My family and I moved to Durham, England in August 2006 for me to do PhD studies at University of Durham. I’m studying under John Barclay (primary) and Loren Stuckenbruck (secondary) as my supervisors. Lord willing, we’ll be here for 3 years.

A little background about me…
I most recently studied at Dallas Theological Seminary. I originally wanted to go to DTS for its biblical language programs, but my first semester I got hooked by a couple of classes in historical and systematic theology (thanks to Jeff Bingham and Kent Berghuis). I got a ThM and primarily focused on historical theology. With the help of Bingham and Scott Horrell, I wrote my thesis on “The Two Natures in Christ and Deification in Maximus the Confessor,” a cozy night-time read I’m sure. While at DTS, I also worked at Watson Wyatt as an actuarial consultant, working with pension and retiree medical plans (from a corporate perspective). I ended up working there 3 more years after I graduated while we had our second son and tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. You can see a little more on the end stages of that process here. In Dallas we spent quite a bit of time at Fellowship Church, where I helped coordinate local missions.

Before DTS, I lived in Arkadelphia, AR. I’m sure most of you know where that is, but just in case you don’t, it’s about an hour southwest of Little Rock towards Texas. I did my undergrad work at Ouachita Baptist University (pronounced Wa-shi-taw), where I double-majored in Accounting and Biblical Studies. I married my lovely wife Heather when I graduated, but she still had a semester or two left. So, with not much else to do in Arkadelphia (I’m sure you are surprised), I did an MBA at Henderson State University, which happens to be nicely situated (practically) across the street from Ouachita. I had a great time at both schools. Key things that I took away from OBU: that I should probably pursue an academic career (particularly thanks to the Pew Scholars program there), a great introduction to Greek and Hebrew exegesis (thanks to Scott Duvall and Danny Hays), and a desire to never divorce academics from the church (thanks to Scott Duvall). I spent 4 years working with the Monticello Children’s Home and also got to help with drafting the way the national welfare reform would be applied to Arkadelphia (Clark County, AR). At Henderson, I got the opportunity to present my first academic paper (“Earnings Managemen and Institutional Ownership”) and also got to teach several undergrad business classes.

Here’s a bit about my thesis here at Durham…
Protestants tend to primarily focus upon Paul’s view of justification by faith, which has been interpreted as a judicial or forensic concept. However, others have commented upon his use of the concept of being “in Christ” as an important key to his understanding of salvation. In this way believers have a union with Christ, experiencing in a real way his death and resurrection. Several other themes in his theology can fit underneath this rubric, such as suffering as dying with Christ and sharing in the Spirit as rising with him. The problem is that it is not clear how the forensic and participation categories fit together in Paul’s thought.

Several authors have noted this tension. Albert Schweitzer devoted his Mysticism of the Paul the Apostle explaining this mystical union with Christ, but on the whole Protestants have remained attached to justification by faith. More recently, E.P. Sanders and others have also raised the issue of the importance of participation in Paul’s theology, but Sanders also humbly mentions that he and others really don’t know what that means. It is the deeper meaning of Paul’s participation statements that is our interest and not that of thinly veiled restatements of Paul’s language. As such, I agree with Sanders’ argument that Paul’s letters speak of a reality that is not fully captured in categories or explanations given by scholars to date.

However, we are not without a place to look for help in understanding this area. The Orthodox church has had the doctrine of theosis, or union with God, as its primary soteriological understanding since the early fathers. In their view, there is a union with God without confusion. Believers share in the divine life and through their union with God take on the divine attributes. This union with God was effected by Christ’s incarnation and death-resurrection. A common phrase to describe this is that “In Christ God became man so that we can become gods.” This obviously takes one far beyond the forensic categories of justification by faith, and is foreign to many western believers. However, theosis as the “missing” category for Protestants seems to provide a philosophical, historical, and (potentially) exegetical solution to our problem of how to understand Paul’s participation statements.

As such, theosis would provide a unifying soteriological model that incorporates several aspects of Paul’s letters. In particular, our union with God would include participation in both Christ and the Spirit. Also theosis could unify the already/not yet aspects of Paul’s soteriology as believers begin to share in God’s life now and are later fully transformed as they find greater union in his life at the resurrection. Scholars have also noted the direct connection between Paul’s participation language and his ethical imperatives. When making this affirmation, two issues should be remembered—one regarding other soteriological models and one regarding the extent of the participationist language in Paul.

