2014 GTU Graduates

On May 8, fifty-four graduates were honored at the GTU's 2014 commencement ceremony at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary's Chapel of the Cross in Berkeley, California. Thirty-seven graduates received the Master of Arts degree, three the Master of Arts with a concentration in Biblical Languages, and fourteen the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Graduates are listed below by degree and include their thesis title, area of study or school of affiliation, committee members, and thesis abstract; language specialization is noted for MABL graduates in lieu of thesis information.

Master of Arts

Shmaryahu Brownstein

From Want to Wealth: Continuity, Contiguity, and Innovation in Habad Hasidism

Center for Jewish Studies

Naomi Sheindel Seidman (Coordinator), Deena Aranoff

The thesis explores the relationship between Habad Hasidic speculative literature and thought and the movement’s sociohistoric context and vagaries. The discourses of two Habad rebbes are used to illustrate continuities and divergences of thought, context, and leadership styles, as well as the relationship between the two discourses and their situations.


Sunglae Cho

Calvin’s Teaching on the Spiritual Journey toward the Restoration of the Image of God

Pacific School of Religion

James F. Lawrence (Coordinator). Arthur G. Holder

In Calvin’s understanding, after the Fall of Adam, all human beings have been depraved and lost the image of God in which they were created. This thesis contends that the ultimate goal of Calvin’s Spirituality is to restore Christians to a life oriented toward God in order to be restored to their original design: being in the image of God.


Sukgi Choi

Evil, Meaningless Suffering, and Providence

San Francisco Theological Seminary

Elizabeth Liebert, S.N.J.M. (Coordinator), Ted F. Peters, Rebecca Prichard

The post-modern holistic view flanked by the scientific understanding of universe treats the conditional nature of theodicy with a systematic theological method. Evil comes into the distance between the infinite Creator and the finite created. Hidden immanence is a paradoxical faith in the midst of darkness. Healing of meaningless suffering is possible by invoking God to come into the suffering.


Diana Clark

The Ambattha Sutra of the Buddhist Pali Canon: Its Socio-Historical and Literary Context

Institute of Buddhist Studies


Richard K. Payne (Coordinator), Scott A. Mitchell, Gil Fronsdal

This thesis compares the Ambattha Sutra to the Śvetaketu story in the Upaniṣhads and the Brahmāyu Sutta in the Nikāyas, demonstrating that the Ambattha Sutra shares elements with these religious texts from two different religious traditions.  In order to explore the intentions of the composer(s) of the sutta, the socio-historical context and predominant themes in the sutta are also presented.


Brooks R. Dampman

Theosis in Teaching and Practice

Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute

John Klentos (Coordinator), Metropolitan Nikitas Lulias

An argument could be made that for Orthodox Christianity the doctrine of theosis is a lens through which all aspects of theology can be viewed. Theosis is not just a theological idea; it is the reason for our existence, the reason behind the Incarnation, it is something to strive for, something to be achieved, the end goal of Christian salvation.


Farah El-Sharif

“Making Light” of Islam: Representations of Sufism in American Religion and the Public Sphere

Center for Islamic Studies

Marianne Farina, C.S.C.

This thesis looks at case studies from American popular culture, religion, and the public sphere, that highlight a tendency to manufacture Sufism as “good Islam.”  It looks at the demand for religious moderation made on Muslims by promoting Sufism as a “gentler” “more peaceful” form of Islam of the secularizing process therein.


Christina N. Ellsworth

The Good Intentions, the Bad Consequences and the Ugly American: Examining the Logistical and Cultural Dilemmas of International Volunteerism

Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

Jerome P. Baggett (Coordinator), Lisa Fullam

This thesis examines how the uncritical nature of American volunteerism in underdeveloped countries has led to detrimental consequences such as paternalistic methods of service, utilizing research and data compiled from one particular organization.  I demonstrate that various tensions are likely to arise within such organizations in their attempts to meet the needs of both the volunteers and the communities in which they are working.


Carole Gallucci

Lojong for Buddhist Chaplains

Institute of Buddhist Studies

Daijaku Judith Kinst (Coordinator), Scott A. Mitchell

This thesis demonstrates how the Buddhist teachings of no-self, verses from Shantideva’s The Way of the Bodhisattva (Bodhicaryāvatāra), and the practice of Lojong can support and enrich the work of chaplaincy in an interfaith setting.


