Institute of Theology

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PhD Courses Descriptions

THEO 610 – Intertextuality in Acts

Credits: 3                               

One of the most relevant issues in the history of Biblical interpretation is the use of the Old Testament by the New Testament authors. Lately, several theories of literary intertextuality have given way to revisit this question with new methods and procedures. Early in the 70’ and 80’ scholars like Julia Kristeva and Roland Barthes affirmed that every text is intertextual as they are in debt to the former written treasure, even if authors did not quote them explicitly. Later in the 90’ Gérard Genette developed a theory of intertextuality that helped and helps biblical scholars to deal methodologically with this significant topic.

The present seminar will work on the second volume of the Lucan Diptych, a text that bases its contents in the prophecies and narratives of the Old Testament, particularly as rendered in the Septuagint version. During the sessions and the research work, students will learn to use this methodology to extend their knowledge on the Book of Acts and rediscover the treasures of its theological approach to the first decades of the Christian Kerygma’s expansion in the Greek-Roman world.


 THEO611 - The New Testament Arabic Text in Antiochian Manuscripts                                         

Credits: 3

The Antiochian manuscript collections cover a wide range of New Testament translations into Arabic. The first part of this seminar will introduce participants into the time, types, categories and families of N.T. Arabic Manuscripts, as well as into a history of research on this issue. In the second part of the seminar students will work on the questions of the Greek Source and on the importance of lectionaries and whole New Testament publications in the Ottoman time.  This seminar aims to encourage students to write their PhD thesis in this field.


THEO612 - Biblical Apocrypha and Pseudoepigrapha in Eastern Orthodoxy

Credits: 3

The books considered by scholars as Biblical Apocrypha and Pseudoepigrapha have played an important role in the genesis of liturgical texts and celebrations, as some of them belong to the canon of the Orthodox Old Testament. In this seminar students will work on the interpretation of some relevant texts and will analyze the intensity and importance of their presence in liturgy. Special focus will be given to the Arabic manuscripts available in the region.


 THEO613 - The Debate about the Genuineness of some Pauline Letters                               

Credits: 3

This course presents the arguments and the counter arguments about the genuineness of the following Pauline Letters: Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews. This issue is of great significance, not only because it weighs in studying the historical environment of these Letters, and their true authorship and objectives, but also in view of the fact that the consequences extend beyond the historical information to touch two theological levels:

1-      Accepting the teaching in these Letters as normative in studying the thought and style of St Paul;

2-      Taking into consideration the content of these Letters in defining Christian tenets.

The issue of genuineness of the above-mentioned New Testament Letters became a timely subject in the last years, since it is seriously reconsidered. Even the German consensus on rejecting the genuineness of these Letters started to fall down. The revision of this position tickles the interest in investigating the positions of the Church Fathers and Writers, as well as of Eastern exegetes in modern time, on the genuineness of these Letters.


 THEO614 – The New Perspective on Paul Questioned

Credits: 3

The epithet “the New Perspective” on Paul, or rather “New Perspectives” - as it is often noted that the singular title gives an unjustified impression of unity -  designates a field of study in which many scholars are actively pursuing research and continuously revising their own theories, holding in common the belief that the historic perspectives of Paul the Apostle and Judaism are fundamentally incorrect. “the validity of the Sinaitic Law”, “human effort and good works”, “Pistis Christou”, “Grace”, “the atonement”, are some central issues discussed by the “New Perspective”.

This course investigates the positions of the scholars who embraced the “New Perspective” on Paul, and discusses them exegetically, comparing them to the “Patristic and modern Orthodox perspective”, as well as to the “Old Perspective” (Lutheran and Reformed”), in order to draw conclusions on the validity of the various interpretations.


THEO615 – Analyzing the Use of Verbs in Arabic Gospel Translations

Credits: 3

In this course, the Ph.D. candidate will research the use of the passive form in the Greek New Testament. The participant shall consult grammar and linguistic studies and articles related to this issue and then do a parallel research work related to Modern Arabic. The purpose of this course is to compare the grammatical and style differences in both languages and to develop a theory of translation for this particular type of verbal use. Throughout this course, special consideration will be given to the history of translating the Gospels into Arabic.


