Nicholas Lash

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Nicholas Langrishe Alleyne Lash

Death: July 11, 2020 (86)
Immediate Family:

Son of Brigadier Henry Alleyne Lash, OBE and Joan Mary Lash
Husband of Private and Private
Father of Private
Brother of Father Ephrem Lash and Jennifer Lash

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Immediate Family

About Nicholas Lash

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nicholas Langrishe Alleyne Lash (6 April 1934 – 11 July 2020) was an English Roman Catholic theologian. Having served in the British Army, he trained for Holy Orders at St Mary's College, Oscott and worked as a Catholic priest until 1975. He left the priesthood and turned to full-time academia, working as a lecturer and then Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity (1978–1999) at the University of Cambridge.


Military service

Lash served in the Royal Engineers from 1951 to 1957. He was commissioned in the British Army on 10 January 1953 as a second lieutenant, as part of his national service. On 1 October 1954, he was promoted to lieutenant and moved to a short service commission allowing him to continue his army career. He was moved to the Regular Army Reserve of Officers on 29 August 1957, thereby ending his military service.

Ministry and academia

He studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood at St Mary's College, Oscott between 1957 and 1963. After being ordained, he worked as an assistant priest in Slough. In 1969, he was elected a Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge, the only college of the University of Cambridge whose college chapel is Roman Catholic. From 1971 to 1975 he served as Dean of St Edmund's. In 1975 he left the priesthood and became a lecturer in the Faculty of Divinity of the University of Cambridge. From 1978 to 1999 he held the post of Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity in the University of Cambridge, succeeding Donald MacKinnon, and being succeeded by Denys Turner.


Nicholas Lash is the author of numerous theological books, and was a regular contributor to The Tablet. A Roman Catholic, and considered a liberal, Lash has voiced strong but measured criticism of practices among leading figures in his tradition, arguing for open debate on a variety of topics, including the ordination of women.

He is reportedly one of the few Roman Catholic theologians who have read, slowly, the whole of Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics and the whole of Karl Rahner's Theological Investigations. One of Lash's strongest intellectual influences seems to have been the recovery of Aquinas's theology, using forms of philosophical argument influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein, which became influential in the 1970s, associated with Cornelius Ernst and Fergus Kerr. Arguably his most significant piece of writing is also one of his shortest, his reflections on the Apostles' Creed, which includes discussion of the doctrine of the Trinity.


Lash was born to Joan Mary Moore, a Roman Catholic of Irish descent, and Brigadier Henry Alleyne Lash, an officer in the British Indian Army. He had an elder brother, Father Ephrem (born Christopher John Alleyne) Lash (3 December 1930-15 March 2016), who was an Eastern Orthodox archimandrite and prominent translator of patristic and liturgical texts, and two sisters: the writer Jini Fiennes - who had seven children, including actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes, filmmakers Sophie and Martha Fiennes, conservationist Jacob Fiennes, and musician Magnus Fiennes - and Susannah Lash, an artist and novelist.

Lash was educated at Worth Preparatory School (Jan 1945 - July 1947) and Downside School (Sep 1947- Dec 1950).

Nicholas Lash married Janet in 1976. Together they had a son, Dominic.


His books include

  • His presence in the world: a study in eucharistic worship and theology (1968)
  • Change in focus; a study of doctrinal change and continuity (1973)
  • Newman on development: the search for an explanation in history (1975)
  • Voices of authority (1976)
  • Theology on Dover beach (1979)
  • A Matter of hope: a theologian's reflections on the thought of Karl Marx (1981)
  • Theology on the Way to Emmaus (1986)
  • Easter in ordinary: reflections on human experience and the knowledge of God (1988)
  • Believing three ways in one God: a reading of the Apostles' Creed (1992)
  • The Beginning and the end of 'religion (1996)
  • Holiness, speech and silence: reflections on the question of God (2004)

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Nicholas Lash's Timeline

April 6, 1934
July 11, 2020
Age 86