Patricia Hellman Gibbs

God’s Indwelling as Radiant Intellect: An Intertextual Reading of Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed

Center for Jewish Studies

Deena Aranoff (Coordinator), Naomi Sheindel Seidman

Moses Maimonides believed first in Torah as a source of truth.  Nevertheless, he sought truth from wherever source it might proceed, even across religious and epistemological boundaries. This paper studies the language of God’s indwelling in the Guide of the Perplexed, demonstrating Maimonides’ unique adaptation of the Jewish concept through incorporation of Islamic and philosophic ideas.


Sarah Crary Gregory

The Empire Has No Close: The Catholic Church in a World without Place

Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University


Thomas J. Massaro, S.J. (Coordinator), Jeffrey Mark Burns

Globalization and its social and economic consequences have posed challenges for perhaps the largest, oldest “multinational corporation”—the Roman Catholic Church.  This thesis explores the opportunity the Church may grasp to engage once again with a global people and reap the rich promise and rewards of inculturation.


Hilda Cruz Guiao

The Deconstruction, Reconstruction, and Reparation of “Lily of the Mohawks”: Saint Kateri Tekakwitha for Native Americans and the Catholic Church Today

Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

William R. O’Neill, S.J. (Coordinator), Lisa Fullam

This thesis examines how Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native North American saint, is a critical symbol of healing and reconciliation between Native Americans and the institutional Catholic Church.  Through the elements of reconciliation, which are recognition, reconstruction, and reparation, this research shows the negative effects of Native Americans’ colonization.  This is paramount to understanding that Native American history and current lived experience is part of the Catholic Church’s history and experience.


Chenxing Han

Engaging the Invisible Majority: Conversations with Young Adult Asian American Buddhists

Institute of Buddhist Studies


Scott A. Mitchell (Coordinator), Peter Yuichi Clark

Despite comprising more than two-thirds of American Buddhists, Asian American Buddhists are both under- and misrepresented in academic and popular literature on American Buddhism.  Based on in-depth interviews with twenty-six young adults from a wide range of ethnicities and Buddhist backgrounds, this study highlights the diverse practices, flexible beliefs, complex communities, and hybrid identities of Asian American Buddhists.


Sarah Lynne Heddon

The Madrasa Early Childhood Program: An Integrated Model of Islamic Education in Kenya

Center for Islamic Studies

Marianne Farina, C.S.C., Judith A. Berling

By reviving traditional ideals of Islamic education and the spirit of the madrasa system vibrant on the coast of Kenya, the Madrasa Early Childhood Program (MECP) has empowered local communities to address educational inequality, strive towards sustainable community development and integration of Muslim minorities into larger civil and national spheres.  This case study, rooted within the context and history of Islamic education in Kenya, illustrates how Islamic education as a field is being redefined, reformulated, and reinvigorated.


Rhian Alice Jeong

A Postcolonial Feminist Critique and Affirmation of Religious Pluralism

Church Divinity School of the Pacific

Marion S. Grau (Coordinator), Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, Anh Tran, S.J.

Current theologies of religious pluralism rely on deceptive meta-narratives. As a response, this thesis explores the implications of removing or de-centering the concept of universal system. Through postcolonial feminist theories, the thesis deconstructs hegemonic discourses that undermine plurality, thereby demonstrating why subverting universal schemes is tenable and indispensible for constructing a religious pluralism that is more de-colonized and gender sensitive.


Paul Kacynski

Resistance, Recovery, and Resurrection: A Griever’s Response to Theodicy

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

Carol R. Jacobson (Coordinator), Gregory Anderson Love, Christina Hutchins

This thesis responds to theodicy from the perspective of one who is amidst a journey of grief following the tragic death of a younger sibling from bone cancer. Rather than attempt to reconcile the idea of a sovereign, world-controlling God with the existence of evil, this thesis argues that suffering is meaningless. God’s power as a compassionate presence is revealed in resistance, recovery, and resurrection.


Deenaz Kanji

Transformation in Contemporary Sufism: Contested Meanings and New Mediation of the Qawwali Tradition

Center for Islamic Studies


Judith A. Berling

This thesis explores the effects of globalization on religion by focusing on the qawwali, a traditional spiritual practice of South Asia, rooted in the contexts of community and ritual. The raison d’etre of the qawwali is to enable a transformation of the self through the power of music and poetry by facilitating the transference of barakah (spiritual grace), from master to disciple. Qawwali has undergone changes in the recent past, especially in the way diasporic communities experience it through different media such as movies, concerts, and the internet, which reorient the practice. The thesis documents how new media, facilitated by various globalizing processes, allow Muslims and others, removed from the original context of production, to continue to experience the qawwali. This investigation helps us understand the contested meanings and new mediations of the qawwali tradition.


