Terrence Tilley

Terrence W. Tilley is the Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ Professor of Catholic Theology.

Professor Emeritus

General Information

Email: [email protected]

  • Terrence W. Tilley retired in 2017 as the Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, Professor of Catholic Theology. He has taught previously at Georgetown University, St. Michael’s College (Vermont), Florida State University, and the University of Dayton; he also served as department chair at Dayton (1994-2003) and Fordham (2006-2013). He is a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, the Society for Philosophy of Religion, and the College Theology Society. He is the author of eleven books, editor of three books, and the author of scores of scholarly articles and reviews. His most recent books are Faith: What It Is and What It Isn’t (Orbis Books, 2010; now in its fourth printing) and The Karamazov Case: Dostoevsky’s Argument for His Vision (T. and T. Clark, 2023). 

    Tilley has won numerous awards for his publications from the College Theology Society and the Catholic Press Association. He was named “Professor of the Year” by the St. Michael’s College Class of 1983. He received teaching awards from Florida State (1991, 1994) and the annual award for outstanding scholarship from Dayton (2001). The Graduate Theological Union named him its Alum of the Year in 2009 and in 2012 he received the John Courtney Murray Award for Distinguished [Lifetime]Achievement in Theology from the Catholic Theological Society of America. In recognizing him, the Society said, “Our honoree has shown himself to be a most imaginative Catholic thinker, especially concerned to highlight the pragmatic dimensions of belief and practice often overlooked by theologians who approach the Catholic tradition philosophically only by appeal to metaphysics or through the history of ideas. [. . .] Ever concerned about the theological encounter between the epistemological question of how reason knows and the ecclesial question of how faith believes and acts, his career-long work continues to make an important contribution to theology’s traditional task of faith seeking understanding.”

    He was married to Professor Maureen Tilley who died in 2016. They have two adult daughters, Elena DeStefano and Christine Dyer. He is married to Patricia Symkowick (2023).

  • AB ,The University of San Francisco
    PhD, The Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley

  • In philosophy of religion, he has lectured and written on the problem of evil, the reasonableness (or lack thereof) of religious faith, and the meanings of religious language. In theology, he has explored the realms of narrative theology, the significance of historical investigations for understanding religious traditions, the ways for theologians to conceive of and account for religious diversity, the practices of Christian discipleship, and, more generally, the practices through which one lives in and lives out faith traditions (including the practice of believing). His work is shaped by a variety of intellectual currents, including speech-act theory, Anglo-American analytical and pragmatic philosophy, hermeneutical theory, critical theory, structuralist and post-structuralist theory, and scholarship on the history and Scriptures of Christianity.

    He was awarded the Richardson Fellowship at Durham University for Spring 2016, but had to withdraw due to family reasons. He has lectured at Chaminade University, Honolulu; College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA; Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI; University of Saint Thomas, St. Paul, MN; The University of Calgary, Canada; Gonzaga University, Spokane WA; St. Michael’s College, Winookski, VT; Sacred Heart University, Fairfield CT; LeMoyne College, Syracuse NY ;Lewis University, Romeoville, IL; College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, MN; DePaul University, Chicago, IL; St. Louis University; Georgian Court University, Georgian Court University, Lakewood NJ; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Iona College, New Rochelle, NY; Ursuline College, Pepper Pike, OH; Scranton University, Scranton, PA; Boston College; Vatican Observatory, Castel Gandolfo, Italy; Georgetown University, Washington, DC; Franciscan University, Steubenville, OH; St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia; Mercyhurst College, Erie PA; Sankt Georgen Graduate School for Philosophy and Theology, Frankfurt/Main, Germany; and St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI, as well as to numerous organizations' meetings.

    He has been a Visiting Scholar at Duke University, Durham, NC; and at Mater Dei Institute for Religious Education, Dublin, IE. He has participated in seminars at Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Katholieke Universitat, Leuven.

    He has served as an external evaluator of theology/religious studies programs at thirteen colleges or universities. He has served as an external examiner for the four Ph.D. programs internationally.

  • For a complete list of Tilley's publications, please see his CV.