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Eric Lionel Mascall

Professor of Historical Theology, University of London
1905 to 1993

Eric Lionel Mascall was born on 12 December 1905 in Seaford, East Sussex. As a young student at Latymer Upper School he showed an aptitude for mathematics which earned him a scholarship to Pembroke College Cambridge. In 1931 he entered Ely Theological College and after two years was ordained in the Church of England. He served in various London parishes until 1937 when he went to Lincoln Theological College as the newly appointed Sub-warden. He joined the Oratory of the Good Shepherd in 1938 a community of Anglicans bound to celibate chastity, responsible spending and direction in life.

Mascall also served at Christ Church Oxford and at King’s College London. He was awarded a Doctor of Divinity by Oxford in 1948 and another by Cambridge in 1958 and was elected a fellow of the British Academy in 1974.

During his service he generally supported Thomism (or Neo-Thomism) although his work is so diverse that it makes his school of thought hard to classify. He supported both logic and precision in the statement of religious beliefs and insisted that the beliefs be rational although he also believed that divine revelation could lead one to beliefs unknowable by reason alone. He was a leading theologian in the Anglo-Catholic tradition and he preached, lectured on and published philosophical and theological arguments on varied topics and supporting or criticizing a wide range of authors. Most of the works in his forty years of writing were published under the name of E. L. Mascall and while his work shows coherence throughout, he did not specialise in one topic or range of topics nor did he invent new systems or coin new terminology. He was extremely well educated in the natural sciences and his doctrinal theology works supported the integration of theology.

Mascall retired in 1973 but continued to live in the clergy house under the title of Honorary Assistant Priest as he was an only child and never married. Upon retirement he was appointed Canon Theologian of Truro Cathedral. He passed away aged eighty-seven on 14 February 1993.