Nathan Lefler, Ph.D.

Professor of Theology/Religious Studies

Nathan Lefler holds a PhD in Systematic Theology from The Catholic University of America (2008), an MA in Religion from Yale Divinity School (1999), and a BA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago (1992). His doctoral and early research focused on the relative merits of monastic vs. scholastic theology in the high Middle Ages, while sustaining an active commitment to the field of biblical theology and the related theological topoi of revelation and inspiration. Increasingly, his research interests have moved in the direction of a rigorous theological engagement with such literary figures as Flannery O’Connor and J. R. R. Tolkien, and most recently, into a critical engagement with the thought of René Girard.

Courses Taught


Research Interests – Patristic and Medieval Theology

  • The thought of St. Augustine
  • The Rule of St. Benedict
  • The theological thought of St. Thomas Aquinas
  • The thought of Aelred of Rievaulx
  • The thought of St. Anselm
  • The thought of St. Bonaventure

Research Interests – Biblical Theology

  • Biblical Revelation, Inspiration, Inerrancy and related topics
  • The Relation between the Two Testaments
  • Biblical Interpretation/Hermeneutics, Including the Fourfold Reading of Scripture
  • Biblical Acrostics and Alphabetic Thinking in Hebrew Scripture 

Research Interests – Modern Theology:

  • The thought of Hans Urs von Balthasar
  • The literary, expository and epistolary work of Flannery O’Connor
  • The literary, expository and epistolary work of J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The anthropology and psychology, both fundamental and theological, of René Girard 

Select Publications:

  • Two Kinds of Unanimity: St. Benedict, René Girard, and Modern Democratic GovernanceContagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture, vol. 26, 2019, pp. 273–286. 
  • Theologizing Friendship: How Amicitia in the Thought of Aelred and Aquinas Inscribes the Scholastic Turn, Wipf and Stock (Pickwick Publications imprint), 2014.
  • “Two Kinds of Unanimity: St. Benedict, René Girard, and Modern Democratic Governance,” Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture, forthcoming, Spring, 2019.
  • “Tolkien’s Sub-Creation and Secondary Worlds: Implications for a Robust Moral Psychology,” Journal of Tolkien Research, Vol. 4:2 (2017).
  • “A Threefold Preparation for Death: Approaching the Heart of Flannery O’Connor’s Anagogical Vision,” Logos, Vol. 20:1 (Winter 2017).
  • “Naming God’s Language: Theological Implications of the Use of Acrostic as a Structural Device in Some Proverbs and Psalms,” Anamnesis, No. 5 (2016).
  • “A Curricular Experiment in Sacramental Edification and Instruction,” Usus Antiquior, Vol. 3:1 (January 2012).
  • “Saint Augustine’s Hermeneutics of Friendship: A Consideration of De Utilitate Credendi, 10-13, with Special Reference to Confessions, Book VIII,” Augustinian Studies, Vol. 41:2, 2010 (copyright 2011).
  • The Tragedy of King Lear: Redeeming Christ?” Literature and Theology, Vol. 24:3 (September 2010).
  • “The Melchizedek Traditions in Hebrews,” Pro Ecclesia, Vol. 16: 1 (Winter 2007). 
  • “Cruciform Beauty: Revising the Form in Balthasar’s Christological Aesthetic,” Logos, Vol. 9:4 (Fall 2006).
  • “Sign, Cause, and Person in St. Thomas’s Sacramental Theology: Further Considerations,” Nova et Vetera, Vol. 4 :2 (Spring 2006).
  • “Hearts of Flesh: The Epistemological Donum of Christian Personalism,” Fides Quaerens Intellectum, Vol. 2:2 (Spring 2003).
  • Conversation, Friendship and Transformation: Contemporary and Medieval Voices in a Theology of Discourse, by Jennifer Constantine Jackson: Review for Modern Theology, Vol. 33:3 (October 2017).
  • Transformations in Biblical Literary Traditions: Incarnation, Narrative, and Ethics: Essays in Honor of David Lyle Jeffrey, Edited by D. H. Williams and Phillip J. Donnelly: Review for Church History, Vol. 85:1 (March 2016).

Recent Presentations:

  • “J. R. R. Tolkien as Magister: Lessons Plucked from the Web of Story, Sap Sucked from the Tree of Tales,” on philosophy and theology in Tolkien, to Wyoming Seminary High School, Kingston, PA, November 8, 2018.
  • “Two Kinds of Unanimity: St. Benedict, René Girard, and Modern Democratic Governance” for the Annual Meeting of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion, Denver, CO, July 11-14, 2018.
  • Seminar Class on Biblical Hebrew, to students of Canongate Catholic High School, Arden, NC, January 2018.
  • Evening seminar on Billy Budd, by Herman Melville, for seniors from St. Gregory’s Academy, March 4, 2017.


Nathan Lefler CV
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