In prior discussions related to the role of participation in Paul’s theology, two routes are followed. On one side, justification is often downplayed or argued away as only polemical. On the other side, participation is neglected or only flatly treated. My estimation is that one soteriological metaphor should probably not take center stage with Paul with the neglect of others. The emphasis on participation cannot be denied with its broad distribution and frequent mention. However, the role of justification also cannot be denied in Paul’s writings. As a result, one model or the other need not be denied when affirming the other. However, when analyzing Paul’s letters, it behooves scholars to make decisions about relative importance. So with these affirmations, a measure of balance must be incorporated.

Regarding the extent of the explicit language in Paul, we should probably not expect to find a summary of theosis such as that of a systematic theology. Paul’s letters were occasional and centered around his personal experience and the experience of the church. As such, Paul often assumes theological premises from which he argues for more location specific applications. As a result, finding support for theosis, if it exists, will be like that of finding the doctrine of the Trinity in the NT. That doctrine is evident in the NT primarily through the experience of the church but was not explicitly defined and categorized until later debates using Greek philosophical categories. As a result, a (potential) lack of direct evidence should not induce systematic theologians to discount theosis as a soteriological model.

With the emphasis on participation in Christ, Paul’s soteriology may more rightly be termed “Christosis.” As a result, to be understood as theosis, a high Christology would be required. Accordingly, as a development in the early church’s understanding of the Trinity is recorded in the NT, we would have to qualify the extent of theosis that could be found in Paul. For instance, Dunn posits a slow development in christological thought in Paul’s letters, whereas Hengel and Hurtado note an early development evidenced in Paul’s letters. The level of development will require a nuanced understanding of Paul’s soteriology as theosis. Like that of the development of the doctrine of the Trinity, this nuanced understanding of theosis in Paul would be foundational and not the fully developed theology clarified centuries later.

Paul’s use of participation language is prevalent in his letters but still remains to be fully investigated and understood. Theosis may be the missing key to understand Paul’s participation language. My aim is to determine what extent Paul’s language supports the concept of theosis and explore the ramifications of that. I believe this study will not only provide a fruitful study of Paul’s soteriology but also provide a better understanding of Orthodox theology by Protestants.

To see better see how theosis may be understood in Paul, I am not only looking at Paul but also Irenaeus and Cyril of Alexandria. These later writers that develop the idea of theosis will provide heuristic device to understand Paul. By comparing and contrasting their interpretation of Paul and their development of apostolic teaching, we will better see what within Paul was agreeable to a later more fully developed view of theosis but what was also discarded in that development. So in the end, I am doing a history of interpretation analysis of Paul rather than a history of religions approach.


87 Responses to “About Ben and His Thesis”

  1. Stephen Says:

    Ben I happened to come across your blog just looking for info on Durham.

    I noticed that you just finished at DTS. I too just completed my Thm and I am visiting Durham in a couple of weeks (Nov. 3 or so) to look into postgraduate research opportunities.

    I am looking to do patristics work and I wanted to say that i really enjoyed reading your blog it was very helpful.

  2. Peter Orr Says:


    I was wondering if I could email you with some questions regarding studying at Durham with Dr Barclay.

    Peter Orr

  3. manwe Says:

    let us know when more on your journey to orthodoxy. most who look into it in any degree, end up converting.

    I like your thoughts though.

  4. David Says:


    I’m fascinated with this topic of Paul and theosis, and have done some work on it myself (though solely from an exegetical approach, instead of a history-of-interpretations approach). Currently I’m looking to do so more research on the topic, and am wondering if you know of scholars in England or America who are working on deification (as it relates to the NT or otherwise)?

    Many thanks!

    Emory U

  5. Ben Says:

    David, I believe Mike Gorman just recently passed on your email address to me. I’ve been a little out of things with prep for my Berlin trip, and my wife’s grandparents just arrived today. So glad you’ve made contact. It seems like an area rich for more study that should have implications not just on exegesis but ecumenical discussions.
    Off the top of my head, I can only think of Mike Gorman (at St. Mary’s) and Stephen Finlan (at Drew) that have done or are planning anything exegesis focused. I suppose you could tentatively add John Barclay (here at Durham) since he has seemed pretty receptive to this area of study with me. As far as protestants go, most seem (at this point) to be looking at it more from a systematics point of view, as I’m sure you’re aware, but I haven’t really looked at that side of it too much.

