• Boerger, Jonathan D. - The Cross of Christ and the Recapitulation of Trauma: A Trauma-Informed Consideration of Irenaeus on Humanity, Sin, and Salvation

    While various conceptions of “original sin” have dominated Western hamartiologies and soteriologies since Augustine coined the term, this paper considers what was previously said by Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. 130–202) regarding sin and salvation. While humans are made in God’s image and intended to grow into his likeness, sin imposes destructive conditions upon humanity. Described by Irenaeus as slavery, sickness, and wounds, the conditions and consequences of sin may be correlated with the insights of psychological traumatology, which help describe the disintegrating effects of sin while identifying the human need for Christ. Therefore, from a trauma-informed engagement with Irenaeus’ recapitulatory theology of sin and salvation, this paper argues that the cross of Christ is a crucial site of the recapitulation and integrative processing of trauma that leads to salvation: the reintegration of the whole human being (body, soul, and spirit) in Christ by the Spirit according to the will of the Father.

  • Cao, Michelle Ying - The Saving Wound’: The Concept of Eros in Origen’s Commentary of The Song of Songs

    Origen, frequently accused of blending Christianity with the Platonic tradition and scrutinized for equating eros with agape in his Commentary on the Song of Songs, undergoes a re-evaluation by recent scholars. They argue that Origen’s portrayal of love is distinctly Christian. This paper aligns with this reinterpretation from a less explored perspective, asserting that Origen’s understanding of eros is firmly anchored in the Trinity of love. Through a close reading of the Commentary, this paper dissects the concept of eros into three sections. The initial section outlines the trinitarian essence inherent in human eros, emphasizing the incarnation of the Son as pivotal. Here, Jesus Christ embodies both agape from God and perfect eros directed towards God. The second section investigates the distinctions between the inner and outer man, revealing how Origen adeptly employs the tangible experience of earthly eros to elucidate the nature of spiritual eros. This part underscores the relationship between the ethical potency of spiritual eros and the incarnated and crucified Son. The third section delves into the evolving journey of faith, delineating its dual nature as both active and passive. It emphasizes the hierarchy of love and the profound experience of eros in the Holy Spirit.

  • DePhillippeaux, Brendan - Economy and Creation: The Role of Theological Hermeneutics in Irenaeus’ Creation Theology of ‘Growth'

    One of the more controversial areas of Irenaeus’ theology is his understanding that the first human couple—and with them the whole of creation—was necessarily imperfect in their original created state and destined for growth into their full humanity. This essay focuses on the trend in modern scholarship of using this doctrine to support various forms of historicist soteriology. I argue that these approaches overlook the role of Irenaeus’ theological hermeneutics in developing his creation theology of “growth,” which anchors this doctrine in trinitarian metaphysics that are at odds with historicism. I develop this argument in three steps. Firstly, I observe how many theologians read Irenaeus’s creation theology of “growth” through the lens of modern methods of abstract systematic theology. Second, I suggest that attempted defenses of the internal consistency of Irenaeus’ creation theology, while helpful, ultimately fail to address such hermeneutical assumptions. Third and finally, I use current scholarship on Irenaeus’ theological method to suggest that his creation theology of “growth” is constrained by the economic trinitarian worldview of the regula fidei which prevents it from supporting any notion of autonomous nature or history.

  • Germain, Jonathan - To Know All Things: Tertullian’s Treatment of the Regula Fidei in Prescription Against Heretics

    What is meant by Christian faith? The churches of the second century asked this question, and in doing so turned to the tradition of the apostle’s teaching for clarity. This tradition was summarized in what became known as the “rule of the faith,” a pattern of teaching inherited from the apostles. Tertullian, an early Christian writer from Carthage in the second century, writes about this rule in his Prescription Against Heretics. First, we will look at Tertullian’s presentation of the rule in Prescription. Second, we will look at the rule’s role in matters of inquiry. Third, we will examine the rule’s relation to scripture and the church. Finally, we will determine the rule’s relationship to the notion of the apostolic tradition. We will ultimately show that Tertullian employs the rule of the rule in Prescription as the principle of apostolic teaching to be used against the heresies of the time.

