Donald Fairbairn (born August 31, 1963) is a scholar specializing in patristic soteriology and Cyril of Alexandria who currently teaches at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Donald Fairbairn
Dr. Donald Fairbairn.png
Donald MacAllister Fairbairn, Jr

(1963-08-31) August 31, 1963 (age 55)
TitleRobert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity
Spouse(s)Jenifer Katona
ChildrenDonald III, Anna
Academic background
EducationPrinceton University, 1985: A.B. in English Literature
Denver Seminary, 1989: M.Div
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge, 1999: Ph.D in Patristics
Academic work
InstitutionsGordon-Conwell Theological Seminary



Fairbairn graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University with an A.B. in English literature.[1] During his time at Princeton he was awarded the "Class of 1859 Prize" which was awarded to the student in the English department with the highest graduating GPA. He then began an M.Div program at Erskine Theological Seminary in Due West, South Carolina where he was awarded the Kenneth Fitzhugh Morris Award for excellence in Biblical studies. After two years of study at Erskine he transferred to Denver Seminary where he graduated with honors, having been awarded the Scholarship Award for being the M.Div graduate with the highest GPA. In 1999 Fairbairn was awarded the Ph.D in Patristics from the University of Cambridge where he completed a dissertation titledGrace and Christology in Cyril of Alexandria and John Cassian under Lionel Wickham.[2]

Teaching careerEdit

Despite being nearly completely deaf,[3] Fairbairn has taught at various institutions, including adjunct roles at the Cambridge Summer School of Theology, Denver Seminary, the Greek Biblce Institute, Haddington House, IFES Eurasia, North Caucaus Bible College, the REALIS Institute in Kiev. While still a PhD student at Cambridge he was teaching multiple courses and provided academic leadership at Donetsk Christian University in Donetsk (Ukraine), during the institution's formative years, and he continued there as a visiting professor of theology later on. He also teaches part-time as a professor of Historical Theology at Evangelische Theologische Faculteit in Leuven. He is currently the Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina (where he also serves as the Academic Dean[4]) and previously taught full-time at Erskine Theological Seminary.[5]

Published worksEdit


  • Fairbairn, Donald (2002). Eastern Orthodoxy Through Western Eyes. Louisville, KY: Westminster, John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0-664-22497-4. OCLC 50796507.[6]
  • ——— (2006). Grace and Christology in the Early Church. Oxford early Christian studies. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-929710-8. OCLC 50774358.[7]
  • ——— (2009). Life in the Trinity: an introduction to theology with the help of the church fathers. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. ISBN 978-0-8308-3873-8. OCLC 421949576.[8]
  • ——— (2011). Understanding Language: a guide for beginning students of Greek and Latin. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press. ISBN 978-0-8132-1866-3. OCLC 690585354.[9]
  • ——— (2013). Correspondence on Christology and Grace. Fathers of the Church. 126. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press. ISBN 978-0-8132-0126-9. OCLC 818292783.[10]

Journal articles and ChaptersEdit

  • ——— (June 1998). "Salvation as Theosis: The Teaching of Eastern Orthodoxy". Themelios. 23 (2): 42–54.
  • ——— (1999). "Orthodox Supremacy in Russia: Is There a Place for Evangelicalism?". In Linzey, Sharon; Kaisch, Ken. God in Russia: the Challenge of Freedom. Lanham: University Press of America. pp. 288–314. ISBN 978-0-7618-1548-8.[11]
  • ——— (2000). "John Cassian". In Hart, Trevor A; Bauckham, Richard. The Dictionary of Historical Theology. Paternoster Press. ISBN 978-1-84227-002-8.[12]
  • ——— (2003). "Eastern Orthodox Mystical Theology". In Partridge, Christopher Hugh; Gabriel, Theodore P C. Mysticisms East and West: studies in mystical experience. Paternoster. ISBN 978-1-84227-092-9.[13]
  • ——— (2005). "The Puzzle of Theodoret's Christology: A Modest Suggestion". The Journal of Theological Studies. 58 (1): 100–133. doi:10.1093/jts/fll159. ISSN 0022-5185.
  • ——— (2006). "Is the Early Church Relevant to the Scottish Reformation?". Haddington House Journal. 8 (Supplemental Issue): 7–28.
  • ——— (2007). "Patristic Exegesis and Theology: the Cart and the Horse". Westminster Theological Journal. 69 (1): 1–19. ISSN 0043-4388.[14]
  • ——— (2007). "Allies or Merely Friends? John of Antioch and Nestorius in the Christological Controversy". The Journal of Ecclesiastical History. 58 (3): 383. doi:10.1017/S0022046907001558. ISSN 0022-0469.
  • ——— (June 2007). "Patristic Soteriology: Three Trajectories". Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 50 (2): 289–301. ISSN 0360-8808.[15]
  • ——— (2007). "The One Person Who Is Jesus Christ: The Patristic Perspective". In Sanders, Fred; Issler, Klaus. Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective. B&H Publishing Group. pp. 80–113. ISBN 978-0-8054-4422-3.[16]
  • ——— (2009). "Contemporary Millennial/Tribulational Debates: Whose Side Was the Early Church On?". In Blomberg, Craig L.; Sung Wook Chung. Case for Historic Premillennialism, A: An Alternative to "Left Behind" Eschatology. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group. pp. 105–132. ISBN 978-0-8010-3596-8.[17]
  • ——— (2013). "Justification in St. Cyril of Alexandria, with Some Implications for Ecumenical Dialogue". Participatio: Journal of the Thomas F. Torrance Theological Fellowship. T F Torrance Theological Fellowship. 4: 123–146.[18]