Revd Dr John Binns

NameJohn Binns,


In forty years of ordained ministry in the Church of England, I have combined work as a parish priest with various responsibilities working in relations between eastern and western churches.  I’ve done research and writing, ecumenical relations and community development projects.  As a parish priest I retired in 2017 after, most recently, over 20 years as vicar of Great St Mary’s the University Church Cambridge.  Alongside that, I am Visiting Professor and a founding director of the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge, am chair of trustees of Partners for Change Ethiopia, and a trustee of the Aradin Trust supporting Christians in Iraq.  I now live just outside Lichfield and hold a permission to officiate in the diocese.

MA1974St Johns College Cambridge
PhD1987Kings College London
Roles and Responsibilities
I been involved in the Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies since its formation in 1999.  I have lectured in various places, including St George’s College, Jerusalem and various colleges and ecumenical foundations in Russia, Romania and Ethiopia.

I have been a parish priest in the dioceses of Southwark and Ely.  As vicar of Great St Mary’s, I developed ministries in multi-faith chaplaincy for the University of Cambridge, heritage projects for local schools and a café/art gallery mission centre.

I was a canon of Ely Cathedral, rural dean of North Cambridge and a member of the bishop’s council.

I work with Partners for Change Ethiopia, a community development agency based in Addis Ababa, and also the Aradin Trust whose projects support Christians in Iraq.

Research Interests and Supervision
As a student, I spent six months in 1974 at the Serbian Orthodox Theological Faculty at Belgrade, a steep learning curve living in a church and society still part of Communist Eastern Europe. I have continued to share in both eastern and western church traditions. I completed a PhD on Palestinian Byzantine monasticism (thesis title ‘Cyril of Scythopolis and the Monasteries of Palestine’), and visited Jerusalem on several occasions including spending a month as visiting professor at St George’s College Jerusalem.  I later researched Eastern Orthodoxy in various settings and wrote a book on this for the University Press at Cambridge. A second formative experience was a three month sabbatical in 1992 when I first visited Ethiopia.  This led to a major study project on the Christian traditions of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopiawhich led to publication of the first book in English on the history and theological traditions of this ancient – and large – church.  Most recently, I have completed a book on the monastic, spiritual and ascetic traditions of Eastern Christianity, which is to be published by IB Tauris.  My approach to theology is pastoral rather than academic, and it has been important to me to combine parish ministry with theological research. I have also worked in community development in Ethiopia, and ecumenical relations in the UK, which has led to projects in eastern Europe and Russia.

I can supervise study in many areas of Eastern Christianity.


Cyril of Scythopolis, The Lives of the Monks of Palestine (Cistercian Press, Kalamazoo, Michigan 1992) with R.M.Price.

Ascetics and Ambassadors of Christ, the Monasteries of Palestine 314-631 (Oxford University Press 1994).

Great St Mary’s Cambridge’s University Church (Cambridge University Press 2000) – edited and contributed, with P.Meadows.

An Introduction to the Christian Orthodox Churches (Cambridge University Press 2002).

The Orthodox Church of Ethiopia, A History (I B Tauris London 2016)
The I B Tauris History of Monasticism; the Eastern Tradition (I B Tauris London forthcoming).

Journal articles and chapters

‘The Concept of Sacred Space in the Monasteries of Byzantine Palestine’ in ed T.Insole Case Studies in Archeology and World Religion (BAR International Series 755 Oxford 1999) 26-32.

‘Sodruzestvo svyatago mucenika Albana i prep Sergiya v poslednie godi’ (The Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius in latter years) in Sobornost (Oxford 1998) 37-40.

Preface in Nicolas Stebbing: Bearers of the Spirit (Cistercian Publications Kalamazoo Michigan 2003) xiii-xxii.

‘Theological Education in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church’ Journal of Adult Theological Education 2.2:Oct 2005: 103-113.

‘Modern Spirituality and the Orthodox Church’ in ed M.Angold  Cambridge History of Christianity, vol 5, Eastern Christianity (Cambridge 2006) 580-599

Review article: John McGuckin: The Orthodox Church in Logos 50(2009)189-196.


Regular book reviews in the Church Times, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Journal of Theological Studies.

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