Wikipedia has this brief explanation of the Gifford Lectures:
The Gifford Lectures were established by the will of Adam Lord Gifford (died 1887). They were established to “promote and diffuse the study of Natural Theology in the widest sense of the term — in other words, the knowledge of God.” The term natural theology as used by Gifford means theology supported by science and not dependent on the miraculous. The lectures are given at the Scottish universities: University of St Andrews, University of Glasgow, University of Aberdeen and University of Edinburgh.
A Gifford lectures appointment is one of the most prestigious honors in Scottish academia. They are normally presented as a series over an academic year and given with the intent that the edited content be published in book form. A number of these works have become classics in the fields of theology or philosophy and their relationship to science.
Much obliged to Nick Norelli for passing on this fine resource.
I just came across The Gifford Lectures online. I don’t know how it is that I’ve not come across this resource before but I’m glad to have discovered it now! Here’s a brief description from the website:
“The online Gifford Lectures database presents a comprehensive collection of books derived from the Gifford Lectures. In addition to the books, the Web site contains a biography of each lecturer and a summary of the lecture or book. The Web site also contains a biography of Adam Lord Gifford, a copy of his will bequeathing money to the four major Scottish universities to hold the lectures, a brief description of natural theology, an introduction to each of the four universities and news about forthcoming Gifford-related events.”
There’s over 100 years of material on this site and a quick browse through the books turned up plenty of notable works like:
- 1937: The Knowledge of God and the Service of God according to the Teaching of the Reformation — Karl Barth
- 1946: Christianity and Civilization [Vol. 1 | Vol. 2] — Emil Brunner
- 1954: History and Eschatology — Rudolf Bultmann
- 1990: Biblical Faith and Natural Theology — James Barr
Unfortunately not all of the lectures are currently available online (e.g., Henry Chadwick and Jarislov Pelikan’s) but there’s more than enough there to keep you reading for a good while.