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History of the Pappas Patristic Institute

The Pappas Patristic Institute was founded through a generous gift from Stephen and Catherine Pappas. It was established to promote the study of the Church Fathers in the context of the life of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, in service to the wider academy and field of patristic studies. It has been a center of scholarship in the Boston Theological Consortium for eighteen years, and its success is due to the labors and generosity of many individuals.

The Philanthropic Work of Stephen and Catherine Pappas

 

The life of Catherine Pappas (May 27, 1923 - January 28, 2015) was motivated by her faith, the example of her parents, and her love for children. Mrs. Pappas believed deeply in helping people suffering from hunger and illness, in supporting research and holistic patient care, and in promoting the study and practice of the Orthodox faith.

 

For many years, Catherine Pappas volunteered her time, talents and good spirits at the St. Francis House for homeless men and women in Boston. After her beloved husband’s death from brain cancer in 1995, Mrs. Pappas made leadership gifts to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital to advance brain tumor research and improve the treatment and quality of life of children with cancer and their families. Her legacy includes the Stephen E. and Catherine Pappas Center for Neuro-Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital, which offers care for patients with brain tumors and nervous system tumors; and an endowment for the Child Life Program in Pediatric Oncology (you can read about the 2015 'Catherine Pappas and Family Pediatric Oncology Challenge' here).

Both the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society and the Metropolis of Boston Philoptochos Society recognized Mrs. Pappas for her lifelong dedication to philanthropy and her generosity to others.

The Institute 2003-2021
Founding Members and Administrative Board
The Pappas Patristic Institute was founded in 2003 under the leadership of then-President Fr. Nicholas Triantafilou and then-Dean Fr. Emmanuel Clapsis. Its founding Charter called for the composition of an Administrative Board to reflect the religious diversity of its setting within the Boston Theological Institute by including Catholic and Protestant scholars of faith in addition to its Orthodox leadership. The PPI was led at its inception especially by the vision of its first Chairperson, Robert J. Daly, SJ, of Boston College.
The founding Board members, apart from Robert Daly, were
François Bovon (+2013)
Frothingham Professor of the History of Religion, Harvard Divinity School
Nicholas P. [now the V. Rev. Archimandrite Maximos] Constas
Associate Professor of Theology, Harvard Divinity School
Fr. George Dion Dragas,
Professor of Patristics, Holy Cross GOST
 
Fr. Theodore Stylianopoulos
Archbishop Iakovos Professor of Orthodox Theology and Professor of New Testament, Holy Cross GOST
Board members over the years have included Aristotle Papanikolaou, Paul Gavrilyuk, Jennifer Hevelone-Harper, Edith Humphreys, and Khaled Anatolios. You can see the current members of the Administrative Board on the About page, here.)
Directors

The PPI was directed from 2003 to 2021 by Bruce Beck, Assistant Professor of New Testament at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Dr. Beck received his BA at the University of Georgia and an MDiv and ThD from Harvard Divinity School. He has taught New Testament at Holy Cross since 2002. Under his leadership, the Institute established itself as a force in the field of patristics, organizing and hosting more than thirty-four thematic conferences, symposia, and educational programs on the campus of Hellenic College Holy Cross, hosting more than 700 scholars, graduate students, and laypeople, and launching a book series entitled Holy Cross Studies in Patristic Theology and History with Baker Academic. Dr. Beck served the Institute for eighteen years, establishing its reputation in the scholarly community and leading it from its inception to become a recognized center for patristic scholarship and teaching. In addition to thematic conferences, he established the Graduate Student Conference in Patristic Studies and the Summer Institute for which the PPI would become famous.

In the Spring of 2021, George Cantonis, President of Hellenic College Holy Cross, named Fr. Maximos Constas, one of the founding members of the PPI, to be the new Director of the Institute. Fr. Maximos brings to this position a long career in patristic scholarship and a strong record of teaching and research on the writings of the Church Fathers. (You can read a biography of Fr. Maximos here.)

Thematic Conferences

From its inception, the Pappas Patristic Institute has organized and sponsored conferences in the field of patristics and Early Christianity. Beginning in 2004, prominent scholars from the field of patristics and allied disciplines have gathered at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology to explore a variety of themes in the Early Church:

Apocalyptic Themes in Early Christianity, October 14-16, 2004

 

Wealth and Poverty in Early Christianity, October 13-15, 2005

Evil and Suffering in the Patristic Period, October 12-14, 2006

Sickness and Healing in the Patristic Period, October 4-6, 2007

The Holy Trinity in the Life of the the Church, October 9-11, 2008

Family and Children in the Patristic Tradition, October 13-15, 2011

Patristic Preaching and its History of Reception, October 9-11, 2014

Creation and Ecology: Insights from Patristic and Contemporary Christian Sources, October 5-6, 2017

Plenary speakers at these conferences included Cornelia B. Horn, Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Wendy Mayer, Margaret Mitchell, and his His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios. Papers were also given by Jeanne-Nicole Saint-Laurent, Erin Galgay Walsh, and Carrie Frederick Frost. The proceedings of several of these conferences were published as books.