  6. mark mathews Says:

    I was quite pleased to find your blog as my family and I are moving to Durham in September! I just finished my Th.M at DTS and will be studying with Loren Stuckenbruck. The information you have provided is great! This is very helpful for anyone moving to the UK. Hopefully we will be able to meet up when we arrive. BTW, when did you graduate from DTS?
    Mark Mathews

  7. Ben Says:

    Cool. Looking forward to meeting y’all. I graduated in 2003.

  8. Daniel Kirk Says:

    It’s dated and too much Reformed introspective, but you should look at Richard B. Gaffin’s, Resurrection and Redemption, in which you will find an articulation not unlike your own.

  9. Ben Says:

    I thought his By Faith Not By Sight was also right down my alley, but as lectures it didn’t provide any footnotes to give a broader interaction than Vos and Ridderbos. So I’ll check it out.

  10. Paul Johnston Says:

    I really appreciated your “My Thesis” description. I am very interested in the your questions about union with Christ/theosis. I come from an USA Evangelical background and feel than my background has not helped me focus on the goal of salvation, since it is stuck at the door into salvation – justification by faith.

    I have read some E. Orthodoxy literature, after visiting Romania several times and realizing that I knew next to nothing about them, but am just starting. I have read a lot in the New Paul Perspective field but have not found many who deal with Union with Christ in depth, other than Lewis Smedes. Do you have reading list suggestions on E. Orthodox and Evangelical/Protestant authors who are writing in this area?

  11. Ben Says:

    Hey Paul,

    You probably already know but Vladmir Lossky is a classic in this area. John Meyendorf is always good too. On the protestant side, Stephen Finlan has been doing some work on theosis, particularly on the biblical studies side. Veli-Matti Karkainen (sp?) also gives a decent introduction in his One with God book from a systematic point of view, and he wants to view justification as a larger category. I also think that justification has a lot more to do with new life and resurrection than protestants give weight to, and it doesn’t need to be separated from more participationist categories.

    I’ve got my head buried in Irenaeus right now, and I’m sure there are more good works out there. If you find some you like, definitely pass the titles along to me.


  12. Paul Johnston Says:

    Thanks for the reply.
    I have seen references to the E.O. authors you mentioned. I will check them out. I have read a lot of Ware and some Meyendorf. Colin Gunton is one author who is trying to combine the best of the E. Fathers and the best of Calvin. I like Colin’s writings.

    I intend to look at John Zizioulas’s work, “Being as Communion” and “Communion and Otherness”. Have you looked at his work?

    I have started reading your other postings and will follow your references to other authors. Thanks for sharing your journey.
    …paul j

  13. Can you direct me to where there is a nice picture of Prof. C.K. Barrett on the internet …. or even email one to me, if you have such.
    Many thanks indeed,

    (Dr.) Patrick Rogers

  14. Curtis Froisland Says:

    I came across your blog “What I Wish I Did To Prepare For PhD Studies” and found it helpful as I look ahead to starting doctoral studies. I’ll graduate from Asbury Seminary this spring with an MA in Theological Stuides and am praying that Duke or Notre Dame will accept me for 2009. I’ll be taking the year between “off,” using that time to (as you suggest) learn/enhance my language skills.

    On the matter of your thesis, you’re certainly right about the protestant emphasis on justification. I, however, come from the Wesleyan tradition with its special emphasis on holiness/sanctification. Wesley was influenced by the Eastern tradition to a large extent, so you are in good company examining theosis within the Pauline framework of salvation.

    I’m particularly interested in how one’s (or a group’s) Christology influences their understanding of holiness. Without going on much further-I’m thinking about how Adam-Christology (the humanity of Christ) effects the way we think about our lives here and now? Is a “high” Christology necessary for us to emphasize sanctification (even entire)? Has the high Christology that dominates American evangelicals caused a disconnect between the awakening of our humanity in light of Jesus-the True Man?

    All the best

  15. I entered the word “Paulinist” into a search and your page was one of the links that came up. I’m not really sure why I clicked on your link, but after reading a little, I have a few thoughts.
    (1) I think you have it, as my grandfather used to say, basackwards. I should be a belief (in) Christ (with)Paul. Not the other way around.
    (2) I’m not really sure why you went to England, to further your academic degree or to try to understand what the apostle Paul was really teaching in his letters.
    (3) If the latter was the reason, you went in the wrong direction. To get the most accurate teaching of what Paul wrote you should have gone to California and studied under my teacher Dr. Gene Scott. Probably the most prolific expositor of GOD’s word and Paul’s writting since Paul himself, and I dare you to prove me wrong. It can’t be done. Go to or his widows’ website. You can still get the teaching even in England.
    By the way, the website above is my blog, not necessarily religious oreinted, but after you hear some of his teaching, you can recognize his influence in some of it. Best wishes in your studies. And, don’t worry, I wont bother you againl


