Shortt, Rupert

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Shortt, Rupert


Education: Attended the University of Oxford and the University of London.


Home—London, England.


Writer, editor, journalist, and theologian. Times Literary Supplement, London, England, religion editor; The Tablet, London, former assistant editor.


Rowan Williams: An Introduction, Morehouse Publishing (Harrisburg,PA), 2003.

God's Advocates: Christian Thinkers in Conversation, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.

Benedict XVI: Commander of the Faith, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2005.


Rupert Shortt is a writer, journalist, and theologian who serves as the religion editor of the Times Literary Supplement. Two of his published works have focused on the lives of influential clergymen and religious figures. In Rowan Williams: An Introduction, Shortt looks at the life of Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and one of Shortt's former Oxford professors. Shortt provides detailed biographical information on Williams's early life, his development as a theologian, his academic career, and his assumption of the position of archbishop. He also considers Williams's philosophy and theology, his spirituality, and his politics, and how these components influence the archbishop's thinking and actions. Shortt does not hesitate to point out Williams's potential shortcomings in areas such as public policy and political engagement, but he "makes it clear that we have a remarkable Archbishop," noted Mark Santer in the Franciscan magazine. "A great merit of this … book is that Shortt knows his subject" through their association at Oxford, stated Santer. Shortt, Santer mused, "is that rare phenomenon, a journalist who is theologically literate." Short's slim volume of 130 pages "can just sketch the outline of its subject's career and thought, but it does so with immense confidence and authority," commented a reviewer in the London Telegraph.

Shortt crafts a biography of another prominent religious figure in Benedict XVI: Commander of the Faith, his study of the life and influences of Josef Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. Shortt carefully examines how the new leader of the Catholic Church approached the world and his duties, and how his thinking will affect the course of the church's actions and its place in the larger world. Shortt delves into Benedict's extensive writings, and conducts more than three dozen interviews with notable religious figures and academics, to construct a cogent analysis of Pope Benedict's viewpoints in the past and in the present. He provides insight into the Pope's attitudes and involvement in church issues such as the ordination of women, the liturgy, and how the church interacts and coexists with the world. The author also looks at some of the more controversial aspects of Ratzinger's background and the contradictions that have grown up around his reputation. Ratzinger, who is "described as gentle, courteous and humorous by some, is seen as the cold, harsh enforcer of internal church repression by others. Shortt does not fall into the trap of portraying this as a simple liberal-conservative split but digs deeper to find the underlying theological foundations of Josef Ratzinger's view of the church," reported Gemma Simmonds in the Independent Catholic News. "Shortt's book is commendable for its balance and thoroughness" of coverage, noted a Publishers Weekly critic. Simmonds named Shortt's study "an even-handed attempt to explain the enigma that is Benedict XVI in his own terms."

God's Advocates: Christian Thinkers in Conversation contains eighteen interviews with "significant (and mostly outstanding) contemporary theologians," commented Jonathan Baker on Presented in a question-and-answer format, the interviews present a "tour d'horizon of contemporary Christian thought and various soundings to assess its state and particularly the ways in which it has recovered its confidence," remarked Tom Ryan in the Australian EJournal of Theology. Among the interviewees are Rowan Williams, Tina Beattie, David Martin, Sarah Coakley, J. Kameron Carter, Stanley Hauerwas, and Samuel Wells. Shortt and his interview subjects cover topics such as theological ethics, Christianity and society, philosophical theology, systematic theology, and black theologies. "There is not a chapter in this book which is not stimulating and rewarding to read," Baker remarked. "The scope of contemporary Christian thought is vast," Ryan stated. "Even the full-time scholar can do little more than be acquainted with developments beyond one's area of special interest. For this reason," Ryan concluded, "this book is a very helpful, and timely, resource."



Guardian (London, England) March 13, 2000, "The Pope's Hypocrisy."

Library Journal, August 1, 2006, David Gibson, "The Rule of Benedict: Pope Benedict XVI and His Clash with the Modern World," review of Benedict XVI: Commander of the Faith, p. 94.

Publishers Weekly, May 15, 2006, review of Benedict XVI, p. 68.

Telegraph (England), August 4, 2003, "The Only Half-Crown Item in a Sixpenny Bazaar," review of Rowan Williams.

Times Literary Supplement, August 1, 2003, review of Rowan Williams, p. 27; August 1, 2003, Robin Gill, "Eirenic Nuances," review of Rowan Williams: An Introduction, p. 27; October 14, 2005, John Habgood, "Gifts and Fragments," review of God's Advocates: Christian Thinkers in Conversation, p. 31.

Theology, March-April, 2004, Stephen Carr, review of Rowan Williams, p. 137.


Australian EJournal of Theology, (March, 2007), Tom Ryan, "Attending the Word: Doorways through Theology, Philosophy, and Literature," review of God's Advocates.

Franciscan, (May, 2004), Mark Santer, review of Rowan Williams.

Independent Catholic News, (March 5, 2007), Gemma Simmonds, review of Benedict XVI.

Morehouse Publishing Website, (August 5, 2007), reviews of Rowan Williams., (August 5, 2007), Jonathan Baker, review of God's Advocates.