Jennifer Kemp

Nationalism in the Divine Promises to Jacob in Genesis

Pacific School of Religion

Aaron Brody (Coordinator), Barbara Green, O.P.

This thesis examines the divine promises to Jacob as myths and asks how each presentation of the promise reflects national identity. By utilizing neo-documentarian source theory and Anthony Smith’s ethno-symbolic approach to nationalism, the thesis finds that ancient Israel’s national identity was multi-faceted, incorporating their Egypt experience, their self-understanding as chosen, and their social boundaries into their understanding of what constitutes authentic Israel.


Jinseok Kim

The Use of Deductive and Inductive Sermon Forms in Korean Preaching

Pacific School of Religion

Mary Donovan Turner (Coordinator), Sangyil Sam Park

There are historical, cultural, and political factors that affected a reinforced preaching style, deductive, in Korea.  In a postmodern world, preachers and congregants felt a necessity for a new style, inductive, in the Korean church.  This thesis looks for ways that inductive preaching can begin to be incorporated into a deductive form by the use of inductive sermon introductions.


Michael Langley

A Historical and Philosophical Juxtaposition of Meister Eckhart and Baruch Spinoza

Pacific School of Religion

Inese Radzins (Coordinator), Naomi Sheindel Seidman

Meister Eckhart and Baruch Spinoza were two of the most prominent and radical philosopher’s who argued that God expressed itself in all things and all things were expressions of God. There have been few attempts to perform a comparative study of these two influential philosophers. This project brings Eckhart and Spinoza together in two ways. First, by examining the historical conditions that surrounded their exclusion from their respective religious communities, and second, by examining each philosopher’s claim that the individual could attain freedom from misery by living according to a “practical philosophy.”


Joel Layton

The Interiorization of Sexual Sin in Augustine’s Moral Theology and its Effects upon the Response to Sexual Violence in De Civitate Dei

Pacific School of Religion

Randall Miller (Coordinator), Bernard Schlager, Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski

The primary goal of this thesis is to investigate Augustine of Hippo’s theological and moral response to sexual violence victims.  The thesis argues that Augustine’s response to instances of sexual assault is an improvement over those views prevalent in his time.  While many pagan and Christian thinkers promoted a shame-based ethic, Augustine argues that victims of rape should not be held morally responsible for the violence committed against them.


Su-Chi Lin

Homeland Imagination: Hybridity of Liao Ji-Chun’s The Scenery with Coconut Trees (1931)

Pacific School of Religion

Rossitza Schroeder (Coordinator), Eduardo Fernández

This thesis explores hybridity in The Scenery with Coconut Trees (1931) by Taiwanese Christian artist Liao Ji-Chun (1902-1976) in the lens of social-historical interpretation. Landscape painting in colonial Taiwan (1895-1945) enriches our perceptions of what homeland is, and creates a cross-cultural dialogue between the artist’s appropriation of Japanese imperial aesthetics and the viewer’s interpretation. Through the interaction between text and image, a transformative space between gospel and culture is created for spiritual formation.


Clark Andrew McNabb

Being and Knowledge: Gregory of Nyssa’s Anti-Eunomian Epistemology

Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute


John Klentos (Coordinator), Eugene M. Ludwig, O.F.M.,Cap., Metropolitan Nikitas Lulias

To refute Eunomius’ claim to comprehensive knowledge of God, Gregory of Nyssa argued for a reversal of the relationship between being and knowledge. Where Plato had claimed that the most real was the most knowable, Gregory argued that the most real is beyond discursive knowledge. Rather than knowledge, Gregory proposed that faith and virtue are the only way to God.


Kaitlin E. Miani

A Hunger for Initiation: Rites of Passage that Meet the Developmental Needs of Young Women

Franciscan School of Theology

Mary E. McGann, R.S.C.J. (Coordinator), Darleen Pryds

This thesis draws from ritual theory and developmental psychology to examine effective rites of passage for adolescent girls as they enter into young adulthood. Ritual experience can have a profound psychological impact on willing participants, and creating rites of passage that are tailored to the developmental needs of young women can be an effective way to help girls find their inner voice and a sense of empowerment.


