2015 GTU Graduates

On May 7, forty-four graduates were honored at the GTU's 2015 commencement ceremony at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary's Chapel of the Cross in Berkeley, California. Twenty-four graduates received the Master of Arts degree, three the Master of Arts with a concentration in Biblical Languages, and seventeen 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

Fr. Hovel (Artak) Ohanyan

Water as a Symbol of Spiritual Rebirth in the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church

Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute


John Klentos (Coordinator)

Metropolitan Nikitas Lulias

This thesis describes the theological symbolism of water in the Liturgy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. We focused upon the theological, symbolic, and liturgical aspects of water in the Armenian Church. Water is life-giving and my thesis demonstrates (first time in the English language) that water gives spiritual life to Armenian Apostolic Christians.


Ramona Rachita

Byzantine Philoptochia in the Sermons of the Cappadocian Fathers and Saint John Chrysostom and Institutional Social Care in Romania

Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute

John Klentos (Coordinator)

Metropolitan Nikitas Lulias

As a branch of philanthropy, philoptochia is love in action for the poor and the ultimate definition of God’s relationship to humankind. According to the poverty sermons of the Church Fathers in the fourth and fifth centuries, faith and charity are the two necessary sides of the same work. They are the inner and outer heart of any human being.


Enver T. Rahmanov

Engaging Suffering, Embodying Compassion: The Bodhisattva Ideal, Contextual Theology and the Dalai Lama’s Dialogue beyond Religion

Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

Thomas Cattoi (Coordinator)

Daijaku Judith Kinst

“Compassion is the form love takes when suffering occurs,” says Dr. Barbara Fredrickson.  My thesis explores compassion as an engaged wisdom practice, essential for our survival and thriving.  My hope in writing this work is that in the midst of today’s suffering and despair, filled with unsatisfactory material pursuits and incomprehensible conflicts, we neither belittle nor romanticize compassion, but engage suffering and embody true compassion for the benefit of all beings.


Candice Tei Shibata

The Transformation of Attachment, Loss, and Love through Religious Experience

Institute of Buddhist Studies

David Matsumoto (Coordinator)

Daijaku Judith Kinst

This thesis defines and explores the importance of developmental attachment. The Buddhist definition of attachment is reviewed as a mode of suffering. The study also examines how a developmentally attached individual can proceed through the grieving process via the Buddhist aspect of the middle way and explains the transformative process of the individual through religious experience.


Liusamoa Simolea

Reclaiming Fafine in Isaiah 7:14

Pacific School of Religion

Mary Donovan Turner (Coordinator)

Naomi Sheindel Seidman

Biblical scholars have disagreed for centuries about the meaning of the Hebrew word almah found in Isaiah 7:14. This thesis does not fully trace this theological and historical controversy, but focuses on the specific ways this controversy has affected the word choice of Isaiah 7:14 in the Samoan Bible. The transformation of the word fafine in the first translation in 1855 to taupou in 1877 is problematic and drives the question of this thesis. The argument put forward here supports a return to the term fafine as reclamation of the earliest translation.


Jeremy Makato Sorgen

A Critique of Nonviolence: On the Powers and Limits of Encounter in the Thought of Martin Luther King Jr. and Emmanuel Levinas

Pacific School of Religion

Randall Miller (Coordinator)

Naomi Sheindel Seidman

Dorsey O. Blake

This thesis explores conceptions of violence and nonviolence in the thought of Martin Luther King Jr. and Emmanuel Levinas to better understand how Kingian nonviolence works.  Levinas’ notion of “the face” provides an alternative explanation of the transformative power of nonviolent resistance, though with modifications to King’s theory. These similarities and differences play out in their respective models of the face-to-face encounter.


Kevin E.P. White

Constructing Fundamentalism

Graduate Theological Union

Christopher Ocker (Coordinator)

James A. Noel

Deena Aranoff

This thesis identifies and examines the contributors to The Fundamentals, an anthology that served as a founding document of the American Protestant Fundamentalist movement.  The set of contributors reflect an effort to construct a Trans-Atlantic, interdenominational network to resist perceived modernist trends.


