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Terrence Tilley

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

Professor Emeritus

General Information



Terrence W. Tilley is 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 will hold the Alan Richardson Fellowship in Durham University (UK) in Epiphany Term, 2016. 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 scores of scholarly articles and reviews, ten books, and editor of three additional books. His most recent book is Faith: What It Is and What It Isn't (Orbis Books, 2010; now in its fourth printing).

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 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 is married to Professor Maureen Tilley. They have two adult daughters, Elena DeStefano and Christine Dyer.


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

Research Interests

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.

On faculty fellowship (research leave) in AY 2015, Tilley is working on articles and an anticipated book-length manuscript on The Brothers Karamazov. In addition to the Richardson Fellowship, he is lecturing at Chaminade University, Honolulu; Sankt Georgen Graduate School for Philosophy and Theology, Frankfurt/Main, Germany; and St. Norbert's College, De Pere, WI.


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