  16. Ben,

    I am a recent MDiv. graduate from Baylor University and studied under Daniel Williams for Patristics. This fall I will be attending the University of Nottingham to study under John Milbank and Mary Cunningham. My doctoral thesis will be on Grace, Theosis, and Ethics in the Metaphysics of Maximus Confessor. Your work on Paul is definitely something I am planning to investigate for my thesis. There will be a section on the New Testament background that will deal with your topic. I would really like to be in touch with you to discuss your work. Also, is there a way to get a copy of your ThM. thesis? It has not come up in my dissertation searches.


  17. Tony Says:


    Thanks for all the info on Durham. Very helpful. I graduated from Denver Seminary two years ago and am heading to Durham in the fall. I’ll be in the philosophy department and was wondering if you knew any students there.


  18. Ben Says:

    Hey Tony, Unfortunately, I’ve only briefly met a couple of people doing philosophy. But, I’d be happy to claim you as the first! Give me a shout out when you get over. We’d love to have you over for dinner.

  19. Tony Says:

    Will do, thanks Ben.

  20. Fr Pavel Says:

    Dear Ben,

    Good luck with your thesis. I am a Bulgarian cleric and lecturer and I am looking for visiting theology fellowships in the UK or US. Are you aware of any? Please respond via my e-mail. Thank you in advance.

    In Christ,
    Fr Pavel

  21. Jon Says:

    Dear Ben,

    I have just finished an MA in art history in the States and am now applying to MA/PhD philosophy programs with the intent to start in Fall of ’09. Your website has been so helpful in making this decision. There were some who discouraged the idea of going abroad for postgrad work, but I have been lucky to find people like you and others who are very encouraging. Thanks

  22. Angie Says:

    hi Ben,

    i was so excited to see your blog after Carrie Myers sent me a link! i’ll be starting at durham in the fall, studying with Walter Moberly. thanks so much for the wealth of information… you’ve been quite a help and answered many a question for me.

    so kinda a crazy connection– i’m from texas but grew up going to arkadelphia a couple of times a year, as it’s my mom’s hometown.

    i’ll look forward to meeting you and your family this fall! grace and peace, angie

  23. Ben Says:

    Definitely a small world. Give us a shout out when you get over, we’d love to meet you in person.


  24. David Says:

    Hi Ben,
    I posted and sent you an essay some time ago. Could you update me on how your thesis is going? I’m applying for the 3 magic letters (phd) this fall, looking to do some more work on paul and theosis. I really don’t want to overlap your work. Getting a better idea of the current state of your research/thesis (please, if you would, be as specific as you can) will immensely help me formulate my research proposal.

    A thousand thanks!

  25. Ben Says:

    David, I sent an email with my outline to date. Definitely give me a shout out if you want more detail.

  26. Dave Says:

    Hi Ben,

    Is having a PHD from an English university, looked upon favorably in the US?

    I am thinking of moving to the US, and I am not sure whether to pursue doctoral studies here in the or in the US.

  27. Ben Says:

    Hey Dave. There’s a few posts about this on this here: US vs UK.

  28. Dan Says:

    Ben, thanks for the description. I hope it is going well. Is there a key passage in Ireneas addressing the concept that I could look up? Does Christosis relate to the idea of Christ in us or through us ministering to others and worshiping etc.?
    Student, Northeastern Seminary, NY

  29. Ben Says:

    Sorry for just responding…The three easy places for deification language is where Irenaeus calls believers ‘gods’ based on Ps 82.6: AH 3.6.1-3; 3.19.1-2; 4.Pr.4-4.1.1; 4.38.1-4; 4.39.1-3.

    On the Christosis bit, I think its a comprehensive label that covers a lot of stuff. Currently, I’ve not formulated the best explanation of it since I’ve only just written on Rom 8.

  30. Paul Says:


    I am trying to decide whether to do ministerial training in the UK or in the US. I have taken some online classes through DTS toward a ThM, but as I’m living in Europe right now, I investigated UK programs, and have been offered a spot in the BTh course through Wycliffe Hall at Oxford.

    I understand you are pursuing a PhD, but could you offer any suggestions about the value of a MDiv in the US vs. a BTh from Oxford for ministry training?

