Associate Faculty for Orthodox Mission

Ralph Lee has a PhD in the Study of Religions from SOAS. He has worked in Ethiopia for a total of 16 years teaching both chemical engineering and theology in Ethiopia. Most recently he was teaching at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s Holy Trinity Theological College, from 2008-2014. Since returning to the UK he has taught and supervised research at a number of promiment research institutions including SOAS, Cambridge Theological Federation (Wesley House, Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies), as well as OCMS. Ralph has developed teaching on many aspects of contemporary Africa, with a focus on the interaction between Christian traditions, and those traditions with Islam.

Ralph specialises in Orthodox Christianity, and in particular Ethiopian Orthodoxy, his research focusses on the contemporary and historical literature, theology, traditions and religious practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church. He has a particular interest in the relationship between Ethiopian Christian thought and the broader Christian world, and also in indigenous Ethiopian thought as expressed in biblical commentary, hymns, and other works, and on reform movements within Eastern churches.

Research interests: Orthodox theology; non-Chalcedonian Orthodox theology; Oriental Orthodox biblical interpretation; the transmission and textual history of the Bible in Ethiopia; 1Enoch; Ethiopian and Syriac Christian thought; Second Temple Judaism; revival movements in Orthodox Churches; Evangelical-Orthodox relations; Orthodox-Islamic relations.

Other professional interests: Chair of Trustees of the Jubilee Centre, Cambridge (a charity aimed at developing biblical thinking for public life); member of the board of trustees of the Lausanne Orthodox Initiative; doctoral supervisor in the Cambridge Theological Federation (at the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, and Wesley House). Representative of the Navigators UK, focussing on disciple-making in Orthodox contexts, and on ministry to young academics.


  • PhD (SOAS University of London, 2011) Symbolic Interpretations in Ethiopic and Early Syriac Literature
  • MA (SOAS, 2007) African and Asian Christianity; PhD (1997, University of Strathclyde) Ethiopia: The Environmental Implications of Industrial Technology
  • MEng (Cantab, 1988) Chemical Engineering
  • MA (Cantab, 1987) Natural Sciences + Chemical Engineering
  • MBE (2014) for services to the British and Commonwealth community in Ethiopia