Initially, the TAOI Ph.D. in Orthodox Studies will be focused on the field of Patristic Theology, as evidenced by the credentials and experience of our faculty, led by four full professors (see Faculty Academic Profiles below). In time, however, the scope of the program will be developed in such a way so as to include other equally important areas of specialization as well. The first two years of the Ph.D. Program are comprised of six Doctoral Courses and two Doctoral Seminars/Tutorials, while the third year onwards will consist uniquely of Doctoral Research. An outline of the structure of the first three years of the TAOI Ph.D. Program is given below.
YEAR ONE — DOCTORAL COURSES
PAT (THE & HIS) 892
St. Maximos the Confessor
Very Rev. Professor Michel Najim
(August/September, 3 Credits).
A study of Maximos’ theology, outlining the unity between Logos – λόγοι (reasons) and cosmos; the interconnectedness between creation and anthropology as a “portion” of God, and the movement according to his “logos” (reason). In defending the two wills in Christ, Maximos emphasized that nature cannot exist or be recognized apart from its essential activity. Special emphasis will be placed on the fall, the passions and death, and its interrelationship with man’s separation from God. Our salvific relationship with God is founded on the acceptance of God’s providence, and on cooperating (synergy) with God’s plan (oikonomia), and the liberation from our passions and unnatural egoism. The Holy Church in the process of theosis strives to assimilate the faithful to God, and to be contained within the Creator through the purification of the heart, illumination of the nous, and the vision of God (praxis and theoria). Students will make two seminar presentations of two approved topics, and the course will conclude with a research paper on Theosis in Maximos the Confessor, which will serve as the final examination, read and discussed in tutorial-style format.
PAT (THE & HIS) 893.
Mystical Theology: The Biblical and Patristic Theology of the Orthodox Church
Professor Christopher Veniamin
(August/September, 3 Credits).
A study chiefly of Greek Mystical Theology in dialogue with the contemporary problematic, with special emphasis on the doctrines of Christology and the Holy Trinity (3 credits). This overview will move diachronically through the Language of the Old and New Testaments, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Arius, Athanasius the Great, Eunomius, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom, Augustine of Hippo, Theodore of Mopsouestia, Nestorius, Cyril of Alexandria, Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor, John Damascene, Symeon the New Theologian, Gregory the Sinaïte, and Gregory Palamas. Students will make a seminar presentation of an approved topic, and the course will conclude with a research paper on The Knowability of God in Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, and John Chrysostom, which will serve as the final examination, read and discussed in tutorial-style format.
Thanatology: The Ministry to the Dying and Grieving,
Very Rev. Professor Joseph Allen
(May, 3 Credits).
This course will focus on death (thanatos), dying and grief. Although its aim will be theological and ministerial, and therefore relevant to any person who seeks to serve in the name of Christ Jesus, the material will be rooted in the Eastern Christian Tradition. In order to minister to those who are dying and those who are grieving, one must first understand the foundations of a distinctive Christian approach. Thus, it is necessary to explore those foundations: the Scriptural and Patristic; the Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Semitic; and the Greek and Latin Roots. From there one can grasp a clearer understanding, for example, of Jesus’ argument with the Sadducees and Paul’s critical points in the Epistles to the Romans and the Corinthians. Also considered in the course is such relevant literature as the Russian novel, The Death of Ivan Ilich by Leo Tolstoy. From such roots, then, the course will turn to the implications for ministry: coping mechanisms; emotional and spiritual characteristics; pastoral responses to anger, guilt and despair; and the distinct Eastern Christian view of suffering. The course, therefore, will be a synthesis of the contemporary understandings and Eastern Christian Tradition as they relate to ministering to those who are dying and those who are grieving. Students will make two seminar presentations of two approved topics, and the course will conclude with an approved research paper, which will serve as the final examination, read and discussed in tutorial-style format.
PAT (THE & HIS) 895.
The Mind of the Fathers: Selected Texts from the First to the Fifteenth Centuries,
(May, 3 Credits).
This course is designed to enable the student to acquire a deeper knowledge of the contributions of the Fathers from the First to the Fifteen century, and to gain an insight into the distinctive phronema of the Church Fathers. Placed within their respective historical contexts, these select Patristic texts will shed light on the important theological contribution of each ecclesiastical writer, and familiarize the student with their methodology. As its overall objective, this course seeks to demonstrate that Orthodox Patristic theology is based, not on philosophical speculation, but on the spiritual experience of the writer in question within the context of Holy Tradition. It is hoped, therefore, that this course will encourage the student to recognize the practical and pastoral character of Patristic theology as it relates especially to the challenges of our present times. Students will conclude with a research paper on one of the Fathers, which will serve as the final examination, read and discussed in tutorial-style format.