Master of Arts with a Concentration in Biblical Languages

Shawn Dwight Benjamin

American Baptist Seminary of the West

LeAnn Snow Flesher (Coordinator)

Barbara Green, O.P.

Biblical Hebrew (Primary)

Biblical Greek (Secondary)

Arabic (Modern Language)


Joshua Alma Nelson

Pacific School of Religion

Aaron Brody (Coordinator)

Annette Schellenberg

Biblical Hebrew (Primary)

Biblical Greek (Secondary)

German (Modern Language)


Emily Rebecca Olsen

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

Steed V. Davidson (Coordinator)

Barbara Green, O.P.

Biblical Hebrew (Primary)

Biblical Greek (Secondary)

Latin (Modern Language)


Doctor of Philosophy

Ashley L. Bacchi

Uncovering Jewish Creativity: Gender and Intertextuality in Book III of the Sibylline Oracles


Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski (Coordinator)

John C. Endres, S.J.

Erich S. Gruen, University of California, Berkeley

John J. Collins, Yale Divinity School

This dissertation on Book III of the Sibylline Oracles uncovers how the author made creative narrative transformations and how these inter-textual and inter-cultural references shed light on the author’s context. It demonstrates the unique quality of the Sibylline Oracles as not only appropriating a known Greek figure into Jewish history, but also choosing a female voice as a conduit for prophecy.


José E. Balcells

Household and Family Religion in Persian Period Judah: An Archeological Approach

Biblical Studies

Aaron Brody (Coordinator)

John C. Endres, S.J.

Benjamin W. Porter, University of California, Berkeley

While texts are useful for understanding religious practices, they cannot be viewed as normative as they leave families out of the scholarly picture, and they overlook the existing archeology. This study investigates the architecture and ritual artifacts from Persian period Tell en-Nasbeh, to gain a deeper understanding of the religious ideas and practices of families and households in Judah.


Kyle Gareld Butler

Communities of Difference: Constructing an Ecclesiology of Multiplicity

Systematic and Philosophical Theology

Marion Grau (Coordinator)

Jay Emerson Johnson

Sharon Betcher, Vancouver School of Theology

This dissertation constructs an ecclesiology based on philosophical notions of multiplicity where identity is rooted in difference rather than opposed to it. It engages the philosophical insights of Gilles Deleuze in order to construct a concept of multiplicity. It then contends multiplicity not only offers recognition of difference within the church, but the actualization of difference in new forms of community.


Maureen Kelley Day

“I Am My Brother’s Keeper:” American Catholic Civic Engagement through JustFaith Ministries

Ethics and Social Theory

Jerome P. Baggett (Coordinator)

Lisa Fullam

Tricia Bruce, Maryville College

This dissertation studies a Catholic organization involved in social mission, JustFaith Ministries (JFM), to better understand themes in contemporary Catholic civic engagement more broadly. Based in Louisville, Kentucky, JFM designs social justice curricula to bring Christians, especially Catholics, across the United States to help alleviate poverty and related problems. The broader implications for American Catholic civic engagement are discussed.


Peter Lawrence Doebler

Seeing the Things You Cannot See: (Dis)-solving the Sublime through the Paintings of Hiroshi Senju

Art and Religion

Ronald Y. Nakasone (Coordinator)

Anselm Ramelow, O.P.

Yuriko Saito, Rhode Island School of Design

This dissertation explores the artwork and thought of the Japanese artist Hiroshi Senju, amplifies them through perspectives from Japanese aesthetics and ethics, and applies them to recent debates surrounding the religio-aesthetic concept of the sublime. It contends that Senju’s artworks evoke a sublime marked by a depth that emphasizes particularity and participation, thereby responding to problematic aspects of the sublime.