THEO620 - Modern Trends in Old Testament Hermeneutics                                                

Credits: 3

No other area of biblical studies is changing as rapidly as hermeneutics. With the addition of studies based on rhetorical, literary-structural, semiotic, socialscientific, and special interest approaches, it is impossible to keep up with the literature in this field. This course will attempt to offer to the students an introduction as well as assessment of Old Testament hermeneutical methods which prevailed in modern times until today, starting with the diachronic, or the so-called atomist school, and covering later developments such as the literary approaches embodied in rhetorical, narrative and redaction criticism as well as in intertextual, discourse and linguistic/semiotic analysis. Other modern analytical tools such as the social scientific and the reader response tool will also be analyzed and assessed. This course will be given as a seminar. Students will have to learn and apply these methods on selected texts of the Old Testament with the view of enabling them to evaluate the validity and the relevance of each of them for their exegetical work.


 THEO621 - The Old Testament in the Modern Middle Eastern Context                                           

Credits: 3

There is no doubt that the Old Testament has a central position in the discussions revolving around the turmoil caused by the rise of the State of Israel in the middle of the twentieth century. Ideologies either supporting or rejecting this political event have expressed themselves in a way or another vis-à-vis the Old Testament. Western approaches (ranging from moderate to extremist views) supporting the “right of the Jews” in having Palestine as their homeland, have read Old Testament texts in such a way that this right may be legitimized. On the opposite side, one observes various aspects of Marcionism in Middle Eastern Christian circles, which can be explained as a reaction to the first position. This seminar shall discuss these views, their history and application and how they affected the use of the Old Testament as well as how it is viewed in the Middle East. The study will be based on representative texts from different authors.


THEO630 - Deification in the Eastern Christian Tradition               

Credits: 3

The seminar is an analytical attempt to explore and survey the religious, social and cultural components which contributed to the evolution of the concept of theosis throughout the history of Eastern Christian Theology. It examines primary sources, whether historical or patristic, and focuses on the making of terminology and the theological language related to this issue.  The seminar also treats the major trends of reception of the concept of deification in the contemporary Orthodox theological context underlining its crucial role in the articulation of the Orthodox identity of Theology and Orthodox witness in the modern world, as well as its diachronic influence on the ethos of Eastern Theology as reflected in sacred art, liturgical forms and religious sensitivity in general.


THEO631 - Major Trends and Figures in Contemporary Orthodox Theology

Credits: 3

The seminar sheds light on the major centers of theological production in the contemporary Orthodox world and the circumstances of their creation and growth. It is an appraisal of the contribution of the theological schools and trends, as well as the prominent personalities, which contributed to the expression of Orthodox theology since the second half of the nineteenth century. It addresses the historical, cultural and socio-political backgrounds which shaped contemporary theological patterns and concentrates on the theological works and the scholarly efforts which engaged in the task of analyzing and criticizing the history of theological thought of this period. The seminar will also analyze the main problems and challenges in addition to the major intellectual theological topics which directed the dynamism of theological thinking and writing in the age of modernity.


THEO632 – The Patristic Anthropology of Fr. John Romanides

Credits: 3

This seminar explores the theological thought of Fr. John Romanides, with a particular emphasis placed on themes in his writings related to Christian anthropology. Special attention will be given to the biblical and patristic basis of his work on creation, the fall of man, and salvation in Christ—topics that opened a unique door for Orthodox theology in the 20th century, changing the focus and direction of theological thinking and teaching in the post-WWII era. The seminar will also examine Fr. Romanides’ contributions toward reviving patristic theology in our times.


THEO640 - Orthodox Churches during the Ottoman Period                                                

Credits: 3

This seminar will help Post Graduate Students –Ph.D. candidates– to analyze the situation of the Roum Orthodox communities under the Ottoman millet system as a persecuted community or a privileged community. What was supposed to be the apocalyptic end of the world had witnessed an important demographical progress of Roum Orthodox population. During four hundred years the Roum Orthodox lived what is so called as the “Greek Enlightenment Century”. Through some of the Antiochian manuscripts, students will analyze the different cultural currents of this era.