    Thanks Ben… you can contact me via email or comment

  31. Ben Says:

    Paul, I have a good friend, Justin Hardin, who just started lecturing at Wycliffe Hall. He did an MDiv in the states so he would be the best source for comparisons. I’ll email you his email address.


  32. Geoff W Says:

    In the reformed tradition, are you aware of Lewis Smedes Union With Christ (1983), originally published as All Things Made New (1970), both Eerdmans, though I don’t recall that he engaged with Orthodox thought.

  33. Ben Says:

    I’ve had it on my list to read but haven’t gotten around to it. Thanks for the reminder.

  34. Death Bredon Says:

    Just as Christotokos is problem a more precise term than Theotokos (but was rejected due to the false spin that Nestorius purportedly put on it), so to with Christosis.

    Precisely speaking, I think, we want to become Sons of God (Christs) by the [power of the] Holy Ghost so that we participate in the Life of the Father. So again, theosis, properly qualified and nuance, captures the full Trinitarian aspect of salvation and hence will probably remain the term of art for systematic theology, even though St Paul’s (and the BCP’s) employment of “in Christ,” is relatively more understandable for typical laity.

    Best wishes!

  35. Ben Says:

    Yes, that is the problem with christosis. After doing my work on Cyril of Alexandria, I became more hesitant to use christosis because of the Christotokos/Theotokos debate. But playing the academic game, I see my role as trying to clarify Paul’s particular emphasis. I don’t see christosis and theosis as in distinction to one another (as I fall on the Hengel/Hurtado early development of Christology) but emphasising different aspects. Paul is surely trinitarian in his language, but when it comes to human soteriology the form (εἰκων)it takes is that of Christ.

  36. Myk Habets Says:

    Hi Ben,

    I have just published a work entitled ‘Theosis in the Theology of Thomas Torrance (Ashgate). WHile it is clearly systematic theology I do have a section on justification as declaration and deification, and I also try to build a case for a distinctly western doctrine of theosis, specifically a Reformed view. Check it out, it may be of some use. I also contributed to Stephen Finlan’s volume on theosis and have other articles out on the topic, all working in systematic theology. I look forward to reading more of your findings as you go. Blessings,

    1. Ben Says:

      Hi Myk,

      I have enjoyed your other work so I’m looking forward to reading the TFT one. In fact our library just got it, so I should get peruse it soon!


      1. Myk Habets Says:

        Great! If you do get round to reading it let me know what you think – good or bad 🙂


  37. Zurab Says:

    Hi Ben,

    I am from Georgia (I mean country, not a state of USA). I am already one month in Durham for my MA in the history of theology, my supervisor is Fr. Andrew Louth. I read about your thesis with great interest, since it is also related to my topic of research, my topic is about relationships between theologia and oikonomia according to Gregory of Nazianzus and Cyril of Alexsandria. Could I ask you some questions?

    1. Ben Says:

      Yep, I’ll shoot you an email.

  38. Scott Duvall Says:

    Hey Ben,

    I’ve been in Cambridge for a few weeks (Tyndale House) and will return to the states in a few days. So Romans 8 (Holy Spirit) is the key to understanding Rom 3-5 (justification) and Rom 6 (participation)? You were listening in class 🙂 No doubt a massive oversimplification but sounds great to me. Best to you and Heather!

    1. Ben Says:

      Hey Scott. Yeah, I’m a big fan of Rom 8 and now 2 Cor 3-5 which are the two core passages I address, with a little on Gal 3-4, 1 Cor 15, and Phil 2-3. Sorry I missed you while you were over. Hope it was a good trip.


  39. Ben,
    A number of the Durham NT Seminars had audio files posted in the Durham website through someone names Kevin Bywater. The pages are no longer there and I was wondering if they had moved to the files to another place or if those audio were still available?


    1. Ben Says:

      Kevin’s moved down to Oxford and I don’t think he keeps up his blog/website much anymore. I’m not sure any other route to get the audio except through him since he’s the one who recorded them. He’s definitely a nice guy, so I wouldn’t hesitate to email him.

  40. Stephen Cooper Says:

    Hi Ben,

    Appreciate your website — I can recommend it to my students — but do please proofread your website and remove the abomination of an apostrophe in “it’s” when you intend the possessive adjective “its” (like “his” and “her”) and not the contraction.

    Thus you wrote: “… to go to DTS for it’s biblical language programs…”

    1. Ben Says:

      Its a pleasure to hear from you. Thanks for your comment.