  • Guirguis, Karim - Liturgy as Eros: Extending Origen into Liturgy

    Oftentimes theology is artificially divided into categories. Fields of “Liturgical Theology,” “Patristics,” and “Scriptural Studies,” among other categories, are not foreign to the ears of academia. These synthetic borders that separate these categories limit our perspective of theology, as a whole, to how these different “fields” ought to function as shadows of primary theology, that is lived out—one that is defined by prayerful experience. Attempting to bridge such a chasm, this paper aims to understand the consequences of Origen’s conception of the erotic relationship between God and man, as expressed primarily in his commentary on the Song of Songs, on the perception of liturgy. Understanding how Origen perceives, both, the soul and creation as shadows of the Church, and his vision of the relationship between Christ and the Church through his interpretation of the Bride and Groom in the Song of Songs, in many ways, overlaps with, and enriches the Christian liturgical lens. Origen’s interpretation of the relationship between the Bride and Bridegroom as eros, and his placement of Bride to be a type of the Church, locates itself parallel to the early Church’s identification of her own liturgical life.

  • Holsteen, Tom - Narrative Rule of Faith in Augustine’s De Vera Religione

    Scholarship on Augustine’s early work De Vera Religione has tended to focus on either the Plotinian, ascensional features of his argument (van Fleteren), or more recently upon linguistic shifts that reshape Augustine’s appropriation of Neoplatonic terminology into a catholic Christian register (Clemmons). Harrison (2006) suggested that the work represents a more complex engagement with Christian theology than had previously been granted. This paper builds on that observation by devoting attention to Augustine’s presentation of the salvation-historical events narrated in the teaching and sacramental discipline of the catholic church. In several key pericopes identified by van Fleteren as containing the ascent motif, Augustine definitively subordinates the Neoplatonic notion of ascent to a belief and way of life rooted in this distinctively Christian narrative (11.21–12.25, 13.26–17.34, 29.52–31.58). Therefore in this paper I argue that Augustine’s narrative presentation of the catholic rule of faith and life is essential to his apologetic objective in De Vera Religione. It grounds his defense of the catholic faith against the Manichaean belief of his friend and patron Romanianus and provides the critical filter by which he strictly delimits his appropriation of Neoplatonic ideas.

  • Lane, Marcus - Union and Transformation: The Dual Meaning of Theosis in Gregory of Nazianzus

    In Or. 29 of his Theological Orations, Gregory of Nazianzus writes of the divine and human natures of Jesus Christ, “They became a single whole, the stronger side predominating, in order that I might be made God to the extent that he was made man.” Throughout his writings, Gregory treats this notion of theosis as the fundamental purpose of the incarnation. Though present in many of the Christological writings that have shaped the Church, theosis is often difficult to reconcile with central doctrines like justification by faith. However, further examination of Gregory Nazianzen’s treatment of theosis provides ground for a greater level of clarity regarding the relationship between theosis and justification. Through engagement with Gregory’s orations and letters along with the work of Christopher Beeley and Gabrielle Thomas, this research aims to show that Gregory’s understanding of theosis encapsulates both the present reality of the believer’s union with Christ through faith and the ongoing process of purification that will culminate in the age to come. This now and not yet dimension of Gregory’s doctrine of theosis invites readers to see theosis as both the divine grace by which believers are made righteous and also the goal toward which they strive as they are transformed by the sanctifying work of the Spirit.