Troy Bryce Mikanovich

Animated Reflections: Religious Critique and Construction in Adult Cartoons

Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University


Jerome P. Baggett (Coordinator), Michael T. Morris, O.P., 

This survey of adult prime-time animated television shows explores the way that cartoons interact with and portray religious subject matter. Far from just being outsiders looking in these series are involved in the dual-project of religious critique and construction, lampooning current religious trends while also reinforcing a narrative of “reasonable religiosity” which can then be appropriated by viewers as they construct their own religious identities.


Fateme Montazeri

Why Death? An Inquiry into Text and Context in Persian Painting

Center for Islamic Studies

Ronald Y. Nakasone, Carol Bier

Persian painting, as a form of art in the books of Islamic culture, is supposed to be idealistic and unrelated to social realities.  This thesis re-examines this supposition through a case-study of a manuscript produced in the late fifteenth century and suggests that the illustration subjects have been selected in response to current social discourses of the time.


Cristoffr Alixxandr Ortiz

Saul’s Canaanite Heritage: Cultural Continuities as Seen in 1 Samuel 28:3-19

Pacific School of Religion

Aaron Brody (Coordinator), Barbara Green, O.P.

In the necromantic encounter between Saul and the ghost of Samuel in 1 Samuel 28:3-19, the first king of Israel shows himself to be an animist, a man who moves fluidly between the newly adopted Yahwism of the Saulide State and his traditional religious practice, one that makes ample room for the presence of ghosts and spirits who can return from beyond the grave to influence human affairs.  In the naming of his children with both Yahwistic and Ba’al theophoric elements, Saul performs a balancing act between his duty to promote official Yahwism and his desire to avoid offending his traditional Cannaanite god.  These two acts show Saul to be neither a monotheist nor a henotheist, but rather the product of a complex polytheist, West Semitic and Canaanite religious tradition from which he is a direct cultural descendant.


Christopher V. Ramsey

Winston Churchill: A Founder of the Jewish State?

Center for Jewish Studies

Naomi Sheindel Seidman (Coordinator), Deena Aranoff

This thesis explores the whole of Churchill’s record from 1904 to May 1948 and concludes that Churchill not only played a critically important role in the Allied victory in World War II, but from 1904 to May 1948 he was in the main on the Zionists’ side in their quest for their Jewish State, and, his several absences and omissions notwithstanding—that Churchill, indeed, was a Founder of the Jewish State.


Sanna B. Reinholtzen

The Voice of Lament in Worship, and the Necessity Thereof

Graduate Theological Union

Lizette Larson-Miller (Coordinator), John E. Klentos, John C. Endres, SJ


Julia R. Sauter

Flourishing on Our Own Terms: A Liberation Theology and Spirituality for People with Disabilities

Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

Lisa Fullam (Coordinator), Bruce H. Lescher, Marion Grau

The thesis examines the liberation theology and spirituality of Gustavo Gutiérrez in light of how it may apply to people with disabilities.  The thesis opens with a chapter describing the phenomenon of ableism, or disability discrimination.  The focus is narrowed to the United States.  The second chapter develops a liberation virtue ethics schema for addressing ableism using Gutiérrez’s liberation theology.  The third chapter explores Gutiérrez’s liberation spirituality as a source of empowerment for people with disabilities during this liberation process.


Maura H. Schmitz

Spiritual Interpretations of Sacred Texts as a Devotional Reading: A Comparative Theology of the Song of Songs and the Japji

Church Divinity School of the Pacific

Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski (Coordinator), Moses Penumaka, Rahuldeep Singh Gill, California Lutheran University

This thesis uses a method of comparative theology to think about ethical-devotional readings of sacred texts, specifically the Song of Songs and the Japji. In a comparative reading, the Japji, a Sikh devotional liturgical prayer said each morning and the Song of Songs, a unique text in Christian canon, because it focuses on the erotic relationship of two humans, come together to reframe allegorical interpretations on the Song of Songs. Through it a vision of God’s Universal love, shown through erotic human love, can help Christians read the Song of Songs for its devotional and ethical qualities.