  41. don woolley Says:

    Ben, I really appreciate your time at the SBL meeting. Durham sounds like a wonderful place and it is awesome that you get to work with Wright. I would love to pick his brain about the problems of the institutional church as he sees it.

    I just read the biographical info above. I am from near Monticello, AR – a tiny place called Woodlawn (on the way to Pine Bluff). My friend Brandi Byrd Womack works at Ouachita I think. And my college roommate’s dad is a chemistry professor at Henderson – Dr. Palmer. I graduated from the University of Arkansas in Chemical Engineering. Small world – cliche but true.

    Thanks again for your graciousness at the Conference. I enjoyed talking with you.

    don woolley

    1. Ben Says:

      Hey Don, It is a small world. Brandi was working with the BSU when my wife and I were volunteering with the Monticello Children’s Home, so we became good friends. She was even in our wedding.

      1. don woolley Says:

        That is crazy. My family grew up with hers. Brandi’s older sister Christy was in my class 1st through 12th, and my first crush (3rd grade)…Brandi was 2 days younger than my sister and her little brother Rusty was in my little brother’s class. I keep up with them and their mom via facebook. Great family.

  42. Michael Says:

    Very interesting stuff! (I realize this reply is a bit belated, but I googled “theosis” and “Paul’s soteriology” on the blogger search-engine and found this).

    But if you will…

    You argue that ‘theosis’ could perhaps be the “missing key to understand Paul’s participation language” (aka Pauline soteriology in ‘Christos’). As many scholars (Wright, Dunn) have tried to emphasize first-century Paul rather than medieval or 21st century “Paul”, they have deftly argued that Paul had in fact been thoroughly steeped in tradition and Scripture, instead of glibly marginalizing it…

    That said, it seems that Paul’s participation soteriology must have been buttressed by the primal Genesis 1 creational mandate, which said that creation was not just good, but “very good”. And, as Middleton has argued in The Liberating Image: Imago Dei (life altering book!), humans have a royal-functional agency to cultivate and rule over the earth as image-bearing agents of the Creator/Artisan God. And even after sin’s early arrival on the scene, we nevertheless have retained such a stalwart image; trade and culture prevail in the immediate aftermath, and the Imago Dei is repeated or reemphasized again in Gen. 5.1

    And then there is Paul’s participating soteriolgoy: (paraphrasing) we are to be “conformed in the image of the Son” [Romans 8.29]… and that conforming process is something that Paul is confident in; that such a “good work” will be completed when Christ is fully unveiled [Philippians 1.3 ]

    Anyway, good stuff — I found the brief synopsis of your working thesis to be very much helpful.

    I hope your studies are coming along..


  43. Michael Says:

    Er — I also wanted to ask you a quick question:

    If I was to try and further my understanding of ‘theosis’ from the historical/ecumenical tradition of E. Orthodox, what (introductory) book would you recommend?

  44. Josh Carroll Says:

    Hey Ben,
    I see that you lived in Arkadelphia. Did you attend church there? My father in law was a pastor there for a while at a Baptist church. I am in my third year at Talbot School of Theology and looking to do PhD work in then next couple of years. Maybe looking at overseas options. I appreciate your blogging perspective. Keep it up!

    1. Ben Says:

      We went to Park Hill with Blake McKinney. Hope it works out well for you. There are 3 Talbot grads here now.

  45. Andrew Cowan Says:

    Ben (Dr. Blackwell!),

    I have some questions that are probably best discussed in private. Could you send me your email address? Thanks.

    1. Ben Says:

      I just sent you an email.


  46. Ryan Says:


    You and I met in New Orleans last fall. I am friends with Taylor Worley. I have been accepted to the University of Dublin. Can I get your email address to ask a few specific questions related to researching in the area, particularly related to my situation in Ireland?

    Thanks Ben,


    1. Ben Says:

      I’ll shoot you an email.


  47. jon Says:

    I’m a student at Marquette University working on my dissertation on Cyril’s soteriology. I saw that you were working on translating his commentary on Romans. How is that coming along?

    1. Ben Says:

      I didn’t end up getting the postdoc for the project, so I only got into about Rom 3. It looks like it will be a longer term thing. Sorry.


  48. Megan Walker Says:

    Ben, I just stumbled across your site by searching for “moving costs to England”. You have some great info on this site. I was curious if you were still in Durham? My parents both went to and met at Durham University, and I lived in Newcastle most of my live. Have been in Atlanta, GA for the past nearly 11 years. Finally made the decision to move back! Thanks for writing such a wonderful informative blog!