  • Mason, Scott - Paul the Mystical Theologian: Symeon the New Theologian’s Interpretation of Paul

    My paper will be an exploration into how Paul the Apostle is interpreted according to the theological and spiritual assumptions of a given time in general, as well as a demonstration of how Symeon the New Theologian interprets and emphasizes certain aspects of Paul’s corpus in support of his theological project in particular. For Symeon, a theologian is someone who experiences and contemplates the divine light in revelatory visions and is therefore brought into relationship with the Holy Trinity, as through the Spirit, one gazes upon the Son and beholds the Father. Through this experience one is directly taught by the Holy Spirit and acquires authority to teach on spiritual matters. Symeon finds a model for this in the person of Paul. According to Symeon, Paul receives secret and hidden wisdom from God [1 Cor 2:7] in ecstatic visions of the divine light, in which he sees ineffable things in the third heaven [2 Cor 12:2-4]. In the contemplation of this light, he experiences union with God, and, from this, he teaches about the mystical nuptial union of all things in the body of Christ by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.


  • McNamee, Charlotte - Allegorical Interpretive Methods of Origen and Philo and Their Impact on Christianity's Identity in Relation to Judaism

    Origen’s work of biblical interpretation has fundamentally shaped theological thought in both Western and Eastern Christian tradition. An analysis of selections from Origen’s writings, specifically Song of Songs, Romans, and On First Principles, will demonstrate skills to inform Jewish and Christian dialogue today. Analyzing the similarities of Origen’s scriptural analysis with Philo’s approach to scriptural interpretation will prove common ground between Christian and Jewish approaches. Utilizing historical theology as a methodological approach, this analysis will demonstrate the unique analysis that historical theology offers when engaging with authors and reception history to realize the continuity of Christian tradition and practice. This method will also reveal the continued influence of early biblical interpretation on Christian theology toward Judaism as it has progressed in modern history. This application of historical theology will aid in the construction of a working theology toward fruitful dialogue between Jews and Christians. Engaging with Jewish in their own context will also aid in better understanding overlap and difference with interpretation by Christian authors. An additional examination of modern rabbinic thought on Christian interpretation of the Hebrew Bible will demonstrate the importance of utilizing historical theology to aid in examining the broad influence of Christian thought and how that impacts sub-sequent practice in the continuity of Christian tradition and its relationship with Abrahamic religions.

  • Opperwall, Daniel - A Troubled Church Seeks Knowledge: Mount Sinai in the Oration of Gregory of Nazianzus
    This paper explores Gregory of Nazianzus’ understanding of the imagery of Mount Sinai (from the book of Exodus) with an eye towards its significance for the modern Church. For Gregory, Mount Sinai serves as a key image of the Church especially in its capacity as a knowledge-seeking body. Gregory frames the Church’s quest for knowledge in explicitly hierarchical (though not necessarily clerical) terms, emphasizing the role and responsibility of those who would ascend the mountain of knowledge to gain theological insight. For Gregory, the Church’s leaders, whether clergy or not, must be appropriately cautious (even fearful) about their epistemological ascent while nonetheless carrying out their essential duty to guide and teach the Church. Above all, such leaders must seek deep spiritual purity lest their quest for knowledge result in disaster. Remarkably, Gregory frames Christian conflict, both political and theological, as frequently arising from a failure to approach theological knowledge correctly in accordance with the image of Sinai as he understands it. When considered within the context of the Church’s modern struggles, Gregory’s message reads as a reminder to return to the work of knowledge-seeking with both diligence and deep caution as a way forward.
  • Scott, Nathan - The Angelic Language of Heaven’s Book: Origen’s Homilia in Genesisim 1 as an Astrological Allegory.

    Despite Origen’s complex reception history, he remains a fascinating figure, not least owing to his eclectic use of philosophical sources. This eclectic complexity is evident in his interpretation of Genesis 1:14, particularly with his acceptance of astrology which is clear in the passage from his Commentarius in Genesim preserved in the Philokalia 23.1-11, 14-23. Alan Scott (1991) and Adam Rasmussen (2019) have both given excellent overviews of Origen’s attitude toward astrology, but their focus was limited to the passage from Origen’s commentary. Origen’s Homilia in Genesim 1 has been read as separate from his commentary due to its allegorical nature (cf. Boles, 2016; Habermehl, 2011). This paper will argue that there is a complimentary coherence between Origen’s commentary and his homily with regard to his astrological ideas and that they should be read together. Through reading Origen’s homily in context with his commentary, this paper will argue that Origen’s criteria for astrology from his commentary is evident in how he discussed Genesis 1:14-19 in his homily.

