Daniel B. Hinshaw

Daniel B. Hinshaw
  • University of Michigan
  • Professor Emeritus of Surgery
  • Residential Fellow (2018-2019)
  • "Kenosis and the Mystery of Life"

Daniel B. Hinshaw is Professor Emeritus of Surgery at the University of Michigan and a Consultant in Palliative Medicine in the University of Michigan Geriatrics Center. His earlier interests have included the basic mechanisms of cell injury and death with a focus on the contribution of the cytoskeleton to this process. More recently, his clinical research interests have focused on care at the end of life, spiritual and moral distress in advanced illness, and complementary therapies in the relief of pain and suffering. He is currently exploring the relationship between a central Christian theological concept—the voluntary kenosis or self-emptying of God in the incarnation of Christ—and the involuntary "kenosis" experienced by each human person through the process of aging, functional decline, and death. He seeks to demonstrate that this concept is directly relevant to our culture on multiple levels, including public policy debates over limited health care resources, as well as bringing meaning, value, and quality to individual human lives in the context of chronic illness, suffering, and death.

Professor Hinshaw is the author of more than eighty papers published in scientific journals and edited volumes. He is also the author of two books: Suffering and the Nature of Healing (2013) and Touch and the Healing of the World (2017), both by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press. He has served as a member of the editorial boards of Free Radical Biology and Medicine and Progress in Palliative Care and is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the American College of Surgeons Committee on Surgical Palliative Care.

Professor Hinshaw’s research has been supported by grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. He has provided voluntary educational and clinical services in hospice programs in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Romania, where he is a visiting professor at Transylvania University in Brasov and teaches on suffering, culture, and spirituality at the end of life. He is a sessional professor of palliative care at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York and a visiting professor at the St. John of Damascus Theological Institute of the University of Balamand in Lebanon.


  • Thriving in the Face of Mortality: Kenosis and the Mystery of Life

    Cascade Books, 2023

    Daniel B. Hinshaw

    Hinshaw Kenosis Crop

    Kenosis, a Greek word meaning “depletion” or “emptying” and a concept borrowed from Christian theology, has deeply profound implications for understanding and ordering life in a world marked by suffering and death. Whereas the divine kenosis was voluntary, human beings experience an involuntary kenosis which is characterized by the inevitable losses experienced during the lives of mortal creatures. How one chooses voluntarily to respond to this involuntary kenosis, regardless of faith commitments, in effect defines us, both in our relationships with other suffering creatures and with the entire cosmos. This book offers a unique perspective on how the losses of involuntary kenosis choreograph the suffering which is such a defining aspect of the lives of persons, communities, and the environment in which they live, and how the kenotic process, rather than being a source of despair, can be a source of hope presenting opportunities for extraordinary personal growth.

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