Our PhD students conduct research in a wide variety of subject areas--to find out more about their work click on the tabs below.

Michael Straus

Thesis title: Inspiration, Text and Translation:  Paul to the Colossians as a Case Study

Research: My original fields of studies as an undergraduate at Columbia College in the City of New York were in History and Philosophy (A.B.) and I thereafter studied law at New York University School of Law (J.D.).  I practiced for some years principally in areas of international transactions.  I left off that practice to pursue theological studies, beginning at Beeson Divinity School (M. Th. S.) followed by deeper immersion in languages, first in Greek and Latin at Columbia University (M.A.) and then in Greek the University of Cambridge (M. Phil.).  With that basis, I am now a distance Ph.D. candidate in Divinity with a focus on translation theory as it might be applied to the New Testament.  I am in the initial reading and outlining stages of my thesis, testing whether different theories and/or approaches to translation are called for depending on the nature of the material, e.g., whether prose narrative, doctrinal passages or efforts to convey spiritual concepts or experiences.

Jiseung Choi

Thesis title: Post-exilic poetic literature in Yehud, and the “theology of the poor”

Research: Prior to beginning my PhD in 2015, I received a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering at the Seoul National University (South Korea), a M.Div. and Th.M. at Chongshin Seminary and University (South Korea), and a M.Th. in Biblical Studies at the University of Edinburgh. I am working with Professor Joachim Schaper on a project which how the “theology of the poor” was formed during the post-exilic period, especially in the poetic literature. My research interests include the Psalms (and its formation), the prophetic literature, and the Israelites community in the post-exilic period.

Alex Mason

Research: My research explores a Reformation-era theory of resistance to authority called the doctrine of the lesser magistrate, which was introduced in the Magdeburg Confession of 1550. This doctrine teaches that in certain scenarios when a ruler has become an incorrigible tyrant, he has abdicated his claim to legitimacy and relinquished his de jure status in exchange for that of a de facto magistrate. Consequently, the doctrine holds that those magistrates with lesser authority under the illegitimate magistrate may defy and resist him (and his unjust laws) for the sake of protecting others. By suffusing the ethical conception of political engagement with a thentofore atypical configuration of the freedom of individual conscience and a duty to resist injustice, the Confession offers us a usefully clarifying window into the West’s transition into modern democratic politics. In order to bring the doctrine into conversation with more recent political theory/theology, I am examining the socio-political and theological aspects of the Confession through a lens crafted from the biopolitical theory of philosopher Giorgio Agamben, whose homo sacer theory provides an applicable metanarrative about the abuse of political power in a fallen world. My purpose for this project is to excavate a theological/ethical understanding of submission and resistance for faithful Christian living in post-Christian societies. In a time when the ideas of resistance and revolution are discussed with increasing frequency, I hope this project will be helpful to anyone who seeks to think carefully and biblically about these issues.

Personal: I am blessed with a wife and two daughters. Prior to moving to Aberdeen, I completed an MA in Christian Ethics at Southeastern Seminary, an MDiv at Southern Seminary, and an MA in Public Policy and a ThM in Church History at Liberty University. My current research at Aberdeen is the result of a long convergence between my interests in political theory and Christian theology. In my free time, I am an amateur architectural photographer.

Anthony Stiff

Thesis title: Befriending the Invisible Stranger at the Table: Toward a Theology of Food-Related Disabilities

Research: I am working under Professor John Swinton in the area of disability theology. The research I am doing has an intersectional quality to it. It utilizes several disciplines, including: disability theory, disability theology, food theory, theology of food, and food in the Christian tradition (looking specifically at monastic practices and early reformation eucharistic theologies). As an exercise in Practical Theology my research also explores food-related practices in the Corinthian body and in congregations today.

The church in via is beset by many ism's and phobia's that obscure its true form. Among them, ableism, "the ideological hypervaluation of ableness and the ways in which such norms of abled and disabled identity are given force," (Fiona Kumari Campbell, Keywords for Disability Studies) has left a legacy that is less than hospitable within the Christian tradition toward individuals whose particular embodiment's are neither anticipated, understood, or celebrated. Nevertheless, I believe there are rich theological anthropologies and food-related practices that once heard clearly can offer wisdom for the late modern church's food-related practices.

By asking these simple questions: whose God is the God we worship and whose Jesus do we follow? (see John Swinton, "Who is the God We Worship? Theologies of Disability; Challenges and New Possibilities); and why did God create a world in which every living creature must eat? (see Norman Wirzba, Food & Faith: A Theology of Eating) we can begin to imagine what a theology of food-related disabilities looks like. And, in our practice of shared meals, we can begin to befriend the invisible strangers at our tables, and receive the gift of their friendship as well.

