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Howard Paterson Professor of Theology and Public Issues,David Tombs 2020 image
and Director, Centre for Theology and Public Issues MA(Oxford), STM(Union Theological Seminary, NY), MA, PhD(London)

Course adviser for MTheol and PhD students
Room 4S8, Arts Building
Tel +64 3 479 8450

David Tombs took up the Director role at the Centre and the Howard Paterson Chair of Theology and Public Issues in January 2015. David is an Anglican lay theologian and his work focusses on contextual and liberation theologies, theologies of reconciliation, and the cross. He also writes on how churches can make better responses to spiritual and sexual abuses. His research has pioneered the study of crucifixion as a form of torture, an instrument of state terror, and an open opportunity for sexual harm.

His publications include When Did We See You Naked?: Jesus as a Victim of Sexual Abuse’ (co-edited with Jayme Reaves and Rocío Figueroa, SCM 2021), and The Crucifixion of Jesus: Torture, Sexual Abuse, and the Scandal of the Cross (Routledge, 2023).

Originally from the United Kingdom, David previously lectured at the University of Roehampton, London, and the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

View David's Inaugural Professorial Lecture"Latin American Liberation Theology and its Ongoing Legacy"


  • CHTH233 Faith in the Public Square
  • CHTH333 Faith in the Public Square (Advanced)
  • CHTH305 The Roots of Public Theology
  • CHTH405 The Roots of Public Theology (Advanced)
  • CHTH319 Reconciliation, Christian Ethics and Public Theology
  • CHTH415 Reconciliation, Christian Ethics and Public Theology (Advanced)

Current Postgraduate Students

  • Robert Fakafu (PhD) The Forau model: The Diaspora experiences of a relocated people in the face of climate change with special reference to the Polynesian people of Tikop
  • Tamsyn Kereopa (PhD) A Wahine Maori Theology of Liberation

Recent Postgraduate Students

  • Gray Baldwin (MTheol) Creation Care: A New Direction for the Oikoumene
  • Latuivai Latu (PhD) Honouring Tautua As Suli: A Postcolonial Reading of Identity Politics in Samoan Jurisprudence and Relational Hermeneutics
  • Sarah Pidgeon (MTheol) Nobody Heard Us: A theological response to the contextual hearings of the Royal Commission on Abuse in Care in New Zealand


Tombs, D. (2024). Art depicts Jesus in a loincloth on the cross: The brutal truth is he would have been naked. The Conversation. Retrieved from Journal - Research Other

Chopp, R. S., Regan, E., & Tombs, D. (2024). Latin American liberation theology. In R. Muers, A. Cocksworth & D. F. Ford (Eds.), Ford's The modern theologians: An introduction to Christian theology since 1918. (4th ed.) (pp. 39-52). Wiley Blackwell. Chapter in Book - Research

Figueroa, R., & Tombs, D. (2024). Discipline, obedience, and punishments: Spiritual abuse as an enabler of sexual abuse within Sodalicio. In V. Lecaros & A. L. Suárez (Eds.), Abuse in the Latin American Church: An evolving crisis at the core of Catholicism. (pp. 177-195). Abingdon, UK: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781003401513-16 Chapter in Book - Research

Figueroa, R., Hungyo, A., & Tombs, D. (2023). 'If people in the church knew': Purity, stigma and victim-blaming. Canonist, 14(2), 280-291. Journal - Research Article

Tombs, D. (2023). Alone and naked: Reading the torture of Jesus alongside the torture of Miriam Leitão. International Journal of Public Theology, 17, 537-557. doi: 10.1163/15697320-20230102 Journal - Research Article

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