Zahl, Paul F.M. 1951–

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Zahl, Paul F.M. 1951–

(Paul Francis Matthew Zahl)

PERSONAL: Born May 24, 1951, in New York, NY; married Mary McLean Cappleman, 1973; children: John Arthur, David William, Simeon McLean. Education: Attended University of North Carolina, 1968–70; Harvard College, A.B. (magna cum laude), 1972; University of Nottingham, M.Phil., 1975; St. John's Theological College (Nottingham, England), diploma in pastoral studies, 1975; Eberhard-Karls University (Tübingen, Germany), Th.D. (magna cum laude), 1994.

ADDRESSES: Office—Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, 311 11th St., Ambridge, PA 15003.

CAREER: Grace Church, New York, NY, curate, 1976–82; St. Mary's Church, Scarborough, NY, rector, 1982–88; St. James Church, Charleston, SC, rector, 1988–92; Cathedral Church of the Advent, Birmingham, AL, dean, beginning 1995; Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, Ambridge, PA, dean and president. Teacher at General Theological Seminary, New York, NY, 1979–82, King's College, Briarcliff Manor, NY, 1985–88, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, 1990–92, and University of Tübingen, 1992–93; visiting scholar, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, England, 1994–95.

MEMBER: Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS: Episcopal Church Foundation, fellow, 1993–95.


Who Will Deliver Us?: The Present Power of the Death of Christ, Seabury Press (New York, NY), 1983.

Die Rechtfertigungehehre Ernst Kasemanns, Calwer (Stuttgart, Germany), 1996.

The Protestant Face of Anglicanism, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1998.

(Compiler, with C. Frederick Barbee) The Collects of Thomas Cranmer, Eerdmans, 1998.

A Short Systematic Theology, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2000.

Five Women of the English Reformation, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2001.

The First Christian: Universal Truth in the Teachings of Jesus, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2003.

(With Ian T. Douglas) Understanding the Windsor Report: Two Leaders in the American Church Speak across the Divide, Church (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to Exploring the Worship Spectrum: Six Views, edited by Paul A. Basden, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS: Paul F.M. Zahl is an Anglican theologian who writes about rekindling the Reformation spirit in the Episcopal Church. His book The Protestant Face of Anglicanism develops this theme. Though the Episcopal Church clearly grew from a reform movement of the 1600s, its true "face" has become obscured over the years, according to Zahl, and it is in danger of losing its Christ-centric nature. Zahl sees six reasons that this has occurred: first, Protestantism was incorrectly linked with Puritan dissent; second, Anglican Protestantism was later incorrectly linked to Calvinism; third, Anglicans have insisted on church discipline as a mark of a true church; fourth, Anglicans emphasize synthesis over antithesis; fifth, atonement is no longer sought; and sixth, the belief is proliferating that unmediated communion with God obviates the need for a Church altogether. Zahl's remedies include a refocusing on Christ's teachings, a reaffirmation of justification by faith alone, a rekindled trust of reason over tradition, and a renewed emphasis of the Word of God at the center of Episcopal liturgy. Writing for the Times Literary Supplement, contributor David Martin noted: "Whatever your theological sympathies, Zahl's comments on the downgrading of penitence and redemption, the 'false smile' of celebration, the surface Catholicizing over a base of 1960s ideology, have a cogent ring."

Three years later, Zahl published Five Women of the English Reformation, "a scholarly tribute to five courageous women," according to Booklist contributor Margaret Flanagan. Investigating the lives of Anne Boleyn, Jane Grey, Anne Askew, Catherine Wil-loughby, and Katharine Parr, the author constructs a short biography of each woman and examines her contribution to the Protestant movement. Throughout his book, Zahl rejects the notion that these women were only notable for their status in English royal history and instead argues that each of these women were important lay theologians in their own right. Reviewing Five Women of the English Reformation in Church History, critic Merry Wiesner-Hanks noted: "Zahl's placing of the ideas and writings of these women within the changing theological context of their day is very welcome."

In his 2003 book The First Christian: Universal Truth in the Teachings of Jesus, Zahl looks to history to reexamine the role of Jesus and his message. Through his "short and provocative book," according to a First Things critic, Zahl suggests that scholars should concentrate their studies on examining Jesus' groundbreaking concepts about salvation, which changed the course of religious history in the West, rather than continue efforts to identify the historical Jesus, a Jewish man living in Palestine during the reign of King Herod. Applauding Zahl's "cogently and concisely" communicated ideas, Booklist reviewer Ray Olson recommended that "anyone befuddled about Christianity should read [The First Christian] to get a clear idea of the distinctives of Christian belief."



Booklist, November, 2001, Margaret Flanagan, review of Five Women of the English Reformation, p. 2058; October 1, 2003, Ray Olson, review of The First Christian: Universal Truth in the Teachings of Jesus, p. 288.

Church History, June, 2002, Merry Wiesner-Hanks, review of Five Women of the English Reformation, p. 414.

First Things, April, 2004, review of The First Christian, p. 57.

Library Journal, March 1, 1999, Graham Christian, review of The Collects of Thomas Cranmer, p. 92.

Times Literary Supplement, May 22, 1998, David Martin, "In the Republic of Spirit," review of The Protestant Face of Anglicanism, p. 25.