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Dr. Donald Fairbairn

Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity, Director of the Cooley Center

First Year at Gordon-Conwell: 2010
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. His responsibilities include further developing the Robert C. Cooley Center for the Study of Early Christianity at the Charlotte campus, which explores the historical foundations of the Christian faith.

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 Ph.D. in 1999, Dr. Fairbairn taught at 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 Th.M. 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, photography, and reading to his children.


  • A.B. (Princeton University)
  • M.Div. (Denver Seminary)
  • Ph.D. (University of Cambridge)


  • The Story of Creeds and Confessions: Tracing the Development of the Christian Faith (with Ryan M. Reeves) (Baker Academic, 2019)
  • Fulgentius of Ruspe and the Scythian Monks: Correspondence on Christology and Grace (translated with Rob Roy McGregor) (Catholic University of America Press, 2013)
  • Understanding Language: A Guide for Beginning Students of Greek & Latin (Catholic University of America Press, 2011)
  • Life in the Trinity: An Introduction to Theology with the Help of the Church Fathers (IVP Academic, 2009)
  • Grace and Christology in the Early Church (Oxford University Press, 2003)
  • Eastern Orthodoxy through Western Eyes (Westminster John Knox Press, 2002)

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