‘Ikani Latu Fakasiieiki

Delilah: A Postcolonial Discourse Reading of Judges 16:4-22

Biblical Studies

Gina Hens-Piazza (Coordinator)

Barbara Green, O.P.

Eugene F. Irschick, University of California, Berkeley

This project explores the ambiguity of the subject of Delilah in the context of Judges 16:4-22 and its interpretation. Guided by postcolonial discourse analysis, this project unveils the complexity and the multi-vocality embedded in this text and its history of interpretation, and argues that Delilah is an ambiguous colonial subject who can be both a colonizer and colonized simultaneously.

Matthew J. Gaudet

Moral Casuistry and the Ethnics of Military Combat

Ethics and Social Theory

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

Karen Lebacqz

William Werpehowski, Georgetown University

This dissertation examines the normative relationship between formal ethical theory and practical policy decisions on the moral question of war. American Presidents have justified the decision to go to war over the past twenty-five years by reference to a “Presidential” tradition of norms and narratives that operates casuistically and mediates the scholarly traditions from which these norms and narratives originated.


Elizabeth Tauba Ingenthron

In Jewish Pursuit of Justice: Using Critical Pedagogy and Critical Whiteness Studies to Teach Israel/Palestine in the United States

Interdisciplinary Studies

Judith A. Berling (Coordinator)

Boyung Lee

Zeus Leonardo, University of California, Berkeley

Santiago Slabodsky, Claremont School of Theology

This dissertation accomplishes two primary goals: 1) according to the principles of critical pedagogy, articulate the Jewish position in a racialized world as understood through the theoretical lens of critical whiteness studies, particularly in the United States and Israel/Palestine; and 2) propose a critical pedagogical approach to teaching about this topic in a university setting in the United States.


Jun Kim

Death and the Afterlife in the Book of Job

Biblical Studies

Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan (Coordinator)

John C. Endres, S.J.

John L. Hayes, University of California, Berkeley

This dissertation addresses the extensive presence of death and the afterlife in the book of Job by employing a study of the literary motif. The frequent appearances of death and the afterlife function as a literary convention that obtains a cumulative effect for the discussion of several interrelated theological issues.


Sang Yoon Kim

Humanistic Commentary on Scripture in the Reformation: Heinrich Bullinger’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians (1534)


Christopher Ocker (Coordinator)

Arthur G. Holder

Thomas A. Brady, Jr., University of California, Berkeley

This dissertation is a study of the Zurich reformer Heinrich Bullinger’s commentary on 1 Corinthians published in 1534. His commentary was an instrument for clerical education and formation of solidarity among Reformed churches. The humanistic commentary was methodologically distinguished by its copious, meticulous use of exegetical sources and detailed rhetorical analysis. Between Erasmus and Calvin, Bullinger became one important step in the development of biblical commentary in the sixteenth century.


Izak Yohan Matriks Lattu

Orality and Interreligious Relationships: The Role of Collective Memory in Christian-Muslim Engagements in Maluku, Indonesia

Interdisciplinary Studies

Judith A. Berling (Coordinator)

Marianne Farina, C.S.C.

Sylvia Tiwon, University of California, Berkeley

Clare B. Fischer

Based on the indigenous practices of time-tested Pela relationships in Maluku, this interdisciplinary dissertation proposes a symbolic-imagined model/process for interreligious relationships in orally-oriented societies of Indonesia and beyond. The dissertation employs collective memory as an active process of remembering by which a society forms collective bonds.


Patricia J. McKee

Scorning the Image of Virtue: Church and Theatre in Post-Settlement England

Art and Religion

Rossitza Schroeder (Coordinator)

Christopher Ocker

Devin Phillip Zuber

William B. Worthen, Columbia University

This dissertation examines how sixteenth-century English iconoclasm extended beyond the church to include the visual, literary and performing arts as consistent subjects of theological controversy. Using historical and intertextual analyses of literary, visual, and other primary sources, this study demonstrates that church and theatre were competing kinds of performance in early modern England.


