Graduate Theological Union
The History Area offers its doctoral students two distinct tracks: History of Christianity and Jewish History and Culture.
- The History of Christianity track offers programs of study in the following fields: ancient and eastern Christianity, medieval Jewish-Christian relations, medieval Christianity, the Reformations broadly conceived, spirituality, Christian missions and American religious history especially colonial, church and state, religion in the American West and American Catholicism.
- In the Jewish History and Culture track, students can study Hellenistic Jewish and rabbinic literature, medieval Jewish history and thought, and modern Jewish literature and culture. Among the interests of the faculty are literary studies, history of ideas and language, the politics of translation and of cultural exchange. Students may work within the discipline of history as well as literary, religious, or cultural studies.
In both tracks, the department encourages interdisciplinary and comparative research. Students have the opportunity to work closely with professors from both the GTU and UC Berkeley.
Judith Bishop (Ph.D. '04), Associate
Devorah Schoenfeld (Ph.D. '07),
Core Doctoral Faculty
DEENA ARANOFF • GTU (Medieval Jewish Studies) • Jewish society and culture in the medieval and early modern European context; rabbinic literature; medieval patterns of Jewish thought; continuity and change in Jewish history.
JOSEPH P. CHINNICI, O.F.M. • FST (Church History) • American religious history; history of Vatican II; history of contemplation in Western Christianity; 13th Franciscan movement.
DANIEL JOSLYN-SIEMIATKOSKI • CDSP (Church History) • Late antique and medieval Jewish-Christian relations; cult of saints; late antique and medieval Latin Christianity; Anglican history; comparative theology; non-supersessionist Christian theologies of Judaism; Anglican theologies of religion.
EUGENE LUDWIG, O.F.M. Cap. • DSPT (History and Patristic Theology) • Cyril of Alexandria; Christian images; history of ancient philosophy; history of Christianity; Patristics.
JOHN HILARY MARTIN, O.P. • DSPT Emeritus (History and History of Religions) • Myth and ritual; noetics of symbolism; interreligious dialogue.
JAMES A. NOEL • SFTS (American Religion) • American religion; Black Church studies; African diaspora.
CHRISTOPHER OCKER • SFTS (Late Medieval and Reformation History) • Christianity from late antiquity through the Reformation; Cities, Friars, beguines, Jews, and Judaism; biblical interpretation, schools and scholasticism; humanism and theologians; cultural continuities within conflicts; late Medieval and Early Modern Germany.
NAOMI SEIDMAN • GTU (Jewish Culture) • Translation theory and the Bible in translation; secular Jewish culture; modern Jewish literature.
AUGUSTIN THOMPSON, O.P. • DSPT (Medieval Church History) • Medieval Church History, especially of Italy; Medieval philosophy, theology and lay piety; history of canon law; preaching and the medicant orders.
RANDI WALKER • PSR (American Religious History) • Religion in the American West; United Church of Christ history and theology; Christianity in the Pacific region; women, religion, and nature in the American West; religion and civil rights in the American West.
MICHAEL B. AUNE • PLTS (Liturgical and Historical Studies) • Liturgy and theology; history of early twentieth century Protestant theology; history of Lutheranism in the United States.
THOMAS E. BUCKLEY, S.J. • JST (American Religious History) • American religious history; U.S. Church-State relations; English Reformation; American Catholics and Vatican II; modern Christianity.
JEFFREY M. BURNS • FST (American Church History) • U.S. Catholic history; social justice; immigrant church; contemporary church; local church; mission and evangelization.
RONALD BURRUS • ABSW (Church History) • Augustine; Cyprian; North African Christianity; the Donatists.
MARY ANN DONOVAN, S.C. • JST (Historical Theology and Spirituality) • Early Church; history of spirituality; ecumenism; Elizabeth Seton.
GEORGE E. GRIENER, S.J. • JST (Historical and Systematic Theology) • 18th and 19th century Roman Catholic theology; Karl Rahner’s theology; Christian theology of God; inculturation of theology in Asia.
ARTHUR HOLDER • GTU (Christian Spirituality) • Christian spirituality as an academic discipline; history of Christian spirituality; Christian interpretations of the Song of Songs; medieval Christian mysticism; Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, and Benedictine spiritualities.
MARGARET McMANUS • ABSW (U.S. Religious History) • U.S. Women, religion, and reform.
DARLEEN PRYDS • FST (Christian Spirituality and Medieval History) • Lay spiritual practices; history of lay preaching; Mysticism; technology (esp. Social Media) and spirituality; sports and spirituality.
WILLIAM J. SHORT, O.F.M. • FST (Christian Spirituality) • Franciscan spirituality; Franciscan history; medieval spirituality; sixteenth century Spanish Franciscan mystics.
