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Byzantine Online Course Descriptions

Byzantine Online Course Descriptions

Spring 2020 Credit Courses

DT 100:  Introduction to Dogmatics (Goff)

This introductory course will examine the foundations of Christian dogma. The course will explore divine revelation, the mystery of the Triune God, creation and anthropology, the person of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the nature and mission of the Church, the Church’s eschatological dimension, and the Church’s ethos as it encounters our civilization and relates its doctrinal
beliefs to the world.

Students will engage the following:

  • The basic themes of dogmatic theology from Trinity, creation, and the incarnation, to grace, sacraments, and the last things.
  • The ranking and interrelationship among the various magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church, as well as the levels of solemnity among the dogmas and the doctrines within Eastern Orthodoxy.
  • The nature of the papacy and its function within the Catholic communion and according to Eastern Orthodox theories.
  • Infallibility and inerrancy as applied to Scripture, Church, and Fathers.
  • The manner or methods available for solving theological puzzles.
  • The nature of loci theologici or authoritative texts and teachers in relation to human reason and secular sciences.

(3 hours; 1 semester)

DT 101:  Patristics 1 (Rose)

This course will concentrate on the texts and doctrines of the pre-Nicene Fathers, from the death of the apostles to Nicaea I and its aftermath. This course will provide an overview of both the theological thought of the Fathers of the Church (patristics in the strict sense) and their life and
writings (patrology). The rich ethnic and cultural diversity of early Christian thought will be highlighted through study of primary sources.

Students will learn the following:

  • Exegesis of primary texts from patristic authors representing a variety of themes, not to coincide with patristic readings in DT 100, 103, & 104.
  • Modes of interpreting patristic authors for contemporary purposes and within their own historical context.
  • A range of patristic concerns, from Biblical exegesis, hymnody, and liturgical compositions, to dogmatic and moral treatises.
  • Familiarity with representative Fathers of the Greek Church, or Latin authors who exercised an influence on the Eastern Church.

(2 hours; 1 semester)

DT 208: Theosis and Gregory Palamas (Minerd)

This course presents students with a study of the thought of Gregory Palamas concerning grace and theosis.  Topics covered will include: created vs. uncreated grace, the issue of God’s simplicity (in terms of Palamas’s distinction between God’s essence and energies), the role of philosophy in Byzantine theology, and contemporary comparisons of Palamism with Western thought.  Students will engage with primary source material from Palamas as well as texts drawn from various forms of “Palamism.”  While the course’s primary focus falls within dogmatic theology, it will consider these topics in connection with their importance in moral
and spiritual theology.

The following will covered in the course:

  • A systematic study of the theological topics involved in the issues of theosis and grace surrounding the debates arising between Gregory Palamas and his contemporary adversaries.
  • A direct study of relevant texts of Palamas on this topic
  • Historical receptions of Palamism and Neo-Palamism
  • A comparison of Palamas’s thought with Western articulations of these same theological topics

Prerequisite: DT 100 or permission of the Academic Dean

(3 hours; 1 semester)

LT 102: Sacramental Mysteries of Vocation and Penance (Petras)

This course investigates in comprehensive detail the historical origins, development, and theological significance for the Eastern Church of the Mysteries of Marriage, Holy Orders (including monastic tonsure), Holy Confession, and Holy Unction. A unique emphasis will also be laid on the mystery of death and resurrection as expressed and celebrated within the various funeral services of the Church. The class will focus on how and why these rites developed, the social and cultural forces that shaped them, and how these mysteries transform the person receiving them into a participant of the grace of the Holy Trinity. The expected outcomes for students are to:

  • Acquire a thorough historical and theological understanding of each of the Vocational and Penitential Mysteries, thus assisting them in engaging in critical thinking about the sacraments and conversing intelligibly about them in both an academic and parochial setting.
  • Relate the sacramental mysteries to life and, specifically, to historical, anthropological, sociological, and spiritual realities lived by Christians.
  • Attain a level of proficiency with regard to sacramental language and concepts, needed in order to pursue research and further liturgical studies.
  • Understand the Vocational and Penitential Mysteries as not only social rites of passage but as aids in one’s personal and communal religious life, revealing the divine will and purpose for all men and women in their spiritual journeys to the Kingdom.

Prerequisite: LT 100 or permission of the Academic Dean

(3 hours; 1 semester)

SP 101:  Foundations of Spirituality 1 (Barstad)

This two-semester introductory course surveys the foundational themes of the spiritual life in the Byzantine Tradition. Through readings, lectures, and class discussions, the themes of creation in the divine image and likeness, life in the Trinity, the nature of the human person, deification, asceticism, and growth in the spiritual life will be explored. The student will be introduced to the standard sources through reading selections from the writings of the Desert Fathers, the ascetical writers, the Philokalia, as well as excerpts from the Fathers of the classical tradition. Other readings will enable students to develop the ability to explain the concepts and terminology of the tradition using the categories of contemporary culture. By the end of the course, students should be able:

  • To articulate the major themes of Byzantine spiritual tradition. • To explain patristic ascetical psychological terms like “passions,” “apatheia,” “watchfulness,” and “thoughts” to a contemporary audience.
  • To explain the created, fallen, and redeemed states of human nature using such categories as “the image and likeness of God,” “sin,” “repentance,” “regeneration,” and “deification.”
  • To explain the sacramental mysteries of the Church (Baptism, Chrismation, Eucharist, etc.) in relation to such dimensions of the spiritual life as purification, illumination, and union.
  • To draw upon liturgical texts as sources for teaching the spiritual and ascetical elements of the Byzantine tradition.
  • To outline the history and distinctive practices of Hesychasm and the Prayer of the Heart.
  • To show the dependence of Byzantine teachings and practices regarding the spiritual life on the Christological and Trinitarian dogmas of the Church.