Jenny Patten La Monica

Poetic Beauty: The Theological Aesthetics of Anna Jameson

Art and Religion

Michael Morris, O.P. (Coordinator)

Devin Phillip Zuber

Cecilia González-Andrieu, Loyola Marymount University

Susan Moulton, Sonoma State University

This dissertation demonstrates that Anna Jameson’s “poetical” approach constitutes a variant of theological aesthetics methodology.  By moving her readers beyond a simple understanding of the signs and symbols of Christian art and into a deeper appreciation for the profound union between the beauty of sacred art and the theologies contained therein, Jameson presents the contours of a method that moves beyond the art historical and into the properly theological.


Daniel Sheldon Robinson

Deliberation, Faith and Freedom in Alexander of Aphrodisias and Clement of Alexandria


Eugene M. Ludwig, O.F.M. (Coordinator)

Thomas Cattoi

Anthony A. Long, University of California, Berkeley

John Behr, St. Vladimir’s Seminary

This dissertation analyzes Alexander of Aphrodisias’ model of deliberation in comparison with Clement of Alexandria’s doctrine of faith within the larger question of the origins of the concept of free will in antiquity. These contemporaries each made use of Aristotle’s texts in addition to Stoic categories to develop a distinct indeterminist notion of freedom to do otherwise.


Kyle Kenneth Schiefelbein

Sin and Brokenness, Passage and Purpose: Reforms in Recent American Lutheran Rites for the Pastoral Care of the Sick

Liturgical Studies

Michael B. Aune (Coordinator)

Ruth Meyers

Jay Emerson Johnson

Elizabeth Gassin, Olivet Nazarene University

This analysis of the Healing rite in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, based on an archival investigation of the rite’s creation, includes an examination of ways of describing the rite as “passage” and determining if the rite “worked.”  The dissertation develops a Lutheran theology of healing that differentiates sickness and sin, critiques the language of “brokenness” and “wholeness,” and describes Christ as both “doctor” and “medicine.” 


Katy E. Valentine

“For You Were Bought with a Price”: Slaves, Sex, and Self-control in a Pauline Community

Biblical Studies

David Balch (Coordinator)

Barbara Green, O.P.

Annette Weissenrieder

Carlos F. Noreña, University of California, Berkeley

This dissertation uses a socio-rhetorical methodology to argue that Paul advocated freedom for slaves in 1 Cor. 7:21-24 so that they could avoid sexual fornication and exploitation.  Paul adapts the discourses of self-control over the desires present in Greek and Latin literature to his Christian context, which had particular resonance in Corinth as a city that valued freed slaves.


Lisa Ann Webster

Two for One: Reading Mystical Friendship in Early Modern French Catholicism

Interdisciplinary Studies

Judith A. Berling (Coordinator)

Arthur G. Holder

Naomi Sheindel Seidman

Mark D. Jordan, Harvard Divinity School

In a series of close readings of three mystical pairs – François de Sales and Jeanne de Chantal, Jeanne des Agnes and Jean-Joseph Surin, and Madame Guyon and François de Fénelon – this study considers the question of how spiritual friendships engage the problem of mysticism and morality in the context of the seventeenth-century French Catholicism.


Mee-Yin Mary Yuen

Toward an Ethic of Solidarity and Reciprocity with the Marginalized: Catholic and Confucian Social Ethics in Dialogue

Interdisciplinary Studies

Judith A. Berling (Coordinator)

William R. O’Neill, S.J.

Philip L. Wickeri

Edmund K. Chia, Australian Catholic University

This dissertation demonstrates the importance of integrating virtue ethics and principles-based human rights approaches in Catholic social teaching in order to provide a foundation for Catholics in Hong Kong to embrace a more active and comprehensive commitment to the needs of the marginalized.  I also demonstrate how virtue features of Catholic and Confucian ethics shed light on each other and contribute to formulate a more contextualized and inculturated Catholic social ethics.