JANE STROHL • PLTS (Reformation History and Theology) • Luther’s theology; Lutheran confessional theology; ecumenism; women’s religious experience (late medieval/Reformation); implications of Reformation studies for contemporary pastoral practice.
Offered at all schools
Historical studies provide a means for developing an understanding of the Christian religion through critical historical investigation into the unity, diversity, and development of the Christian community from its origins to the present. In asking how Christians in other places and eras acted and believed, one acquires analytical skills to evaluate present actions and beliefs. Specific strengths include ancient and eastern Christianity, medieval Jewish-Christian relations, Reformation, Christian missions, and American religious history.
The history area trains students in the content and methods of historical scholarship. Graduates of the program will:
- demonstrate a broad and deep grasp of Christian or Jewish history;
- read the languages essential to the student's particular focus of study;
- exercise appropriate methods of historical analysis;
- formulate a research project that meets the standards of the discipline of history and which is also sufficiently clear to be understood by and of interest to scholars in other fields of cultural, religious, and theological studies;
- complete a sustained research project that makes an original contribution to scholarship.
During the student’s first semester in the doctoral program the advisor will appoint a committee of Area faculty members to conduct a diagnostic interview in order to assess the student’s academic strengths and weaknesses. The advisor will write a summary of the committee's findings and make recommendations for a preliminary plan of study to the student. A copy of this summary will be sent to the dean of student's office.
Each student, in consultation with the academic advisor, will prepare a plan for establishing language competency. In the History of Christianity track, the student is expected to show proficiency in two modern languages (other than his or her native language). In the Jewish history and culture track, the student is expected to show proficiency in Hebrew from any period relevant to her/his research as well as one modern language (other than English).
In addition, each student is expected to show proficiency in any other language(s) necessary for the planned concentration. Within the first year of study, each student will prepare a plan for establishing language competency in consultation with the academic advisor. This plan must be approved by the Area faculty.
During their two years of residence, students are expected to participate in doctoral seminars (5000 and 6000 levels) at the GTU and UCB. All students must take one seminar in Historical Method and at least six other doctoral seminars.
- In the History of Christianity track, the following four seminars, offered on a two year cycle, are required to demonstrate general competency in:
- Early Christianity (to 800)
- Medieval Christianity (600-1400)
- Early Modern Christianity (1300- 1650)
- Modern Christianity (since 1650)
In consultation with the advisor, each student will also select at least two topical seminars such as American Religious History, History of Missions and Missiology, Global Christianity, Orthodoxy, etc.
- In the Jewish History and Culture track, six doctoral seminars must cover three out of the four following historical periods in Jewish History:
- Biblical (First and Second Temple period)
- Late Antiquity (Hellenistic period to early Middle Ages)
- Medieval and Early Modern
The student, in consultation with the academic advisor, submits an exam proposal for approval by the Area. The proposal includes the members of the comprehensive examination committee, a description of the exams, and bibliographies for the special exam and the research paper.
Before the student begins the comprehensive examination process, the committee will evaluate the student’s command of the recommended material. The student may not proceed with the comprehensive examination process until any serious deficiencies have been remedied.
In addition to a general competence demonstrated by work in seminars, students are expected to acquire competence in a specialization. This is demonstrated by a closed book, three-hour timed examination. As noted above, the bibliography for this exam is drawn up by the student and approved by the comprehensive exam committee and the Area faculty. The exam should be taken no later than the fifth or sixth semester of full-time study.
Each student also elects a second field for which competence is demonstrated by a research paper (approximately 40 pages in length). This paper forms part of the dossier for the comprehensive examination. As noted above, the bibliography for this paper is drawn up by the student and approved by the comprehensive exam committee and the Area faculty.
Depending on the track the student is following, a possible second field might be: a second period of Christian or Jewish history or a topic that involves periods outside one’s specialization (for example, Christian-Jewish relations, church-state relations, ecumenism, education, missions, spirituality, etc.); the history of another religion (Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, etc.); or, another discipline (the sociology of religion, religious anthropology, systematic theology, etc.).
Each student finally undergoes an oral examination by the comprehensive examination committee. This is a discussion of the field of specialization and the paper written for the second field. The oral examination follows the written examination as soon as is practical within the semester that the written exam is taken.
After successfully completing the Comprehensive Examinations the student submits a dissertation proposal to the Area faculty and the Doctoral Council for approval. An oral defense is conducted upon completion of the dissertation.
Students who declare History as an Allied Field will be required to take two 5000-level or above history seminars, one of which will ordinarily be the area's methodology seminar. A History Core Doctoral Faculty member must be on the student's comprehensive exams committee.