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Graduate Student Profiles

Saint Louis University’s Department of Theological Studies offers a Ph.D. in Christianity in Antiquity or Constructive Theology designed to be completed in five years. Admitted students are guaranteed at least four years of funding as graduate assistants (research and teaching), with the possibility of a fifth year of funding as an adjunct. The department also offers M.A. programs in these fields.

Our students gain valuable teaching experience in the program and are mentored by faculty to present papers at major conferences like the American Academy of Religion and publish articles in peer-reviewed academic journals. The accomplishments of our students have contributed to the department’s high rate of success placing graduates in tenure-track and full-time teaching jobs in colleges and universities.

Graduate Students

Alec Arnold, Ph.D. Candidate

Alec Arnold's research focuses on the relation between technology and a theology of personhood, communication and mediation.

Isaac Arten, Ph.D. Candidate
Isaac Arten is researching theological anthropology with the intersections of religion and economics. His dissertation is titled: "'To Remove Want and Tame this Ferocious Spirit': Property in Nineteenth-Century English Missionaries' Theological Anthropology.”

amanda berg
Amanda Berg, Ph.D. Student

Amanda Berg is interested in the development of medical care with monasticism in the 3rd and 4th centuries. She is particularly focused on early Church teachings on suffering, and she recovers those teachings to suggest ways the current healthcare system might think about defining, addressing, and treating suffering in a medical setting.

tony crescio
Tony Crescio, Ph.D. Student
Tony Crescio studies moral theology and virtue ethics. He is pursuing a project of "ressourcement" to recapture a patristic understanding of virtue ethics and apply it to a modern understanding of moral formation. Crescio is also interested in the intersection of Scripture, ethics, and sacramental theology.

laura estes
Laura Locke Estes, Ph.D. Candidate

Laura Locke Estes studies religion in late antiquity, focusing on the literature of Syriac-speaking Christian communities. She is especially interested in interactions between Christianity and nascent Islam. Her dissertation explores identity formation and literary representation of religious others in dialogue texts by considering how Christians transformed their existing contra-Jewish polemic for use in new Islamic contexts.

joseph grone
Joseph Grone, Ph.D. Student

Joseph Grone is interested in liturgical-sacramental theology and doctrinal theology of late antique Christianity. Noting their compelling interrelationship, he explores the ways in which patristic understandings of liturgy and ecclesiology are bound in notions of sanctification and deification, as well as developing expressions of Trinitarian and Christological doctrine.

david justice
David Justice, Ph.D. Student

David Justice studies liberation theology, womanist theology, and the theology of Martin Luther King Jr. Through scholarship he works to shine a light on racism and discrimination in the white American church and advocate for the reform necessary to make racial reconciliation possible. By studying theology and tactics of liberators movements and theologians, he aims to contribute to the ongoing struggle for justice equality.

charles kim jr
Charles G. Kim Jr., Ph.D. Candidate

Charles Kim focuses on early Christianity. His dissertation, "From the Orator to Piscator St. Augustine's Preaching the Humble Word in the Sermones ad Populum" will include an analysis of ancient rhetoric, a theology of preaching, and Speech Act Theory. He is concurrently working to translate commentaries on the Psalms from Origen, Arnobius, Jerome, and others for a volume with Fr. David Meconi.

stephen lawson
Stephen Lawson, Ph.D. Candidate

Stephen Lawson studies how modernity conditions developed, how those conditions influence theological work, and the substantial challenges and possibilities of theological work today. Lawson's dissertation contextualizes the life and work of Erik Peterson within the development of the Historicist tradition in German theology and its revolt by Karl Barth in the years after WWI.

Deepan Rajaratnam, Ph.D. Candidate

Deepan Rajaratnam studies the intersection of ecclesiology and pneumatology with a particular interest in the laity. Building upon a foundation laid by Yves Congar and incorporating ideas from Ormond Rush, Rajaratnam's work argues that the local church possesses its own distinct senses fidelum. In addition, he engages theological ethnography to further assess the census fidelity within local churches.

tracy russel
Tracy Russell, Ph.D. Candidate

Tracy Russell studies women and gender in early Christianity, martyrological literature, the discourse surrounding asceticism in hagiographical literature, and the intersection between Greek and Syriac hagiography in the late antique Christianity. Her dissertation focuses on the rhetoric of virginity in female martyr texts in Syriac and Greek from the fourth through seventh centuries.

craig sanders
Craig Sanders, Ph.D. Candidate

Craig Sanders studies theology of work, focusing on the central role of the Sabbath for theological anthropology and human vocation. His dissertation is titled "Resting in the Finished Work: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 2:1-3 Toward an Anthropological Telos." His research engages with key figures of Catholic Social Teaching and theology of work, such as John Paul II, M. D. Chenu, Karl Barth, and Miroslav Volf.

joshua schendel
Joshua Schendel, Ph.D. Candidate

Joshua Schindel is interested in most everything regarding historical theology and dogmatics. His particular area of research is in early medieval scholasticism and early modern reformed scholasticism.

mitchell stevens
Mitchell Stevens, Ph.D. Student

Mitchell Stevens studies 5th-8th century theologians in the eastern Roman Empire, focusing on personhood and ethical action. Principally engaging Maximus the Confessor as the self-conscious inheritor of figures such as Origen, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, Stevens strives to show how Maximus's Christianity produce a unique vision of the human person and their ethical nature.

michael trotter
Michael Trotter, Ph.D. Candidate

Michael Trotter is writing his dissertation on portrayals of the devil in early Christian literature. He is also interested in Alexandrian exegesis, Didymus the Blind, early Christrian interpretations of Job, New Testament textual criticism, and Greek papyrology.

anna williams
Anna Williams, Ph.D. Candidate

Anna Williams studies how early Christians interpreted the Bible. Her dissertation will focus on Theodore of Mopsuestia, a key representative of the Antiochene school of exegesis. She is especially interested in the reception of his biblical exegesis in Greek, Latin, and Syriac authors during and shortly after the Christological controversies.