(2 hours; 1 semester)

Spring 2020 Certificate Class

Introduction to Sacred Scripture (January 27-March 20, 2020)

This course provides a theological overview to the Bible in a manner appropriate to thoughtful people of faith.  We will think first about the historical background to the Bible:  what the Bible is, why it is the way it is and how it came to be.  As we look at the books of the Old Testament as well as the New, we will seek to develop a deeper appreciation for the depth, richness and integrity found in God’s word.  We will also address the role of Sacred Scripture in the life of the Church as we grapple with an authentically Eastern Catholic approach to the Bible.

Instructor:  TBA

Summer 2020 Courses

WR 101: RESEARCH METHODS (Mark Collins, M.F.A.) (Summer 1, begins June 1st)

This research class provides the basics for successfully performing graduate-level research as well as developing skills for critical reading and writing. This includes analysis and evaluation of print primary as well as secondary resources, online databases, Internet sources and proper research sources and authorities. In addition, students will learn the basics of formatting a document in Microsoft Word including pagination, table of contents, use of linked headings, footnotes and endnotes, inserting images, and captioning. Short lessons on PowerPoint and Excel as research aids are also included. By the end of this course, the learners should be able to:

  • Summarise, paraphrase and quote useful data from a variety of sources.
  • Critically evaluate data/information.
  • Format complex Word documents.
  • Successfully utilize PowerPoint and Excel in support of research.
  • Analyse, comment on and critique scholarly theological literature.

(2 hours; 1 semester)

LT 304: The Problem of Evil and Demonology: Eastern Christian Perspectives and Answers (Fr. Stelyios Muksuris) (Summer 1, begins June 1st)

Decades ago, editorial writer Meg Greenfield, in addressing the tragedy of the Jim Jones cult in Ghana (Newsweek, Dec. 4, 1978, p. 131), warned against the dangers of simplifying the problem of evil, characterizing it as “the dark impulses that lurk in every private psyche”, a “jungle (that) is only a few yards away” from each of us.

The acknowledgment of evil as an undesirable and abominable force, capable of affecting individual or collective harm, is known in virtually every culture of the world. From antiquity, man sought answers to cosmological and existential questions, ranging from how the universe came to be to why man’s life must ultimately come to an end. He was inevitably confronted with suffering, pain, natural disasters, and death of all sorts, not to mention sinister individuals adept at accomplishing massive and irreversible destruction. Such frightful experiences were clearly
outside of his limited understanding and control. Man deduced that such answers were hidden well beyond the natural world, in unseen forces that at times seemed to favor humanity and at other times seemed to victimize it.

In the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the one true revealed God is accepted as Creator – entirely omnipotent, entirely omniscient, and entirely good toward mankind and the created order. A covenantal relationship was established between God and man, which each religion understands and implements differently. Nevertheless, in spite of the divine presence in human life, evil continues to exist and wreaks havoc of all sorts, thus challenging people of faith to take a closer, more insightful look at the nature and intricacies of evil and how it can be reconciled to the already well-established premise of an all-loving and all-powerful God (known as theodicy). In light of evil’s age-old history since the beginning of time, this in itself is arguably the most difficult question man has ever had to answer, and perhaps the one quandary with as much power to keep one up at night as the unnerving trepidation that demonic evil naturally (or unnaturally) inspires.

This popular elective will study the concept of evil from the perspective of both an ontological force (demonology) and the voluntary rejection and absence of good. The understanding of evil from various ideologies and religions will then be explored, followed by a particular emphasis on the Judeo-Christian scriptural tradition and its extensive treatment by patristic writers throughout history. At the forefront of this detailed textual survey will be the inescapable issue of theodicy and all the arguments associated with it.

Following a historical study of how ancient indigenous cultures throughout the world dealt with the problem of evil and demonic spirits ritually, attention will be given to the Eastern Church’s practice of baptismal exorcisms and their accompanying prayers within the manuscript tradition.
In addition, isolated prayers of exorcism performed in individual cases of adults, together with their theology, will be examined. Finally, the course will briefly look at the Roman Catholic order of exorcists and unique cases of actual exorcisms performed in both the East and West, highlighting the meaning and ramifications of such an activity within the Christian life.

(3 hours; 1 semester)

DT 105: ECUMENISM – Orientale Lumen (Summer 2, begins July 6th)

This online course offers perspectives on Catholic-Orthodox/East-West relations in hopes, “that they all may be one” (John 17:21). Students enrolled in this class for credit will virtually prepare a paper in conjunction with faculty-led readings, including primary ecumenical statements as well as current publications highlighted in the lectures and discussions which focus on ecumenism. Students will learn the following:

  • Engagement with current state of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue.
  • Familiarity with primary ecumenical readings.
  • Critical thinking concerning modern ecumenical topics.
  • Modes of dialogue with significant theological issues from Catholic and Orthodox perspectives.

(1 hour; 1 semester)