A Review of the 2012 OTSA Conference

This past weekend, theologians from across the country gathered at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (www.svots.edu) for the annual Orthodox Theological Society of America (OTSA) conference.  This was only the second I had attended.  My first had been in Chicago in 2008.  Although attendance was much lower this time around, something I noted in the business meeting, those who were there were actively engaged in presenting and discussing Orthodox Christian history and theology and each of the papers were worth listening to.  For a list of papers given, go to the site, scroll down the page a bit, and see the pdf schedule:

http://www.otsamerica.org/

As I said, each paper was intriguing but a few stood out to me because of their content and my own interests.  Dn. Nicholas Denysenko (Loyola Marymount in LA)’s paper on Ukraine was quite illuminating.  I hadn’t kept up with everything going on over there, so I found his paper quite fascinating.  I enjoyed the topic of Dn. Pavel Gavrilyuk (St. Thomas Univeristy in St. Paul, MN)’s paper as well–trends in the American academy amongst Orthodox.  My friend Fr. John Strickland (newly founded St. Katherine’s College)’s paper on “Holy Rus” as an important concept for clergy attempting to “convert” Russian nationalists in late imperial Russia was of interest as well.  Yet, there were papers that also will develop into works useful for educated parishioners.  In particular, we should keep an eye out for Dr. Edith Humphrey (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary)’s book on Scripture and Tradition.  It is forthcoming from Baker Academic Press and once it’s out, I’ll try to get it mentioned on here.  From what I can tell, I expect it to be useful for anyone who discusses the relationship between tradition and the Bible (whether with family or friends).  Also, regarding books, please check out the latest post by Adam DeVille over at Eastern Christian Books:

http://www.easternchristianbooks.blogspot.com/2012/09/extra-extra-world-scoop-on-new-orthodox.html

Adam was also at OTSA and I had several wonderful chats with the man.  He is doing great work not only reviewing Eastern Christian books, but also with his journal, LOGOS: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies.  LOGOS will soon have full text articles available on a religion database known as ATLA, which will be very helpful for graduate students and researchers but is also a sign of Eastern Christianity’s ongoing vitality, which should be good news for any of us.

Finally, I should note that the annual Florovsky lecture was given on Friday night and it was an intriguing talk by Fr. John Behr (St. Vladimir’s Seminary) concerning “theology” and reading the fathers today.  In his talk, he engaged the philosophy of Jean-Luc Marion.  I am no expert in Marion, so I’m still mulling over the paper.  Perhaps that is precisely what conferences should do, inspire ongoing thinking and reflecting!  I would say several papers did that for me this time around.

2 thoughts on “A Review of the 2012 OTSA Conference

  1. I’m happy to hear that Logos is going to be available in an online database. I’d also be interested in hearing more about Paul Gavrilyuk’s paper; I had a chance to meet him at ASEC last year. Do you remember any of the specifics from it?

    • He is a very nice person, and I actually owe him an email yet! Maybe I can get to it yet this weekend. Otherwise, I might be looking at the end of next week. I should update him.

      Anyhow, to your inquiry concerning his paper: he outlined several trends and had a handout for that. I would recommend emailing and asking for the handout. I have to confess I’ve been swamped since returning and can no longer remember them. I do remember he was upbeat (moreso than I’d be) concerning the increase of Orthodox in academia relating to religion. I am more negative, and see the market as in a serious downturn, one that affects even us Orthodox. So, I think it depends on how one chooses to look at the situation. He is right and so am I.

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