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Power, Persuasion, and the Fathers of the Church

Registration is now open for this remote, 3-credit course that runs from January 17 - May 11


You are invited to enroll...

in an accredited course on the relationship between language, reality, and truth within the writings of the Church Fathers. Please join Professor Stephany Henry for this 3-credit, remotely delivered course for learners from across the globe, which meets twice weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:40 - 8:00PM EST.

Registration is now open and will close on January 10. Qualified applicants will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The class size will allow for frequent interaction between the instructor and students.

Please complete the Course Inquiry Form on this page to receive more information and the link to apply to enroll in this course. 

Course Areas Include

Writings of the Church Fathers, Ancient Rhetoric, Patristic Theology, and Historical Context of Patristic Writings

Explore the place of Greek rhetoric and philosophy within the early Church

When Tertullian asked, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” he pitted Greek philosophical and rhetorical training (Athens) against the Scriptures and the Church (Jerusalem). And yet, even as Tertullian posed this question, he famously uses some rhetorical techniques he warns against.

Time and again, in the writings of Church Fathers like Sts. Basil, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom, we find a tension between the ideal of the simple speech of fishermen-apostles and the powerful, persuasive language central to the elite ancient education in which these Fathers had been trained. This course explores the place of Greek rhetoric and philosophy within the early church. We will study a range of views about how–or whether–powerful language could be adopted in service of teaching and persuading. We will see what the Fathers found dangerous but also advantageous about wielding language to lead their flocks. To do so, we will examine the development of ancient rhetoric, the writings of the Church Fathers, and the real historical and theological questions at stake in their writings. The question at the heart of this course is the relationship between language, reality, and truth–what are the possibilities, and limits, of words within the context of faith?

This is a writing-focused course, which means that coursework and discussions are structured in a way that helps students practice forming and supporting their arguments about primary sources, both visual and literary.

For more information or to apply to enroll in this course, please fill out the form below.

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Student Learning Outcomes 

  • Apply various critical and historical approaches to the study of religion.
  • Demonstrate theological thinking that equips students to advance the gospel entrusted to the Orthodox Church while respecting the diversity of viewpoints within the Orthodox Christian tradition and in the academy.
  • Demonstrate the applied skills of research, project management, and academic writing.

About the Instructor Stephany (Stevie) Henry received her Ph.D. in classics from Brown University in 2021. Her dissertation explores the educational training in rhetoric and philosophy that was typical in the fourth century CE when many Church Fathers flourished. Her primary academic interests revolve around how the early Church engaged with its surrounding culture. She has taught university-level classes on topics ranging from rhetoric, history, literature, writing, Greek, and Latin. She is excited to be part of the community of Hellenic College.


Admission Requirements

  • Complete the Course Application that collects contact information. Fill out the inquiry form above to receive the link to the application.
  • A recommendation letter from a parish priest, parish lay leader, or professor.
  • A current college transcript (unofficial).

Course Facts

  • Course Delivery
    Remote, synchronous delivery through Canvas and Zoom
  • Time and Class Dates
    Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:40 - 8PM EST, January 17-May 11. Here is the link to the academic calendar.
  • Course Size
    To preserve the character of the Hellenic College education, enrollment will be limited.

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