Personal: I have a Doctor of Ministry degree from Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI in the area of spiritual formation. My Advisor was Chuck DeGroat. My thesis title was, "Worship as Public Truth: Toward a Liturgical-Missional Ecclesiology for Evangelical Congregational Leaders." I also have a Masters of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA in the area of urban missiology. I am presently an ordained minister in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church with over eighteen years of ministry experience across the U.S.A. My family comes from Sacramento, California where I served as an Associate Pastor for the past seven and half years at a large twelve hundred person congregation. I am married to Jessica Stiff, and we have two children (Cali, nine years old; Liam, six years old). Our son Liam has a food-related disability. When Liam was one he was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune illness called Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EE). One of the symptoms of EE is that individuals can also have life-threatening allergic reactions to a variety of foods which create challenges for them to share meals with others in a number of settings, both public and sacred. Other food-related disabilities include individuals with Crohn's disease, severe forms of Celiacs, Type Two Diabetes, and according to some disability scholars anorexia and obesity. 

Matthew Mason

Research: I am working under the supervision of Professor Paul Nimmo, looking at the late John Webster’s moral theology. In particular, I am interested in how Webster’s fundamental dogmatic commitments shaped his account of the moral field within which human action takes place.

I am an ordained Anglican minister, currently serving as Rector of Christ Church Salisbury, and am a Fellow of the Center for Pastor Theologians. 

Nicholas Kearney

Research: On completing my schooling in Norwich, UK I studied French and German at St Andrews and then philosophy and theology in Innsbruck, Austria, leading to ordination as a priest of the Catholic Church in 1987.  

Returning to academia after 30 years in pastoral ministry is a challenge! Why take up the challenge? My years in pastoral ministry have shown me that for many people the Bible, particularly the Old Testament is either a closed book or a collection of fairy stories which are usually violent.

So the first part of the challenge will be to examine, under the supervision of Professor Schaper, in-depth part of the Bible—in this case Ezekiel chapter 45 which brings together themes of social justice, sacrifice and political organisation in Ezekiel’s programme for a restored Israel.

The second part of the challenge will be to use the acquired knowledge to develop adult education programmes in my own diocese of East Anglia and in conjunction with the French adult catechesis project Mess’AJE.

Benjamin Kim

Research: My research seeks to investigate Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s missional theology. Bonhoeffer is often considered as someone who did not have a formal missional theology, thus not having much to say on the matter, but was more concerned with the battle against the German Church and its harmful influences. However, this thesis seeks to show that mission was a central motivation throughout his life and thought and are constructive in shaping his ecclesiology and his ethic of obedience. 

I received an MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and an S.T.M. from Boston University School of Theology. I am a part of the Evangelical Covenant Church and have a variety of pastoral and chaplaincy experiences.

Emily Hill

Research: My PhD research is at the intersection of theology and economics with a specific focus on marketing and consumption. Among Christians who are beginning to notice a conflict between their faith and consumerism the typical response is to begin to ask how we can shop differently, provide living wages, create more transparent supply chains, or how we can budget better in order to be more generous. This is evidenced by movements such as ethical consumption, fair trade, and minimalism. These approaches, while good and important, underestimate the extent to which we are formed by the system of consumerism. In my research I will focus on marketing as a critical aspect of that formation and contend that it provides a false reality within which we operate and learn what it means to be human. From there I will draw out the reality of Christ, his contradicting logic of what it means to be human and formed in our determined reality.

I completed an M.A. in Economics at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and spent 10 years as an international marketing research consultant before getting an M.A. in Social Justice at Kilns College in Bend, Oregon. That combination of experience led me to Aberdeen to begin my PhD in Theological Ethics.

David Lilley

Thesis title: Freedom, Contentment, and Joy: The Fidelity-Producing Sabbath in Karl Barth’s Doctrine of Creation

Research: I am working under the supervision of Brian Brock and Stanley Hauerwas to describe a communal ethic of Sabbath keeping within a world that does not remember the Sabbath. Much of the Christian literature on this topic begins with human sin—either personal or corporate—and describes Sabbath as a sanctifying contrast to this problem. Karl Barth, by contrast, begins with the Creator’s covenantal rest with the creation, which leads to the covenantal association of practitioners with the vulnerable. Barth’s distinctive and insightful account of Sabbath has largely been largely absent from subsequent Sabbath literature as well as unappreciated in explorations of Barth’s theology; therefore in this paper I argue for its importance in his theology and seek to display some of its implications today.