Baker Academic Holy Cross Studies in Patristic Theology and History

The Institute's thematic conferences gave rise to a book series entitled Holy Cross Studies in Patristic Theology and History, published through a partnership between Holy Cross Press and Baker Academic. They include the following volumes:

Wealth and Poverty in Early Church and Society, ed. Susan R. Holman (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008).

Apocalytpic Thought in Early Christianity, ed. Robert Daly (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009).

The Holy Trinity in the Life of the Church, ed. Khaled Anatolios (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014).

Suffering and Evil in Early Christian Throught, ed. Nonna Verna Harrison and David G. Hunter (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker  

   Academic, 2016).

 

Contributors to the various volumes include John Behr, Bogdan G. Bucur, Thomas Cattoi, J. A. Cerrato, Brian E. Daley, Lorenzo DiTommaso, Matthew Drever, Douglas Finn, Georgia Frank, Paul L. Gavrilyuk, Dragos-Andrei Giulea, Alexander Golitzin, Paul A. Hartog, John Herrmann and Annewies van den Hoek, David G. Hunter, Joseph T. Lienhard, Bruce D. Marshall, John W. Martens, Bernard McGinn, John A. McGuckin, Kathleen McVey, Elijah Nicolas Mueller, Eric Phillips, Ute Possekel, Dennis P. Quinn, Nancy Patterson Sevčenko, Regina L. Walton, and Kallistos Ware.

 

The Archbishop Iakovos Graduate Student Conference in Patristic Studies

Another initiative of Dr. Bruce Beck, the Graduate Student Conferences in Patristic Studies were started in 2005 to bring together graduate students from Theology, Philosophy, Classics, and History programs around the country, as well as from universities in Canada and as far away as Greece, to present their work, receive critical feedback, and establish networks of friendship and collaboration in the study of the Church Fathers.

 

Over more than a decade, the conferences have hosted dozens of budding scholars who would go on to receive their PhD and enter a career teaching patristics and related subjects. These include Dr. Tikhon Pino, the current Assistant Director of the Pappas Patristic Institute, Fr. Alexis Torrance (Associate Professor, Notre Dame), Thomas Cattoi (Associate Professor, Graduate Theological Union), Jeanne-Nicole Saint-Laurent (Associate Professor, Marquette University), Erin Galgay Walsh (Assistant Professor, University of Chicago Divinity School), Fr. Demetrios Harper (Associate Professor, Holy Trinity Seminary, Jordanville), Jeffrey Wickes (Associate Professor, St. Louis University), Luis Joshua Sales, (Assistant Professor, Scripps College), Vitaly Permiakov (Associate Professor, Holy Trinity Seminary, Jordanville; Assistant Professor, St. Vladimir's Theological Seminary), Aaron Pidel (Assistant Professor, Marquette University, and Alex Petkas (Assistant Professor, Cal State Fresno), among others.

 

The Graduate Student Conferences have often been an opportunity for doctoral and masters students to present papers that are an early part of long-term dissertation and book projects. This can be seen, for example, in the case of Professor Matt Briel (Assumption University), who in 2012 presented a paper entitled "An Orthodox Thomist? Gennadios Scholarios II (1400-1472) on Providence" and would go on to publish the monograph, A Greek Thomist: Providence in Gennadios Scholarios (Notre Dame, 2020).

 

The Graduate Conferences have been a place where up and coming scholars meet one another and establish connections that last for the rest of their careers, bringing together more than two to three dozen graduate students at a time on the campus of Hellenic College Holy Cross.

 

Summer Program in Patristic Studies

In 2007, the Pappas Patristic Institute inaugurated the Summer Program in Patristic Studies, which offers graduate students, clergy, and laypersons a week of instruction and intensive immersion in the writings of the Church Fathers and other primary sources related to patristics, historical theology, and the history of Christianity. The program was set on the campus of Hellenic College Holy Cross, allowing students to reside in the dormitories, attend chapel services, and experience meals and fellowship together while exploring the thought of the greatest minds of ancient Christianity.

The Summer Program has been among the most beloved events organized by the PPI. It has brought researchers and faculty from throughout the US and abroad to offer between six and twelve courses each year. Instructors have included Nicholas Denysenko, Bradley Nassif, Brian Matz, and many others. Often, scholars have used the Summer Program to workshop books in progress. This is the case with two recent monographs: Dr. Samantha Miller (Whitworth University) has recently published a study entitled John Chrysostom and African Charismatic Theology in Conversation: Salvation, Deliverance, and the Prosperity Gospel (Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2021), which began as a course at the Pappas Summer Program; and Dr. David Goodin (McGill University) has likewise recently come out with a book entitled Confronting Evil: Theodicy in the Eastern Patristic Tradition (Alexander Press, 2021) developed from a course at the Summer Program.

The Future of the PPI

Under the leadership of Fr. Maximos Constas, the Pappas Patristic Institute hopes to renew its contributions to patristic studies, bringing together eminent scholars in the field for conferences, symposia, and workshops, and contributing to the edification of the academy and the entire Church through summer programs, colloquia, and publishing.