During this period, the four historical patriarchates were unified under the same political authority. This course will investigate the relations between those churches and study their relations with other churches such as Russia, Georgia and Romania.

They will learn through diplomatic reports about the Russian protection and its limits and through archives about the impact of Ottoman Reforms and their influence on the lay councils on the life of the Church.


THEO641 - The Contemporary Situation of the Orthodox Church in the World

Credits: 3

This seminar will study the different situations of Orthodox communities during the twentieth century and will analyze the different positive and negative issues experienced by the different churches such as:

  • Persecution through forbidding religion in Russia and population transfer in Cilicia and Anatolia.
  • Relations between Churches and states: Greece and Russia.
  • Interaction between national identity and religious denominations: Serbia, Russia.
  • Christian Ecumenism and interfaith dialogue.
  • The role of Orthodox Diaspora in the elaboration of a new theology: France, U.S.A. and others.
  • Internal problems and conflicts.
  • Survival and Renewal.

Through those different cases students are meant to learn how to cope with challenges of entering in modernity and preserving Tradition by emphasizing on the Antiochian experience. They will learn also from the behavior of the Church during economic and political crises. 


THEO642 – Christian Muslim Dialogue During the Ottoman Empire

Credits: 3

The course is an analysis of the impact of Ottoman institutions, e.g. Janissaries, Timar on Christian communities. Controversial Ottoman reforms, e.g. Capitulations, Tanzimat, regarded, by Muslims, as favorable to Christians, resulting in the deterioration of good neighborhood. The end of this period and the collapse of the empire led to discriminations and massacres against Christians.

Concepts such as Ra’aya , Miri, Citizenship , Badal askariyah … will be also studied.


THEO643 – Christian Muslim Relation During the Classical Period

Credits: 3

This course is a survey of Christian-Muslim relations during the different Islamic dynasties and analysis of the impact of external relations with e.g. Byzantines, Mongols, on the demographical and social situations of Christians, from their participation in political and cultural life during the Arabic golden ages to their marginalization after the Crusaders wars.

Topics also include the study of related issues, e.g.Ahl al Kitab,Ahl al dhimmat, Kharaj,Giziyat, separate living quarters.


THEO644 – Reading and Editing Manuscripts Archives and Inscriptions

Credits: 3

The course aims at initiating students to read different scriptures and to learn methodologies of cataloguing manuscripts, archiving documents and analyzing inscriptions.

Measures for editing ancient documents; understanding ancient texts and vocabulary, historical & geographical background, would be essential to make those ancient manuscripts well known by scholars.


THEO663 - History of the Antiochian Church Under the Ottoman Empire

Credits: 3

The students will analyze the situation of the Greek Orthodox of Antioch in the first two centuries were the new structures were imposed. In spite of their difficulties they succeeded to be an elite in the main cities of the Syrian Provinces. As main traders and well educated, they serve as secretaries, treasurers and main farmers of taxes for the governors.

During the last two centuries the church had to face the schism of the Uniates Greek Catholic and the proselytism of the Protestant and Catholic missions. The reforms of the Ottoman Empire introduce a new era of equality between Muslims and Christians as Ottoman citizens. The reforms which introduce lay councils in the administration of the church and the Russian schools bring the Antiochian Orthodox to arabize their church by electing an Arab patriarch.


THEO697 – Modern and Postmodern Philosophy

Credits: 3

This doctoral seminar aims to read and discuss several modern and postmodern philosophical texts. Because Postmodernism is a reaction to and rejection of certain tendencies of Modernity, the seminar will start with an overview of selected texts dealing with early modern rationalists and empiricists (Descartes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, etc.). In its second part, the seminar turns to the study of the critique of modern philosophy’s discourses as it appears in the texts of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche pointing in different ways toward postmodern thought. “French Theory” as it appears in the works of Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida and Lyotard, etc., and their radical critique of reason will be studied in depth through representative texts.


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Saint John of Damascus Institute of Theology
The University of Balamand

Address: Monastery of Balamand, PO Box 100, Tripoli, Lebanon
Tel: 00961 (0) 6 930 305 - Fax: 00961 (0) 6 930 304
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