I am a ministerial candidate in The Wesleyan Church of North America, and have served for several years primarily among young people and those who are homeless. I previously studied at Houghton College for a BA in Religion & Ministry, and Asbury Theological Seminary for a Masters of Divinity with a concentration in Church & Society. My work has largely dealt with Christian practices, ethics and scripture, and the early Anabaptist movement.

Jeffrey Gang

Thesis title: Where is the True Church? Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Dialogue with Seventh-day Adventist Ecclesiology

Research: I am working with Professor Philip Ziegler, with a focus on systematic theology and ethics. My specific area of interest is ecclesiological ethics. In my thesis I am attempting to stage an encounter between Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Seventh-day Adventist ecclesiology, employing the German theologian as an interlocutor with the denomination’s theological and ethical concepts of the ecclesia. As a life-long member of the Seventh-day Adventist church, it is hoped that my faith tradition will be enriched by a dialogue with Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s thinking about the nature of the church, particularly within the historical developments in Germany in the 1930s. 

While the entire Bonhoeffer corpus is taken into account, my project theorizes that his participation in the ongoing debates in the German church struggle, the formation of the Confessing Church, and the ecumenical movement outside Germany, provides a rich context for dialogue with Seventh-day Adventist ecclesiology because of the theological and ethical questions he is working through during this time period. Of special interest in this encounter is the German theologian and pastor’s ecumenical theology during this period of intense church polemics. 

In my research I am inquiring what these two differing theological perspectives and ecclesiastical contexts share in common. How they may differ. And where places of encounter may be located, if any may be found, especially in the discussion of ecumenics. I am asking these and similar questions within the framework of a central organizing set of questions: How do Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Seventh-day Adventists understand the nature of the longstanding Protestant question: Where is true church? And what are the implications of those findings for ecclesial-ethical responsibility? I hope to conclude my thesis by drawing out potential ways forward for Seventh-day Adventist ecclesiology in the future in view of the discoveries made in my research.

Personal:  I am an ordained Seventh-day Adventist Minister, having served congregations in my denomination over twenty years. I am currently serving on the faculty of Loma Linda University’s School of Religion as an Assistant Professor in Relational Studies, in Loma Linda California. I hold a Batchelor of Arts in Religion from Southern College (1991), a Masters of Divinity from Andrews University Theological Seminary (1995), and a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary (2006). I currently reside in Redlands, California with my wife and teenage three children. 

John Paul Marr

Thesis title: Exclusive or simply eccentric psalmody?  The Reverend Doctor Thomas Clark’s (1720-1791) 1784 pamphlet publication Plain Reasons, set within its historical, theological, and exegetical contexts may be pious presumption or just plain peculiar.  

Research: Written in Albany, New York, Clark’s Plain Reasons, why neither Dr. Watts' imitations of the Psalms, nor his other poems, ought to be used in the praises of the great God our Saviour--but, that a metre version of the book of Psalms examined with wise and critical care by pious and learned divines and found by them to be as near the Hebrew metre Psalms as the idiom of the English language would admit, ought to be used ... with a short address to ministers, and heads of families, concerning family government may be considered simply another Presbyterian example of the so-called worship war regarding the manner of expressing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs within the Christian church.  Clark, labeled “eccentric” by Southern USA Presbyterian historian George Howe (due to Clark’s fastidious upholding of exclusive psalmody) interacts in Plain Reasons with Isaac Watts’ 1719 psalter paraphrase exegetically and theologically, and finds Watts’ attempts unsatisfying spiritually as well as dangerously diminishing the profound realities of God.

Plain Reasons needs to be analyzed within its historical context of immigration and church planting, imposed oaths of office, wars for and of independence, and the Irish Presbyterian confessional subscription controversies.  It then needs to be examined for its exegetical strengths and weaknesses, particularly as handling of the Hebrew songs have improved since English bishop Robert Lowth proposed in a 1753 publication on Isaiah three categories for understanding parallelism in Hebrew poetry. Such explorations will explain why Clark was called the “father of the Associate Reformed Synod of the South” and why years later his supposed fatherhood of the ARPC denomination has been neglected and perhaps even discounted.

Madeleine Parkes

Thesis title: ‘I’m spiritual but not religious’: How do modern healthcare chaplains practically address the spiritual needs of non-religious patients, and what theological challenges do they overcome in order to do this?

Research: Traditional religious adherence in UK society declines, yet many people would still consider a spiritual dimension to life important, whether or not they believe in a God or higher power. There are also an increasing number of people who would consider themselves not spiritual at all, yet in my experience there still remains an existential struggle around hope, meaning and ‘big questions’ that need to be answered without reference to religion. This is especially true during times of crisis and ill-health.

