Nigel Biggar

Nigel John Biggar CBE (born 14 March 1955) is a British[3] Anglican priest and theologian. Since 2007, he has been Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford.

Nigel Biggar
Nigel John Biggar

(1955-03-14) 14 March 1955 (age 67)
Castle Douglas, Scotland
Ecclesiastical career
ChurchChurch of England
Academic background
Alma mater
Doctoral advisorJames Gustafson
Academic work

Early lifeEdit

Biggar was born on 14 March 1955 in Castle Douglas, Scotland.[4][5] He was educated at Monkton Combe School, an independent school near Bath, Somerset. He studied modern history at Worcester College, Oxford, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1976: as per tradition, his BA was promoted to a Master of Arts degree in 1988. He attended the University of Chicago, graduating with a Master of Arts degree in religious studies in 1980; and the evangelical Regent College, Vancouver, graduating with a Master of Christian Studies in 1981. He returned to the University of Chicago to study for his doctorate in Christian theology, and completed a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1986.[4]


On his return to Oxford in 1985, Biggar became Librarian and Research Fellow at Latimer House.[4] He additionally taught Christian ethics at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford from 1987 to 1994.[4] He was ordained in the Church of England as a deacon in 1990 and as a priest in 1991.[6] For most of the 1990s, he was Chaplain and Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford. In 1999, he took the Chair of Theology at the University of Leeds, and in 2004 he moved to the Chair of Theology and Ethics at Trinity College, Dublin.[7] Since 2007, he has been Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford.[7][8] He is additionally a canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.[6]

Biggar was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2021 Birthday Honours for services to higher education.[9]

Ethics and Empire projectEdit

In 2017, Biggar initiated a five-year project at Oxford University entitled "Ethics and Empire". Its stated aim was to scrutinise critiques against the historical facts of empire.[10][11] Historians and academics widely criticised the project for 'attempting to balance out the violence committed in the name of empire with its supposed benefits.'[12][13][14] The project also received criticism for failing to engage with the wider scholarship on empire and not submitting itself to peer scrutiny and rigorous academic debate.[14] Biggar addressed the ethics of colonialism in an op-ed for The Times, arguing that the history of the British Empire was morally mixed and that guilt around Britain's colonial legacy may have gone too far. He also defended an article by Bruce Gilley, titled "The Case for Colonialism", asserting that Gilley's appeal for a balanced reappraisal of the colonial past was both courageous and a call for Britain to moderate its post-imperial guilt.[15]

Selected publicationsEdit

  • What's Wrong with Rights?
  • Between Kin and Cosmopolis: An Ethic of the Nation
  • In Defence of War
  • Behaving in Public: How to Do Christian Ethics
  • Burying the Past: Making Peace and Doing Justice After Civil Conflict
  • Aiming to Kill: The Ethics of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
  • The Hastening that Waits: Karl Barth's Ethics
  • Good Life: Reflections on What We Value Today
  • Biggar, Nigel; Hogan, Linda, eds. (2009). Religious Voices in Public Places. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199566624.


  1. ^ Biggar, Nigel (2010). "Karl Barth's Ethics Revisited". In Migliore, Daniel L. (ed.). Commanding Grace: Studies in Karl Barth's Ethics. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-8028-6570-0.
  2. ^ Jensen, David (17 August 2018). "Oxford's Nigel Biggar: Anglicanism Sustains Democracy & Religious Freedom". Juicy Ecumenism. Washington: Institute on Religion and Democracy. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  3. ^ Biggar, Nigel (2 August 2018). "Obsession with Gender Identity Goes Too Far". The Times. London. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d "Biggar, Rev. Canon Prof. Nigel John, (born 14 March 1955), Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, since 2007 and Director, McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics and Public Life, since 2008, University of Oxford; Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, since 2007". Who's Who 2020. Oxford University Press. 1 December 2019. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U245063. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  5. ^ Biggar, Nigel (2014). "Review of Honey from the Lion: Christianity and the Ethics of Nationalism, by Doug Gay". Scottish Journal of Theology. 67 (3): 365. doi:10.1017/S0036930614000167. ISSN 1475-3065.
  6. ^ a b "Nigel John Biggar". Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Professor Nigel Biggar – Christ Church, Oxford University". University of Oxford.
  8. ^ "Professor Nigel Biggar – Faculty of Theology and Religion". University of Oxford.
  9. ^ "No. 63377". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2021. p. B8.
  10. ^ "Ethics and Empire".
  11. ^ Kennedy, Dominic (28 December 2017). "Academics accused of 'stirring up mob' against Nigel Biggar in free speech row". The Times. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  12. ^ McDougall, James (3 January 2018). "The History of Empire Isn't About Pride – or Guilt". The Guardian.
  13. ^ Adams, Richard. "Oxford University accused of backing apologists of British colonialism". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  14. ^ a b Wilson, Jon (22 November 2017). "A Collective statement on 'Ethics and Empire'". Medium.
  15. ^ Biggar, Nigel (30 November 2017). "Don't Feel Guilty About Our Colonial History". The Times. (subscription required)
Academic offices
Preceded by Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology