The Aim of the Curriculum
This curriculum’s goal is to set up basic academic knowledge, which contributes to the fulfillment of Church requirements, in terms of:
- Providing Orthodox pastors who are capable of caring for their parishioners with knowledge and piety.
- Providing effective tools for priests and catechists to meet the cultural challenges of the contemporary world.
- Providing opportunities to experience pastoral life and launch new pastoral training programs, which will benefit the Antiochian Orthodox Church as a whole.
- Creating the appropriate atmosphere for intellectual, theological debates, which are directly related to the life of the Church.
The Curriculum’s Foundations
The curriculum is based on the following foundations:
- The Institute’s curriculum is academic, and emphasizes the importance of intellectual training in an atmosphere of responsible freedom.
- The Institute enjoys a unique academic status, as learning is closely related to life experience, deeply rooted in the Christian legacy, which does not separate life from scientific and intellectual achievements.
- The Institute has a specific Antiochian identity within the framework of the Orthodox Church. This identity connects the Institute to the land where the Church seeks testimony, whether in its immediate Arab environment, or abroad.
Content of the Curriculum
The curriculum is spread over different fields of knowledge, however, each discipline has its own scientific and educational specificity, which relates it to the program’s goal, and determines its learning outcomes. These disciplines are the following:
The Holy Bible is an essential component in Church life, whether at the communal or at the individual level. Identifying the Bible, becoming acquainted with it, and understanding it correctly, are the intellectual basis of biblical theology courses.
The Institute’s students are expected to:
a. Acquire a basic knowledge of the Holy Bible in order to understand the relation between the Holy Scriptures and various other aspects of the Church’s life.
b. Understand the main concepts of the contents of Scriptures in order to be able to use them correctly in preaching, as well as to relate them to the Church doctrine.
c. Become well-versed in the accurate interpretation of the Holy Bible for pastoral and preaching purposes.
2. Christian Doctrine
The Christian Doctrine is the totality of the expressions which formulate the Church’s faith in God. It relates this faith to the life of the Church as a community, struggling to live according to God’s heart, and to the growth of man in Christ.
Therefore, theology students are expected to:
- Have a comprehensive knowledge of the Christian faith according to the Niceo-Constantinopolitan Creed.
- Understand the historical framework which has accompanied the drafting and interpretation of the definitions of faith in the light of divine inspiration throughout the ages, and until our own time.
- Be able to distinguish between the content of the dogmas and their expression in a way that is most appropriate to the requirements of communication and witness in today’s world.
- Be able to translate the requirements of faith to the life of the Church and the believers, away from any kind of conservativisim, projections, or prejudices.
3. Church History
Church History is the summary of the life of the Church in its struggle on earth. Throughout the Church’s history, we observe the Church’s loyalty to Her Lord on all levels. Therefore, Theology students are expected to:
a. Establish a critical knowledge of Church life, especially the life of the Antiochian Church, in order to read the Church’s history in a non-bias manner.
b. Benefit from experience accumulated in history, in order to know how to deal with the present, and work towards the future, in a way that best serves the witness to Christ.
c. Identify with the dynamics of the thought of the Church Fathers, in order to transmit the faith, and live with Christ in today’s world.
4. Sacramental Life and Ritual Performance
The Sacramental Life of the Church is cast into various liturgical dimensions: fasting, praying, and Sacred Art. While emphasizing the importance of form to convey content, the main focus is on the relation between the content of sacramental life and faith in the One Holy Apostolic Church.
Therefore, the Theology student is expected to:
a. Acquire a clear knowledge of sacramental life, which goes beyond outward appearances, in a creative way, in order to achieve the purpose of sanctification.
b. Be able to transmit this sacramental concern in ministry and clearly relate it to the Holy Tradition.
c. Be able to formulate new forms of expression, which would be used for the service of the people of God, on the basis of the gifts, generously distributed to each and every member of the Church.
5. Patristic Theology
Church Fathers are the authoritative authors and teachers who experienced the Truth of the Church, and became witnesses to it. They are regarded as the bearers of the authentic lived tradition, which gathers faith and knowledge, vision and work. Thus the courses of Patristics aim at:
a. Understanding the authoritative place of the Church Fathers as a crucial component of the living Tradition, and their vital role in the life and teachings of the Church.
b. Knowing the lives and the theological contribution of the Church Fathers, and their influence on the life of the Church throughout its history.
c. The significance of the experience and teachings of the Fathers for the Church today.
6. Pastoral Care
Since the Bachelor program has an incarnational dimension, pastoral care will have a crucial role to play in the student’s formation. Thus, the student is expected to:
a. Be well acquainted with the social changes in today’s world, and use this information for planning for his pastoral work and activities.
b. Be able to come up with pastoral models that would fit within the requirements of interaction with all the members of the parish, as well as with its social classes, and special cases present in it. c. Be able to make appropriate use of the gifts of the parishioners in order to support the pastoral responsibility assigned to him.
7. General Culture and Information Technology
Witness for Christ, as well as the life in Him and with Him, is reflected in daily life. This reality has intellectual and cultural dimensions which are expressed day after day in rapidly-occurring situations.
Since incarnation is one of the major foundations of faith, a theology student must:
a. Be updated with cultural changes taking place around him, and deal with them in a positive and open-minded way, without compromising the Church’s teachings.
b. Define his witness in the situations that God, in His wisdom puts him in.
c. Translate his faith creatively in all the circumstances that emerge around him.
8. Language Requirements
Language is the best tool for communication, even if it uses modern channels amidst current technological changes. Therefore, an Antiochian theology student is expected to have:
a. A perfect knowledge of Arabic, because it is his language of perception, preaching, and daily communication in his future activities.
b. An adequate knowledge of one or several foreign language(s), so as to be constantly informed of what is going on the world, especially what is related to theology.
c. The ability to deal with modern technology in order to make communication easier and service around him more efficient.