Brian Sennello

Akrasia, Sin, and Neuroscience: A Re-evaluation of the Thomistic Treatment of Akrasia in Light of Cognitive Neuroscience

Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Michael J. Dodds, O.P. (Coordinator), Bryan Kromholtz, O.P., Mark Graves, Fuller Theological Seminary

Akrasia, also known as incontinence or weakness of will, was treated by Aristotle and Aquinas as a sort of temporary ignorance regarding one’s actions. Recent discoveries in psychology and neuroscience suggest that another cause might be a simple lack of energy. How we use our limited budget of mental energy should be taken into account when considering the sinfulness of an action.


Sasha Snowden

Uncovering Voices: Angela of Foligno and her Spiritual Franciscan Identity

Franciscan School of Theology


Darleen Pryds (Coordinator), Deena Aranoff

In this thesis I argue that Angela of Foligno, 13th century mystic, was a formative member of the Spiritual Franciscan movement who has been largely excluded from the history of the Spiritual Franciscans. Angela’s near absence is due primarily to a privileging of the roles of men over and above those of women.


Nicole Steinmetz-Nelson

Until All Hungers Be Fed: Towards an Ethos of Food Justice for U.S. Catholics

Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

Jerome P. Baggett (Coordinator), Christopher J. Renz, O.P.

The industrial food system is broken.  By separating food from its primary function of nourishing people, it contributes to both physical and spiritual hunger.  Drawing upon our tradition and thinking theologically about food enables Catholics in the United States to embark upon a spiritual quest to heal the broken relationships that are constitutive of these hungers and animate work towards greater food justice.


Trent J. Thornley

A Literary Analysis of the Ariyapariyesanā Sutta

Institute of Buddhist Studies

Daijaku Judith Kinst (Coordinator), David Matsumoto, Gil Fronsdal, Eleanor H. Rosch, University of California, Berkeley

The thesis reads the Ariyapariyesanā Sutta in the Majjhima Nikaya of the Pali Canon as a literary work.  Using literary analysis, the thesis proposes the Sutta displays a highly literary design, including chiastic structures that transmit and illuminate meaning in relation to the Sutta’s contents. The thesis hopes to contribute to an emerging methodology and field of “Buddhist Chiasmus.”


Ryan Thomas Thornton

When This Isn’t That: Formal Distinction and John Duns Scotus’ Account of the Trinity

Franciscan School of Theology


Mary Beth Ingham, C.S.J. (Coordinator), George E. Griener, S.J.

This study not only shows that John Duns Scotus’ (1265/1266-1308) account of the Trinity is not the “formal distinction” that scholars attribute to him, but it also highlights the Subtle Doctor’s argument as one of the most compelling accounts of how God in order to be God is both a unity and a plurality, one and three, three and one.


Todd Whelan

Jewish Cowboys and the Myth of the Frontier: Scripting Jewishness in American Mass Culture

Center for Jewish Studies

Naomi Sheindel Seidman (Coordinator), Deena Aranoff

This thesis uses the figure of the Jewish cowboy in early twentieth century mass media in the context of national historiography to argue that Jewishness functions as a cultural code for representing European immigrants and their distance from the frontier.  Through mimicry and masquerades, Jewish cowboys transform the mythic foundations of American historiography.


Randi Wren

Forming America: In the Name of God, The Hebrew Bible and Liberty

Center for Jewish Studies

Naomi Sheindel Seidman (Coordinator), Kathleen Kook

Biblical principles provided insight, guidance, and a framework of moral values to the founders of the United States Republic. This thesis explores the founders’ specific biblical beliefs, as well as how they interpreted and appropriated biblical principles. The thesis also investigates the extent to which these principles were cited in the Declaration of Independence, upon which the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address were constructed.  In addition, the thesis shows the parallels that the founders saw that caused them to view the republic as a second Israel.


Master of Arts with a Concentration in Biblical Languages

Cheongsoo Park

Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

John C. Endres, S.J. (Coordinator), Barbara Green, O.P.

Biblical Hebrew (Primary), Biblical Greek (Secondary), English (Modern Language)


Joo Young Park

San Francisco Theological Seminary

Eugene Eung-Chun Park (Coordinator), Jean-Francois Racine

Biblical Greek (Primary), Biblical Hebrew (Secondary), English (Modern Language)


Justin Staller

Pacific School of Religion

James F. Lawrence (Coordinator), Albert Paretsky, O.P.