  49. Tyler Says:

    I’m working on a project on Theosis in Athanasius (specifically in the Life of Antony)–would you have any suggestions for research resources?
    Btw, I really dig the blog!

    1. Ben Says:

      Great topic! I’ll give you a shout out by email. I have a friend who’s doing something similar (but different!) to you, who can give more help than me.


  50. Dan Batovici Says:

    This is just to say I added you to our blogroll. Nice blog you have here!

    1. Dan Batovici Says:

      By some beginner’s mistake, my name links to a deleted blog. Here is the right one:

  51. Dustin Flores Says:


    I am an undergraduate student at Huntington University. I am working on an independent study on Gregory of Nyssa’s view of salvation. I was referred to you by my professor Dr. Kent Eilers who was referred to you by Michael Gorman. I was told that you may have some good sources to look at to help with my research. I would greatly appreciate your help if you have time. Thanks.

    1. Ben Says:

      Hey Dustin, Happy to help. I’ll shoot you an email. Ben

  52. tom steed Says:


    I have been preaching for 25 years now and have an abiding passion for theology. For the past 5 years I have been doing much reading and reflection on the notion of theosis and have found it be a fascinating and life transforming reality.

    I noticed Michael Gorman’s high praise for your paper presented at SBL and was drawn to your blog because of it. I look forward to learning more about the fruits of your research on the subject.

    Any chance that we could have a look at your paper? I know you plan to edit it for publication but your the first person I’ve come across who has seen the powerful implications of theosis from Col. 2:9-10 and would love to learn more.

    Many thanks for sharing your thoughts with us

  53. Austin Says:


    I am finishing up my mdiv at Asbury. I’d like to read for my PhD at Durham in theology, but I am also dedicated to parish ministry here in the states. What’s your opinion on the p/t distance PhD program? Would that be marketable? I wouldn’t mind getting bumped to the MA research degree. Thanks, I can give you more information about my plans if asked.


    1. Ben Says:

      Hi Austin, I don’t think it’s a bad option to keep doing ministry while doing the PhD, as far as future prospects go. If you are interested in teaching in a confessional university setting then ordination/pastoral experience goes over well. The offsetting issue is the difficulty of doing both at the same time. All my friends who have gone this route have noted the difficulties in balancing life, work, family, and studies. But if you can get the church to really give at least a day a week (preferably 1.5 or 2 days) then it’s doable. Give me a shout out if you want more details on Durham.

  54. Ben Burch Says:


    I am currently doing an MA in Biblical Studies at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego and am looking at Paul and Theosis as a base for my thesis work. I’m also looking into Duke’s MTS program after this in order to study with Campbell and Hays.

    Would you be able to point me in the right direction in order to get my hands on your dissertation? How would I do that? Your entire discussion here practically gives voice to everything I’ve been thinking and saying for the last year of working through Paul. I would love to read your work, if it’s finished.

    1. Ben Says:

      Hi Ben,
      Here’s the link to my thesis:

      Duke would be a great place to study. I’ve talked with Hays and Campbell at different times about this area of work. I think it has appeal to both of them, but for different reasons.

      I’ll also shoot you an email so you can have my address.


  55. pamela Says:

    Hi Ben,

    My husband and I are moving to Durham this summer. He is doing his PhD and I am currently searching for a job. I am an elementary art teacher in Durham, NC. Do you know of few good schools close by Durham University? I am not sure if I can be a lead teacher over there, but working in a school in any capacity would be great. It is very overwhelming not knowing where to even begin! thanks

    1. Ben Says:

      Hi Pamela, My wife hunted down a listing of schools around Durham: Unfortunately, it’s not broken down by geography, but the ones with phone numbers 0191 38 are in Durham proper, and the close numbers 0191 37 and the like are close villages, though some with the national numbers 012, 013, etc. are also around.

      Also, you can find the the schools job board on the vacancies database link from here: The job market here is tighter than the US (there is also a ready supply of spouses like yourself coming over), so many have to travel outside of Durham. For instance, we have a good friend who has to commute to a school in Darlington. Some get direct jobs, but several of our teaching friends got their foot in the door by temping/supply teaching.

      My wife commented that primary teachers teach all the subjects. That is, they don’t have specialists just in art, music, etc.

      Also, here’s a list of private schools:

      Hope that helps some.

  56. Dan Says:

    Hi Ben,

    Very interested in your work! Especially cyril’s commentary on Romans.

    Please send me your email as I have a few questions.