  • Sheen, Seung Heon - St. Augustine’s ‘Number Pneumatology

    In this essay, I explore St. Augustine’s reception of Neopythagoreanism and the development in his early pneumatology through a reading of De libero arbitrio (391-95). Here, Augustine attempts to demonstrate the eternal and immutable nature of God and the goodness of Creation by demonstrating the unchangeable and universal nature of number (numerus). This not only involves a standard Pythagorean line of argument regarding the universal intelligibility of numbers but also scriptural exegesis, in particular of Eccl 7:25, Wis 8:1, and Wis 6:16, as well as a pro-Nicene logic of consubstantiality and inseparable operations. Through these, Augustine identifies numerus as consubstantial with the divine Sapientia—as heat and brightness are consubstantial in a fire—guiding souls toward the contemplation of numerus sempiternus and to providentially order Creation—in cooperation with the Son—by preserving and animating the forms of creatures. All these discussions of numerus are consistent with Augustine’s early ‘order pneumatology’ that Lewis Ayres and Chad Gerber have identified, hence one could perhaps also speak of a ‘number pneumatology.’ And from this, we can glean some insights into the question of continuity between the ‘early’ and ‘late’ Augustine and discern a certain Christian Pythagoreanism in his thought.

  • St. Marie, Michael - Basil of Caesarea on the Image and Likeness of God

    In On the Human Condition St. Basil argues that there is a distinction between humans being made in the “image” and in the “likeness” of God. The image is our capacity for reason and our ability to rule over other creatures. The likeness is our ability to become more like God; however, he does not explicitly describe what it is to become more like God, except to say that it comes about through Christianity. Through his homilies on creation in the Hexameron he argues for the work of the Holy Spirit in the act of creation. And again in On the Holy Spirit he defends the Holy Spirit as an agent of creation, and further as an agent of our salvation, through our baptism. In this paper I will argue that while St. Basil does not clearly define what it means to be like God in On the Human Condition, his writing in the Hexameron and On the Holy Spirit do work to further define what it means to be like God. The act of creation is shown to be an essential aspect of God, as such to become like God is to be a creature that creates.

  • Youssef, Andrew - Toward an Oriental Orthodox Understanding of the (Un)createdness of Grace: A Patristic Approach informed by Biblical Exegesis and Liturgical Theology

    “Grace” was often associated with the activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church. The west experienced the Pelagian controversy giving rise to an Augustinian doctrine of grace that was later further developed by Thomas Aquinas. In the east, the Eastern Orthodox’s conception of grace was shaped by Gregory Palamas’ writings against Barlaam. Grace was not the subject of such debate in Oriental Orthodoxy. Nevertheless, two curious references to the (un)created grace occur in the liturgical tradition of the Coptic Orthodox Church: (a) the reference to God as the Creator of grace in the fraction rite and (b) the reference to the uncreated grace coming upon the presbyter to be ordained. In this paper, I engage the potential ways the (un)createdness of grace can be understood by: (1) examining the differing interpretations of righteousness (as a concept directly related to grace) in the Scriptures through Genesis, Ezekiel, and Paul’s letters, (2) surveying modern Oriental Orthodox authors such as Paulos Gregorios, Matthew the Poor, and Bishoy of Damietta, and (3) engaging the findings from the Scripture and Oriental Orthodox authors with non-Oriental Orthodox thinkers such as Maximus the Confessor, Thomas Aquinas, John of the Cross, and Gregory Palamas.