Biblical Greek (Primary), Biblical Hebrew (Secondary), French (Modern Language)


Doctoral Graduates: Doctor of Philosophy

Peter Claver Ajer

The Death of Jesus and the Politics of Place in the Gospel of John

Biblical Studies

Jean-François Racine (Coordinator), David Balch, Darren C. Zook, University of California, Berkeley

Roman imperial rule serves as a context for the Fourth Gospel. In this late-first century colonial milieu, the oppressive ideologies of Rome devastate the Johannine Community and the entire inhabitants of Palestine. John’s narrative of the death of Jesus both responds to empire and forms a community that seeks its liberation from Rome. To achieve this, John strips the story of the death of Jesus of any suffering and presents it as a triumph. The Gospel also constructs political spaces in a way that challenges empire and its Jerusalem allies.


Trisha Williams Akbeg

The Politics of Vice and Virtue: Sex Panics, Faith-Based Activism and the Secularization of Sin

Interdisciplinary Studies

Jerome P. Baggett (Coordinator), Bernard Schlager, James A. Morone, Brown University

This dissertation investigates the evolution of evangelical faith-based activism and the expansion of sex-centered American morality politics. I argue that activists have achieved many of their legislative goals through the application of a two-fold strategic repertoire that (1) capitalizes on moral panic to mobilize actors and shape discourse; and (2) adapts frames and legal tactics in innovative ways to avoid constitutional challenges.


Joel Edward Brown

The Goddess and the Garden: The Israelite Understanding of the Genesis 3 Narrative

Biblical Studies

Gina Hens-Piazza (Coordinator), Aaron Brody, Marian Feldman, University of California, Berkeley

This dissertation examines the Genesis 3 narrative in the light of art historical evidence.  It argues that Genesis 3 was understood in Iron Age Israel as a rhetorical argument relating the triumph of Yahweh and his followers over Asherah and her followers.


Courtney Bruntz

Commodifying Mount Putuo: State Nationalism, Religious Tourism, and Buddhist Revival

Cultural and Historical Studies of Religion

Judith A. Berling (Coordinator), Richard K. Payne, Patricia Berger, University of California, Berkeley

This dissertation investigates the effects of religious tourism development on the commodification of China’s sacred Buddhist Mountain, Putuoshan.  In the process of commodification, Mount Putuo has been sold as a secular community representing state constructions of nationalism, but it has also been reclaimed by cultural nationalists and global Buddhist organizations who have contributed to great religious revival. This dissertation investigates the socio-economic movements of such pertinent actors.


Alicia G. Dean

Let No Tongue on Earth Be Silent: Broadening Understandings of God and the Human Community

Liturgical Studies

Mary E. McGann, R.S.C.J. (Coordinator), Lizette Larson-Miller, John M. Allison, Jr., University of North Texas

Using an intertextual method that builds on the work of Mikhail Bakhtin in the area of dialogism, this project investigates how the application of the work of postcolonial feminist theologians can build on the critique of feminist liturgical theologians in order to move toward a re-envisioning of God, the community of believers, liturgical language and images.


Amy Genevive Dibley

Abraham’s Uncircumcised Children: The Enochic Precedent for Paul’s Paradoxical Claim in Galations 3:29

Near Eastern Religions

LeAnn Snow Flesher (Coordinator), Eugene Eung-Chun Park, Daniel Boyarin, University of California, Berkeley, Erich S. Gruen, University of California, Berkeley, Yair Zakovitch, Hebrew University

This study proposes the Book of Dreams as the precedent for Paul’s program of Gentile reclamation qua Gentiles, predating the composition of the epistles by two centuries.


Susannah Kayko Driedger Hesslein

‘Overlapping Membership’ and the Two Natures of Jesus Christ: A Nonsupersessionist Christology

Systematic and Philosophical Theology

Marion Grau (Coordinator), Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, Thomas Cattoi, Yasmeen Abu-Laban, University of Alberta

This dissertation constructs a Christology that brings together Jesus’ particular Jewish existence (his human nature) and his universal transcendence (his divine nature), while maintaining the equality, unity, and full participation of both natures, by proposing that both natures interact in a relationship of multiple-formativity to constitute the one person of the Incarnation through ‘contextual universalism’ and ‘overlapping membership.’


