The Revd James M Matarazzo Jr, BA (Bates College), MDiv (Union Theological Seminary)

The Revd James M Matarazzo Jr, BA (Bates College), MDiv (Union Theological Seminary)

DPhil Candidate Systematic Theology

Dissertation Title

The Judgment of Love: Salvific Judgment in Christian Eschatology

Academic Profile

I majored in history for my BA at Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, USA. I then studied theology at New College, University of Edinburgh, for one year returning to the United States to complete my Master of Divinity degree at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. From 1996 to 2011, I worked in the HIV field, first in public health, then in research administration at Tufts and Brown Universities, and finally in HIV-related international development starting in 2004 with the World Council of Churches. I moved to the UK in 2007 to work for Christian Aid in London. My work has taken me to just under 50 countries and territories. In 2011, I decided to pursue a mid-career PhD course at the University of Glasgow in Systematic Theology with Professor Werner Jeanrond as my supervisor. In autumn 2012, I transferred to the University of Oxford’s DPhil course in order to accompany my supervisor who had been appointed Master of St Benet’s Hall. I am a native of Boston, Massachusetts and I am an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ (USA) and I hold ordained standing in the Church of Scotland and the Lutheran Church in Great Britain (Porvoo Communion). At Oxford, I am involved in ministry as Associate Chaplain of Herford College.

Research Interests

The aim of my research is to explore the concept of salvific judgment with a particular focus on modern Western and Eastern approaches. I define salvific judgment aphoristically as iudicandus est salvandus (‘to be judged is to be saved’). I understand salvation to mean the acts of God in Christ reconciling human persons to God’s self, to one another, and to our own selves. My working assumption is that divine judgment is the judgment of love – for the Judge is understood ontologically to be love itself (1 John 4:16). To state this another way, ‘God is love precisely in judgment.’

In modern Western theology, the works of Balthasar, Barth, Küng, Moltmann, Rahner and JAT Robinson have particular import. I have also explored the christology of Marilyn McCord Adams and her eschatological claims. In twentieth century and current Eastern theology, my investigations have been focused primarily on the works of Sergei Bulgakov (1871-1944).

My research of what could be called salvific optimism has resulted in a greater exploration and reinterpretation of the ‘last things’ (de novissimis), i.e., death, judgment, heaven, and hell. I also further develop the idea of salvific judgment as the eschatological event of absolute recognition, i.e., the absolute recognition of rational creatures by God in Christ. This broader definition makes use of some of the ideas in the philosophy of recognition in the works of GWF Hegel, Paul Ricoeur, and Axel Honneth.


Ulrich Schmiedel and James M. Matarazzo, Jr., eds. Dynamics of Difference: Christianity and Alterity. A Festschrift for Werner G. Jeanrond. London: Bloomsbury/T&T Clark, 2015.

Conference Presentations

Paper presentation at the HIV and Religion Seminar, Annual Meeting, American Academy of Religion on “Prayer Alone Is Not Enough: faith-based responses to HIV in El Salvador, Yemen, and Zimbabwe”. Baltimore, November 2015.

Paper at the Oxford-Bonn Theology Seminar, “The Larger Hope: Divine Judgment in Optimistic Soteriology”, University of Oxford, September 2015

Paper at the St Benet’s Hall-University of Marburg Graduate Theology Workshop: “Salvific Judgment”, University of Oxford, June 2015

Paper at the Hertford College Graduate Conference: “The Larger Hope: Divine Judgment in Optimistic Soteriology”, University of Oxford, May 2015

Conference Sermon, ‘Shekinat El’, Interpreting Experience - Experiencing Interpretation: Im/Possibilities of a Hermeneutics of Religious Experience Conference, University of Oxford, April 2014

Response to paper by Professor Cornelia Richter at the Oxford-Bonn Theology Seminar on “Is it Time for a New Kind of Apologetic Theology?” University of Bonn, September 2013.

Co-organiser, 'Eschatology and History', Graduate Theology Society (GTS) Conference, Ertegun House, University of Oxford, July 2013

Paper presentation at the International Symposium on Theology in the Midst of Contemporary Rationalities: “A Tense Unity: Sergei Bulgakov, Rational Antinomy and the Role of Theology”. Université Catholique de Louvain, January 2013.

Workshop presentation at the Oxford Forum for International Development:  ‘Millennium Development Goal 6: HIV and AIDS - The Contribution of Community-based Organizations’. University of Oxford, February 2012.

Paper presentation at the Society for the Study of Theology Postgraduate Conference: ‘AIDS, Church and Salvation: towards a Christian soteriological response to the HIV pandemic’. New College, Edinburgh University, December 2011.

  • The Revd James M Matarazzo Jr, BA (Bates College), MDiv (Union Theological Seminary)
  • DPhil Candidate Systematic Theology