Frank Leslie Cross

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Frank Leslie Cross FBA (1900–1968), Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford, was a British, Anglican patristics scholar and founder of the Oxford International Conference on Patristic Studies and editor of The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (first edition, 1957).[1]


Born in Honiton, the family moved to Bournemouth whilst he was a child, where he won the Domus scholarship for natural science at Balliol College, Oxford, taking Honours in chemistry and crystallography and then, in 1922, following tuition at Keble College, Oxford, First Class Honours in theology. He studied in Marburg and Freiburg im Breisgau, taking a Doctor of Philosophy degree at Oxford in 1930 [2] with a dissertation on Edmund Husserl. He became an ordinand of Ripon College Cuddesdon in 1923 and was ordained in 1925 as tutor and chaplain of that college. In 1927 he became one of the priest-librarians of Pusey House, Oxford, of which he became Custodian in 1934. He was appointed Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford in 1944, by which time his interest in patristics was developing, alongside the beginnings of The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, which was published in 1957. At the time of his death he was working on the second edition.

Post-war he organised international conferences- initially to re-establish relations with Christians in Germany. He organized the First International Conference on Patristic Studies in 1951, the second in 1955 and served as editor of the first 11 volumes of Studia Patristica, the official publication of the conference.[3] Additionally, he also organized New Testament congresses. As well as their academic importance, the conferences were an early expression of ecumenism.

Cross was awarded an Oxford Doctor of Divinity degree in 1950; he received honorary degrees from the University of Aberdeen and the University of Bonn and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1967.


  1. ^ Cross, F. L.; Livingstone, E. A., eds. (1997). "Frank Leslie Cross". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. xxxiv–xxxvii. ISBN 978-0-19-211655-0. 
  2. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (First Edition, 1957)
  3. ^ Studia Patristica, vol. XIX: Historica, theologica, gnostica, biblica et apocrypha: Studia patristica. Peeters Publishers. 1989. pp. Preface. ISBN 978-90-6831-231-7. 

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