- PhD in Orthodox Studies
- PhD Course Descriptions
YEAR ONE — DOCTORAL COURSES
PAT (THE & HIS) 892 (3 credits)
Mystical Theology I: The Biblical and Patristic Theology of the Orthodox Church, by Professor Christopher Veniamin
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. 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, and Augustine of Hippo. 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.
PAT (THE & HIS) 893 (3 Credits)
St . Maximos the Confessor, by The Very Rev. Professor Michel Najim
A study of Maximos’ theology, outlining the unity between Logos – logoi (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.
PTH 894 (3 Credits)
Philosophical and Patristic Theology, by The Most Rev. Professor Hierotheos Vlachos
The aim of this course is to examine the common and different elements in classical metaphysical philosophy and Patristic theology, especially in the 4th century. This is important, because in this century two major trends met each other, one related to Jewish thinking and the other to Greek philosophy. Comparison will be made between Greek classical philosophy, as articulated by Plato, Aristotle, and the Platonic philosophers, and the experience and thought of the Church Fathers, especially of the 4th century, but also extending to Fathers of subsequent centuries, including Dionysius the Areopagite, Augustine, John Damascene, Maximus the Confessor, Symeon the New Theologian, and Gregory Palamas. Students will make two presentations of an approved topic, and the course will conclude with a Research Paper on “Empirical Dogmatics according to the teaching of Fr. John Romanides”.
PAT (THE & HIS) 895 (3 Credits)
The Place of Psychology in Christian Ministry, by Professor Renos K. Papadopoulos
The aim of this course is to investigate (a) the role psychology (widely defined) plays in contemporary life, (b) the impact this role has on the way people conceptualise their very basic stance in relation to central issues in their lives, and (c) the implications of all these for Orthodox Christian Ministry. Central to this course is the discernment of the epistemological assumptions behind the explicit theories of the psychological approaches that will be examined. Consequently, emphasis is placed on the development of epistemological acumen, especially as it is applied to discerning wider societal discourses and “dominant narratives” that form the presuppositions of the theories that will be examined. Students will conclude with a Paper that will further analyze the implied anthropology of their chosen psychological theory or application or approach, and will demonstrate the implications of this anthropology for Christian ministry, specifically within the context of the Orthodox Biblical and Patristic tradition.
YEAR TWO — DOCTORAL COURSES
PAT (THE & HIS) 896 (3 credits)
Mystical Theology II: The Biblical and Patristic Theology of the Orthodox Church, Including the Christology of John Damascene and Gregory Palamas, by Professor Christopher Veniamin
This course will continue the investigation begun in Mystical Theology I, looking at such terms as “theology”, “theologian”, “salvation” and “deification”, and will include an examination of Cyril of Alexandria, Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor, Symeon the New Theologian, Gregory the Sinaïte, and Gregory Palamas. Special attention will be given to the central doctrine of Christianity: Jesus Christ, as true and perfect God and true and perfect man. This latter will be discussed in seminar format, and will consist principally of a close reading of St. John Damascene’s Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, and St. Gregory Palamas ’The Homilies’. Throughout the course, the Orthodox Patristic tradition will be compared and contrasted with the Western Christian traditions, and particular consideration will be given to the nature of revelation. Students will make a presentation of an approved topic, and the course will conclude with a Research Paper on “The Knowability of God in St. Gregory Palamas: Traditionalist or Innovator?”, which will serve as the Final Examination, read and discussed in tutorial-style format.
PAT (THE & HIS) 897 (3 Credits)
A Study of Theosis in the Greek and Syriac-speaking Fathers, by The Very Rev. Professor Michel Najim
By means of a close reading of texts, with discussion and student presentations, this course will consist of an in-depth study of both the Greek-speaking Fathers and the Syriac-speaking Fathers. Offered in seminar format, a wide range of themes will be covered, including, the spirituality of the heart in the Syriac tradition, the distinction between love and affection, Theosis in an unhellenized Syriac language, the created and the controversy around the uncreated energies in the Syriac tradition, that is, between those who believe in the possibility of “seeing God spiritually”, and those who deny the possibility of seeing God; the relation between the vision of God and worship in the holy of Holies, the heart as the link between the center of the body and the center of the spirit, the Spirit as our inner being, the power of surpassing and the movement in which we submit ourselves unto God, the austere spirit of Syrian Monasticism and its forms, and its missionary activities. Students are encouraged to participate in class by means of questions and comments. Coursework will consist of 1 Project, approved by the professor – 25%; and 1 Final Examination (2 hours, written or 1 hour, oral) – 65%. 10% of the overall grade will be based on effort, and will take into account the student’s overall disposition and attendance.
ETH (PAT) 898 (3 Credits)
Christian Ethics, by The Very Rev. Professor Michel Najim
This course seeks to explore the roots of Orthodox Spirituality and to study the contemporary moral issues from three perspectives: 1) Spirituality/morality in the Patristic tradition; 2) Practicing Patristic morality in modern society; and 3) Facing contemporary moral issues. This course consists, principally, of a close reading of ethical Patristic texts. Students will make two seminar presentations of approved topics, and the course will conclude with a research paper on moral issues, which will serve as the final examination, read and discussed in tutorial-style format.
PAT (THE & HIS) 899 (3 Credits)
The Ascetic Ethos of the Fathers: Seminars in Patristic Literature, by Professor Christopher Veniamin
The aim of this course is to investigate the ethos of Orthodox Patristic tradition. This course will consist of an in-depth study of The Ladder of Divine Ascent by St. John Climacus (representative of early Patristic literature), and of Saint Silouan the Athonite (representative of the Patristic literature of our own day). Offered in seminar format, a wide range of themes will be covered, including the Passions and Virtues, the nature of Orthodox Obedience, Repentance and Humility, Married Life and Monasticism, the Different Forms of Prayer, the Development of Intrusive Thoughts (logismoi), the Nature and Function of the Human nous, the Rôle of the Imagination in the Ascetic Struggle, the Spiritual Father and Child Relationship, Theosis or Glorification as the goal of the Christian life, Personal or Hypostatic and Liturgical Prayer for the World as the expression of the Life of the Church. Students are encouraged to participate in class by means of questions and comments. Coursework will consist of 1 Project, approved by the professor – 25%; and 1 Final Examination (2 hours, written or 1 hour, oral) – 65%. 10% of the overall grade will be based on effort, and will take into account the student’s overall disposition and attendance.
YEAR THREE — DOCTORAL RESEARCH
The third year of the AHOS PhD Program in Orthodox Studies consists exclusively of supervised research at the doctoral level. A proposed topic having been approved by the Faculty as worthy of original research, the PhD Candidate will spend the third year of the PhD Program solely on researching and writing, and as such requires frequent personal contact with one’s supervisor. The supervisor will ensure that the work undertaken is of the highest academic quality, based on a thorough investigation of sources in the relevant original ancient tongue(s), and in consultation with the most important secondary sources available in their respective languages. In order to qualify for the final examination (see PhD Examination below), the student must submit his or her completed doctoral dissertation in not more than seven academic years from the date of matriculation.
Review the PhD program Application Process