Moscow, June 2, 2017
The Antiochian House of Studies PhD program recently held its first residency at the Antiochian Village in Bolivar, PA, which proved to be a great success, reports Dr. Christopher Veniamin, Professor of Patristic Theology and Dogmatics in the PhD program, and Assistant Director of the Antiochian Orthodox Institute, on the site of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America.
The ten-day session was especially notable for the presence of Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos), the bishop of the Orthodox Church of Greece and one of the most respected Orthodox theologians alive today. His Eminence is a faculty member of the Antiochian Orthodox Institute, a department of the Antiochian House of Studies founded in 2015.
The Ph.D. program is intended to train specialists in Biblical and Patristic Theology, with the specific aim of transmitting the wisdom and ethos of the Orthodox tradition to our theologians, educators and pastors. In its mission to fulfill the ancient apostolic calling to build up Christian theological education, the Antiochian House of Studies is led by a team of renowned scholars who offer students of all backgrounds the opportunity to engage in scholarship at the highest level.
Met. Hierotheos, who was also the featured speaker at the Archdiocese’s 2016 clergy symposium, offered a course entitled “Philosophy and Patristic Theology,” which demonstrated the experiential basis of Orthodox theology, as opposed to a philosophical basis. His Eminence offered daily three-and-a-half hour blocks of presentations, with student presentations and tutorials following in the afternoon. The tone for each day was set with the celebration of Matins in the morning and Vespers in the evening.
As Dr. Veniamin writes,
By means of an analytical presentation of Plato, Aristotle and the Neoplatonists, and a demonstration of their influence on the chief heresiarchs of the first four centuries—including Paul of Samosata, Arius, and Eunomius—Metropolitan Hierotheos skillfully revealed the therapeutic method" and hesychast tradition of the Patriarchs and Prophets, St. Paul, John the Divine, St. Ignatius of Antioch, the Cappadocian Fathers (Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and Gregory of Nyssa), St. Maximos the Confessor, St. John Damascene, St. Symeon the New Theologian and St. Gregory Palamas; and with specific reference to such great theologians of our day as Elder Sophrony of Essex and Fr. John Romanides.
The residency also included instruction from Professor Renos Papadopoulos, who offered the course “The Place of Psychology in Christian Ministry,” which “proved to be a masterful analysis and comparison of the respective roles of psychology and the therapeutic character of Orthodox Patristic theology.”
“Nowhere else in the world is a course of this kind offered,” Dr. Veniamin writes, highlighting the uniqueness of the Antiochian program.