The Sheptytsky Institute is offering the following graduate courses in 2018-2019. All Sheptytsky Institute courses require a previous Bachelor’s degree.
This course explores fundamental elements of Eastern Christian worship as expressed in the five extant liturgical traditions in use among the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches: Alexandrian (Coptic and Ethiopian), Armenian, Byzantine, East Syrian and West Syrian (including the Maronite). After an historical overview extending to the present, we will survey each tradition’s distinct liturgical environment, form of music, structure and cycle of services, as well as its prescribed liturgical books, utensils and vestments. In addition to historical and theological perspectives, the survey will include anthropological, psychological, and pastoral dimensions.
The course aims at a general introduction to the four families of Eastern Churches: Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Catholic and the Assyrian Church of the East. After reviewing the history of the Eastern Churches and the critical moments that shaped their development (including schisms, attempts at re-union and the impact of Islam), the course will give particular attention to the history and culture of the Assyrian Church of the East, the Coptic and Armenian Orthodox Churches, the Orthodox Churches of Ukraine, Greece and Russia, the Maronite, Melkite and Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Churches. Subsequently, the course will briefly survey the East’s distinctive approaches to liturgy, art, architecture, music, spiritual life, monasticism, social service, hagiography, mission and theology. The course ends with an assessment of the current state of these Churches in North America and their approaches to inter-Christian and interreligious relations.
An overview of the history, theology and current practice of the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Byzantine Churches, both Catholic and Orthodox, with a view to examining and assessing their centrality in contemporary Christian life and ministry. In this course, the student will examine themes such as the world’s sacramentality, the cosmic and personal transformation enacted in the Byzantine Christian Mysteries, and the Trinitarian foundation of all sacramental life. S/he will be able to list and identify many of the sacramental rites and texts and discuss and assess the works of several key Eastern Christian authors, both classical and modem. The student will be able to describe the evolution of these rites, and debate their possible reform today; and will be able to apply the theological vision emanating from these rites to contemporary situations.
This course explores the theological, spiritual and pastoral dimensions of the historical encounter between Eastern Christianity and Islam. The focus is on Syriac and Arabic texts (in translation) composed by Christian and Muslim writers living in the region constituted by today’s Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Turkey, from the 7-17th centuries. Regarding the interaction of the two faiths and their respective adherents, the primary sources exhibit a range of attitudes and approaches, articulated across a variety of genres. We will seek not only to understand the import of our texts for their original authors and audiences, but also to derive insights for addressing the challenges of religious pluralism in our day.
An analysis of the fundamental categories of faith, revelation and tradition within the Eastern Christian context, as understood according to its distinctive theological methodology, as well as a survey of the living monuments and media of the Holy Spirit’s life in the Church: Scripture, patristic texts, creeds, councils, liturgy, iconography, hagiography and the canonical tradition. We will explore the underlying modalities of faith and revelation especially in light of contemporary skepticism and hermeneutical concerns and gain familiarity with the characteristic methods of Orthodox theology (particularly apophaticism and antinomy). We will then analyze and critique the notion of “Tradition,” by exploring its classic expressions, and consider how academic theology may be incorporated into pastoral practice.
This course provides a survey of Eastern Christian teaching on the Triune God that focuses both on patristic and contemporary authors read in English. The course situates doctrine within the broader array of Holy Tradition (Scripture, Fathers,Councils, Creeds, Liturgy, Iconography, Hagiography, etc.), paying attention to the historical contexts in which various teachings arose and were defined. Comparisons will be made between Eastern and Western Christian approaches to certain questions, with some attention to ecumenical repercussions. Apophatic and antinomic approaches to theology will be emphasized as well as the connection between doctrine and spirituality.
The goals of the course are to situate the writings of these authors within the trajectory and context of their other works as well as the broader tradition within which the authors operated; and to mine these writings for answers to questions – both historical and contemporary- about the nature of God’s presence and action in the world, especially during privileged events called “the Holy Mysteries” (Sacraments). This will be achieved by a close reading of seminal or significant twentieth-century texts. This will help the student discern ecumenical connections with other Christian traditions. Among the many questions to be treated in dialogue with other traditions will be the scriptural foundations of the Sacraments, their “efficacy,” the nature of the transformation proffered in these rites, the nature of sacramentality, the diverse numbering of the Sacraments, and their place in increasingly secular environments.
The Orthodox Church’s history and Tradition have been described as the “challenge of our past.” Canon law is an important part of this Tradition. Through examination of primary and secondary historical sources, this course examines the canonical history of the Church, with a special emphasis on the Churches of the Byzantine tradition. Students are to be able to identify the Sacred Canons of the Church as well as their historical interpretation over the centuries. Finally, the process of codification of canon law in the Catholic Churches will be examined, with a critical exploration of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches as an approach to address the challenges of the modem Church while remaining faithful to the Canonical Tradition of the Christian East.
For more information on registration for courses with the Toronto School of Theology (TST), including the courses listed above, please visit the TST Registration Information page. We look forward to seeing you in our classes!