
Farrer is well known for his work on what is recognized as the synoptic problem, that is, the similarities among the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. In 1955 he wrote “On Dispensing with Q,” which addresses other scholars’ theory that the Gospels had an additional source, Q. The “Farrer theory” postulates that Mark was written first and then Matthew, the author of which used Mark as a source. Finally, the author of Luke used both previous sources.
Among Farrer’s writings are Finite and Infinite: A Philosophical Essay (1943); The Glass of Vision (1948; from Bampton Lectures); The Freedom of the Will (1958; from Gifford Lectures); Lord, I Believe: Suggestions for Turning the Creed Into Prayer (1962); The Triple Victory: Christ’s Temptation According to St. Matthew (1963); Saving Belief (1964); God Is Not Dead (1966); Faith and Speculation (1967); Reflective Faith: Essays in Philosophical Theology (1972); End of Man (1974); The Brink of Mystery (1976); and Interpretation and Belief (1976). He was also the subject of numerous works, including Philip Curtis’s biography A Hawk Among Sparrows, Divine Action: Studies Inspired by the Philosophical Theology of Austin Farrer and The Truth-Seeking Heart: Austin Farrer and His Writings, edited by Ann Loades and Robert MacSwain.
Farrer died in December 1968 at the age of 64. His influence continues, however, as evidenced by the collections of his writings still being published, the number of studies about his work, and even a Facebook page.
Therese Boyd
Templeton Press