Dr. Donald Fairbairn - Gordon Conwell
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Dr. Donald Fairbairn

Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity

Email: [email protected]
First Year at Gordon-Conwell:
Expertise: Patristics, Historical Theology, Eastern Orthodoxy

Dr. Fairbairn is the Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity. His research interests focus on the relation between the doctrines of the Trinity, Christ, salvation and Christian life in the early church, especially in the 4th through 6th centuries.

After graduating from seminary in 1989, Dr. Fairbairn ministered in Soviet Georgia for a year and then taught theology, New Testament and apologetics at Donetsk Christian University in Ukraine from 1992-96. He also served as Assistant Academic Dean there. Since that time, he has continued to teach in Eastern and Western Europe through many short-term trips. Three of his English books have been published in Russian and two in Romanian. He has also written two books published only in Russian.

After finishing his PhD in 1999, Dr. Fairbairn taught church history, Greek, Latin and historical theology at Erskine Theological Seminary in Due West, SC. He also served as Associate Dean of Theology and directed the ThM program there before coming to Gordon-Conwell in 2010.

Dr. Fairbairn and his wife Jennifer have two children, Trey (born in 2001) and Ella (born in 2003). His hobbies include golf, gardening, and playing with his dogs.


  • AB (Princeton University)
  • MDiv (Denver Seminary)
  • PhD (University of Cambridge)

Featured Publications

Select List of Publications

  • The Global Church—The First Eight Centuries: From Pentecost through the Rise of Islam. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic, forthcoming March 2021.
  • The Story of Creeds and Confessions: Tracing the Development of the Christian Faith (co-authored with Ryan M. Reeves). Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2019.
  • “Unknowable or Unknown God? Evangelical Tensions.” Pages 258-266 in The Book of Acts: Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical Readings. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2019.
  • “Fides Quae Creditur? The Nicene Background to the Reformation.” In Reformation Celebration: The Significance of Scripture, Grace, Faith, and Christ. Edited by Gordon Isaac and Eckhard J. Schnabel. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2018.
  • “Chalcedon, Council of,” “Ephesus, Council of,” and “Nestorius/Nestorianism.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017.
  • “The Sardican Paper, Antiochene Politics, and the Council of Alexandria (362): Developing the ‘Faith of Nicaea.’” The Journal of Theological Studies 66 (2015): 651-678.
  • Fulgentius of Ruspe and the Scythian Monks: Correspondence on Christology and Grace (co-translated with Rob Roy McGregor) The Fathers of the Church 126. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2013.
  • “Justification in St. Cyril of Alexandria, with some Implications for Ecumenical Dialogue.” Participatio: The Journal of the Thomas F. Torrance Theological Fellowship 4 (2013): 132-155.
  • “The Synod of Ancyra (358) and the Question of the Son’s Creaturehood.” The Journal of Theological Studies 64 (2013): 111-136.
  • Understanding Language: A Guide for Beginning Students of Greek & Latin. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2011.
  • Life in the Trinity: An Introduction to Theology with the Help of the Church Fathers. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009.
  • “Contemporary Millennial/Tribulational Debates: Whose Side Was the Early Church On?” Pages 105-131 in A Case for Historic Premillennialism. Edited by Craig L. Blomberg and SungWook Chung. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.
  • “Allies or Merely Friends? John of Antioch and Nestorius in the Christological Controversy.” The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 58 (2007): 383-399.
  • “Patristic Soteriology: Three Trajectories.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 50 (2007): 289-310.
  • “The Puzzle of Theodoret’s Christology: A Modest Suggestion.” The Journal of Theological Studies 58 (2007): 100-133.
  • “The One Person Who Is Jesus Christ: The Patristic Perspective.” Pages 80-113 in Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective: An Introductory Christology. Edited by Fred Sanders and Klaus Issler. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2007.
  • Grace and Christology in the Early Church. Oxford Early Christian Studies. Oxford: University Press, 2003.
  • Eastern Orthodoxy through Western Eyes. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002.

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