SungAe Ha

A Reading of the Divine Speech in Job in Light of the Zhuangzi: From an Asian Feminist Perspective

Biblical Studies

Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, Claremont School of Theology (Coordinator), Judith A. Berling, Archie Lee, Chinese University of Hong Kong

This study of reading the divine speech in Job in light of the Zhuangzi, read from an Asian feminist perspective, challenges the theological proposition of an all-powerful God governing history and the cosmos, as well as the anthropocentric and hierarchical understanding of the God-human-creature relationship, which have been employed as controlling ideologies to serve oppressive power and the status quo.


Theresa Ladrigan-Whelpley

Toward Spiritualities of Traditioning: A Critical Rendering of the Charismatic Dimensions of the Lay Vocation in the Roman Catholic Church

Christian Spirituality

Arthur G. Holder (Coordinator), Elizabeth Liebert, S.N.J.M., Thomas M. Beaudoin, Fordham University

The hermeneutic of traditioning, when applied to the vocational spiritualities enacted by lay affiliates of Roman Catholic religious institutes, advances Roman Catholic lay vocational theology from one of faithful passivity, primarily oriented toward the reception of tradition, to one of faithful engagement, capable of contributing to the production of tradition through the particular, communal, and total enactment of the lay charismatic vocation within the world-church.


Thao Nguyen, S.J.

A New Way of Being Church for Mission Asian Catholic Bishops and Asian Women in Dialogue: A Study of the Documents of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences

Interdisciplinary Studies

Eduardo C. Fernández, S.J. (Coordinator), Boyung Lee, Peter C. Phan, Georgetown University

The dissertation studies the new emerging ecclesiology in the Roman Catholic Church in Asia presented by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.  This new ecclesiology aims to promote a participatory model of church in which women are invited to participate in leadership roles.  The dissertation argues that through dialogue and participation, Asian women have significantly influenced the Asian bishops’ consciousness of women’s concerns and roles.   


Elizabeth Ritter Conn

Divine Disruption: Toward a Theological Reconstruction of Hospitality

Systematic and Philosophical Theology

Marion S. Grau (Coordinator), Inese Radzins, Andrea C. White, Emory University Candler School of Theology

Hospitality is love of the stranger, where the stranger is recognized as the imago Dei, the disruptive coming-to-presence of the divine in the world in the embodiment of other humans. By attending to our shared vulnerability to processes of subject formation that render us differentially recognizable as human, we can more effectively embody, recognize, and welcome the imago Dei.


Carolyn Ann Roeber

“So Much Is in Bud”: Steps Towards Extending Habermasian Discourse Ethics Through an Ecotheology of Wonder and Wisdom

Ethics and Social Theory

William R. O’Neill, S.J. (Coordinator), Martha Ellen Stortz, William Rehg, S.J., St. Louis University

Drawing on Celia Deane-Drummond’s use of wonder and wisdom in ecotheology, this dissertation claims that Habermas’s Discourse Ethics can be extended to include moral obligations to nonhuman life, arguing that our lifeworld includes relationships with all life which must be considered in discourse, and that an irreducible common good encompassing the entire community of life necessarily broadens our understanding of justice.


David Rosenberg-Wohl

Reconstructing Jewish Identity on the Foundations of Hellenistic History: Azariah de’ Rossi’s Me’or ‘Enayim in Late 16th Century Northern Italy

Jewish Studies

Erich S. Gruen, University of California, Berkeley(Coordinator), Thomas Dandelet, University of California, Berkeley, Christopher Ocker

Me’or ‘Enayim is conventionally considered to be early modern Jewish history. Recent scholarship tends to consider the work Renaissance historiography, Counter-Reformation apology, or some combination of the two. This dissertation argues that Azariah de’ Rossi wrote Me’or ‘Enayim  neither as history nor as apology but rather to articulate his vision of a new Jewish identity for the Jews of his time and place. De’Rossi’s Me’or ‘Enayim is about the usefulness of history—namely, history in support of identity.


Gavin Wittje

The Voice of One Crying out in the Wilderness: Post-war Dance and the Ethics of Intense, Inter-personal Vulnerability

Interdisciplinary Studies

Naomi Sheindel Seidman (Coordinator), Gabriella Lettini, Frederick M. Dolan, California College of the Arts, Katherine Mezur, Mills College

This dissertation argues, first, that social codes are inscribed in the form of negative affective states and the bodily postures associated with them, and second, that the variations of this disciplinary posturing that are performed by certain post-war choreographers operate to heal the shame component of the inscriptional wound.