Gunning Lectures

The Victoria Jubilee Gunning Lectures have been part of the School for over a century. They are the result of an endowment from Robert Halliday Gunning, set up in Queen Victoria’s Silver Jubilee year of 1887/8.

Born to a large family in 1818 in Dumfriesshire, Robert Gunning studied medicine in Edinburgh and was licensed by the Royal College of Surgeons. He pursued a career in academic medicine, teaching anatomy at Aberdeen and then Edinburgh to great renown. He was part of a small group that pioneered the use of chloroform on patients, and was associated in Edinburgh with a number of prominent ‘divines’, including Thomas Chalmers who laid the foundation stone to New College in 1846. In 1849, he and his wife emigrated to Brazil because of the warmer climate, where they remained for 33 years, and amongst other things managed a gold mine, oversaw the construction of a railway in Rio de Janeiro, and financed various schemes to alleviate poverty.

On his return to Edinburgh, Gunning set up several prizes and lectureships around the city, not only to New College but also to the Royal Society, the Royal College of Surgeons, and the Royal Society of Antiquaries. Displaying a particularly progressive attitude for his day, he set up bursaries for women to study medicine and financed a plaque in St Giles cathedral to commemorate Jenny Geddes who threw her stool at the Dean in protest at a new liturgy.

The lectures were set up to promote the study of Natural Science among the students of New College, specifically to bring to their attention the findings of Science, Philosophy, Language, Antiquity and Sociology. More recent Gunning Lecturers have covered topics including Religious Art, the World Wide Web, Economics, and Gender in Hinduism and Islam.

Past Lectures

Year Lecturer Title and Publication Details (if it exists)
1910-11 David Watson Social Advance: Its Meaning, Method, and Goal (Hodder & Stoughton 1911)
1925 Richard Bell The Origin of Islam in It's Christian Environment (Macmillan 1926)
1926 Thomas Wilson St. Paul and Paganism (T&T Clark)
1936 John Dickie Fifty Years of British Theology: A Personal Retrospect (T&T Clark 1937)
1953-1954 Norman Sykes Old Priest and New Presbyter (Cambridge 1956)
1955 Michael Foster Mystery and Philosophy (SCM 1957)
1957-1958 Hendrik Kraemer A Theology of Laity (Lutterworth 1958)
1969 Reijer Hooykaas Religion and the Rise of Modern Science (Scottish Academic 1973)
1975 George S. Heyer Signs of our Times Theological Essays on Art in the Twentieth Century (Handsel 1980)
1985 James H. Charlesworth Jesus within Judaism: New Light from Exciting Archaeological Discoveries (Doubleday 1988)
1989 C. S. Song Jesus, the Crucified People (Fortress 1996)
1990 Brian Gerrish  
1993 Rowan Williams 'Myths of the Inner Life'
1993 Emest Best  
1994 C. K. Barrett  
1995-1996 Saul Aaron Kripke  
1997 David Martin 'The Pentecostal Revolution: From Rio to Seoul'
1998 Geza Vermes 'Jesus the Jew and the Dead Sea Scrolls'
1998 Peter Matheson 'The Religious Imagination of the Reformation', published as The Imaginative World of the Reformation (T&T Clark 2000)
2000 Sean Freyn 'Jews, Jesus and Pagans in Hellenistic and Roman Galilee', published as Jesus, a Jewish Galilean: A New Reading of the Jesus Story (T&T Clark 2004)
2000 Graham Ward 'Cultural Ethics: Christian Polity and the World Wide Web'
2001 Neil MacGregor 'Painting Faith in the Public Realm'
2002 Timothy D. Barnes 'The Cult and Relics of Saint Peter'
2002 Grace Jantzen 'On Religious Experience'
2003 Michael O'Siadhail 'The Gossamer Wall: Reflections on Contemporary Life'
2003 George Marsden 'Jonathan Edwards'
2004 Marilyn McCord Adams 'Biting and Chomping our Salvation: Eucharistic Presence Radically Understood'
2004 Reiko Ohnuma 'Hot Potatoes: Gift-giving and the Terror of Reciprocity in Indian Buddhism'
2004 Michael Welker 'God's Revelation, Christology and Eschatology', published as God the Revealed: Christology (Eerdmans 2013)
2004 John J.Collins 'Biblical Studies at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century', published as The Bible After Babel (Eerdmans 2005)
2009 David N.Livingstone  
2012 Richard Hays 'Israel's Scripture Through the Eyes of the Gospel Writers'
2014 Thomas Römer 'The Formation of the Pentateuch'
2015 C. L. Seow 'Consequences of Scripture: The Case of Job'
2016 Richard Swinburne 'The Social Theory of the Trinity'
2016 Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia 'Goddesses of the Seas: A comparative study of the Virgin Mary and Mazu as protectors of seamen in the early modern world'
2016 Robert Baum West Africa's Women Prophets
2018 Anne Taves 'Religion as Worldviews and as Ways of Life'
2018 Devin Singh 'Debt and the Christian Theological Imagination'
2019 Peter Adamson 'Philosophy without Borders' and 'Animals in Philosophy of the Islamic World'
2022 Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad 'Gender and Emotions in a Hindu Epic'
2023 Zahra M. S. Ayubi 'Gender, Authority, and Epistemology in Islamic Medical Ethics'