  57. Halo Ben,

    i am fascinated with your site. Never say never except never say never to the next sentence beginning in the first person singular. I am an 81 year old married 48 years, father of 5 adult dependent children and 9 grandchildren, working on a master’s in Eastern Orthodox theology. I must admit I am stumped about the meaning of “AH” in blog # 29, to wit:

    “The three easy places for deification language is where Irenaeus calls believers ‘gods’ based on Ps 82.6: AH 3.6.1-3; 3.19.1-2; 4.Pr.4-4.1.1; 4.38.1-4; 4.39.1-3.”

    What is the meaning of AH acronym/abbreviation and what does AH stand for?

    Aside from this, I can’t believe that I have taken 3 years of my misspent life deciding on a thesis topic…and I am still not certain about one. Help…eh?

    Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me a sinner, and God bless you Ben and family,


    P.S. My preference Is to correspond by email without posting; however if need be, so be it …but to my disappointment.


    1. Ben Says:

      Good topic. AH is Against Heresies by Irenaeus.

  58. Martin Says:

    I have been researching the theology of Hilary of Poitiers and Dr. Gene Scott, PhD.
    I am particularly interested in topic of Hilary’s view of the Trinity as intepreted through Dr. Gene Scott’s theories of justification and his ideas of how humans process information under the theory of Progressive Education (Dewey). I have found that by using Deconstruction (Derrida) to undermine the influence of Progressive Education and by wedding it to Scott’s theory of Justification the concept of the Trinity displays an exalted Christ without the humiliation normally associated through His Incarnation. Hilary had a uniquely Christo-centric view of the Trinity.

    1. Sally Says:

      That is a beautiful topic.

      I find that Gadamer has a useful hermeneutic to apply to theology to rid it of its pre-modern logocentrism. The biggest problem with Hilary is that Hilary’s concept of the Trinity emobodied a hegemonic power structure between the Father and Son. The Spirit was left oppressed and voiceless – thus the need to deconstruct the metapresence of the Trinity to reveal the true Trinity. The absence of the Spirit is as meaningful as His deontological state in the traditionally oppressive hegemony between Father and Son.

      Heidegger would be a good companion for this project too.

      1. Martin Says:

        WOW! Great thoughts, Sally!

        Where did you study at?

        Have you read Levinas? He is altering so much of what I used to think was true. A Christ as seen through Levinas is one of the most awe-inspiring visions.

      2. Donovan Says:

        I’d just like to add that one HAS to encounter Levinas if you are doing this kind of work. Levinas is the apex of the Western philosophical tradition, Talmudic commentary and the fullest integration of philosophy and theology that one can find.

        One cannot understand metaphysics without understanding Levinas. Without Metaphysics, the nature and ground of our Being is compromised and obscured.

        No catechism will release you from this burden. Levinas + faith in Christ can do that, however.

      3. Ted Says:

        But what of Hegel?

        I think Hegel and his view of how God comes to self-knowledge poses one of the most profound (and least addressed) questions for theologians (or even for ATheologians in the mold of Derrida).

    2. Bethany Says:

      Fascinating topic! That is one of the most original as well as one of the most profound research projects I have seen.

      Are you planning on turning that into a thesis?

      1. Martin Says:

        Thank you for that! And yes – I would love to turn this into a thesis.

        However I have been rethinking portions of it as I have been reading numerous passages by Levinas and may have to integrate him into the mix.

      2. Donovan Says:

        By the by, my friend Dali passed along a link to this friend.

        Martin and Sally are on to something profound here. Where do you plan on posting more about this topic?

        The Western Theological tradition has been splintered since Luther and the Puritans attempted to recover it. I think that only a Christology as conceived by the likes of Heidegger, Derrida, Lacan, Zizek, Lyotard, Levinas and Badiou can properly unify this fragmentation. And kudos to Martin for noting impact of Dewey’s Progressive Education on a topic such as theology and her interpretors. Dewey’s damning educational influence has long been ignored.

      3. Leonard Says:

        Interesting thread here, folks.

        I did a search on Levinas and theology and this popped up.

        How does Levinas intepret the meta narrative provided through the supreme event of Christ? Christ is the ultimate narrative and, like in Lyotard, narratives and metaphysics can find a great re-interpretation in Levinas.

      4. Bethany Says:

        I just came across a book by Bruce Ellis Benson entitled “Graven Ideologies” that may be of great benefit to your research, Martin.

        Derrida and theology are discussed in depth and how the combo are used to break down the idols of the heart and mind. This in particular is key in constructing a solid Christology.

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