This research is primarily concerned with moving the debate around the relationship between spirituality and healthcare forward, moving from conceptual ideas about ‘what is spirituality?’ to practical implementation of spirituality in healthcare - what does it look like in a hospital setting when delivered by chaplains? As part of this, I will be looking at the theological challenges chaplains face when they address an atheist or non-religious patient and how this impacts their approach.

I am currently working as a Spiritual Care Facilitator in the chaplaincy department of a large mental health NHS Trust in the West Midlands of England. Prior to beginning my PhD I gained my undergraduate degree in Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham and subsequently trained in clinical research at post-graduate level. I have also enjoyed additional training in counselling and psychotherapy which I find valuable to my pastoral work.

I have contributed  to the nationwide discussions on spirituality and mental health through articles and conference presentations, and have recently completed a book during my time in paediatric chaplaincy entitled Multifaith Care of Sick and Dying Children and Their Families (2014 Jessica Kingsley). My current research aims to contribute to the developing role of the chaplain in hospital who is serving an increasingly secular and diverse society.

Zachary Brigante

Thesis title: Fear Not: Redefining the Root of Sin as Fear in Light of Pychological and Pastoral Observations

Research: The hypothesis I am exploring with my thesis is this: If fear is the root of all sin, and fear is a natural or innate aspect of humanity, does that suggest that sin is also natural or innate to humanity? If so, what would that mean for Christianity today?

Observing the early attempts of Kierkegaard to psychologize an understanding of sin in the world, I intend to build from that foundation to establish the viability of fear as the root of sin through researching the works of prominent theologians such as Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Herbert McCabe.

Once a viable foundation has been laid intellectually, I will then explore the psychological nature of fear, and whether there is sufficient evidence to claim it is innate, such as the study done by Poulton and Menzies in 2002 whereupon six month old children were shown to have a statistically significant increase in startle response and magnitude when shown pictures of snakes over any other animal.

The final stage would be a thorough look at the apparent repercussions of acknowledging fear as the root of sin through examination of grass roots movements and pastoral counselling techniques which have already begun to do so. Such individuals are the Reverend Alfred L. Durrance, John and Stacey Eldridge, Jason Whitehead, in addition to various charismatic healing seminars and events.

Ultimately, I hope to show that sin, being innate to humanity, is not something that should be rejected, but rather understood, much the way that fear is understood in psychology. That is, sin should be understood as a sign or indicator of deeper issues that need to be addressed, not some form of unholy marker or indicator of God’s disfavour. If the Christian world begins to work with those who act in sin, rather than reject them, perhaps we could do better at loving our neighbours as well as God himself, because we would no longer feel distances or persecuted by Him, but rather guided as a Good Father might guide His strong willed children.

Jakub Zbrzeżny

Thesis title: The origin of existing Hebrew and Greek psalters in the light of Jewish, Christian and Muslim literary evidence read against manuscript tradition of the Bible and the Koran – a biblioclastic theory

Research: The research I am conducting deals with the role of biblioclasm in the editorial and textual history of the Jewish and Christian Bible. The canonical figures of modern biblical scholarship have long pointed out that book-burning affected or might have affected editorial and textual developments of the Hebrew and Greek Bible (e.g. Leiman (1976), Metzger (1964), Alands (1981)). Ouaknin’s acclaimed Le livre brûlé (1986) still offers literary, theological, and philosophical insights into the meaning of biblio-clasm in the very Mosaic sense of the word. Nonetheless, the topic has remained unexplored.

My investigation of biblioclasm was triggered by discovery of fragments of a hitherto unknown kai-ge version of the First Book of Maccabees. I identified these fragments in Eusebius’ Commentarii in Psalmos (MS Coislin 44) at an early stage of my doctoral studies in Aberdeen. The fragments bear chief evidence for the pivotal role the book-burning in the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes played in the formation of the Book of Psalms. My thesis is supported by historical and textual analogies I draw between this book-burning and biblioclastic events that affected, firstly, the Christian Bible in the time of Emperor Diocletian and, secondly, the Koran in the time of Caliphs Uthman and Abd al-Malik.

The methodology I am developing in work on the Book of Psalms should be applicable to other biblical books. It is the origin of the Torah in the light of biblioclasm that I intend to explore during my post-doctoral research. 

Anchored in Scotland at the University of Aberdeen and supervised by Prof. Joachim Schaper, I have been also privileged to conduct several research or study visits abroad. Thus, I have benefited from libraries and scholarship at the University of Oxford, University of Tübingen, and the Institut Catholique de Paris. Still, the institution that has formed me as a researcher is the College of Interdepartmental Individual Studies in the Humanities at the University of Warsaw.

Alan Macgregor

Thesis title: Word for Today: Preaching in a Hypertext World

Research: Preaching today in the Reformed Church is in crisis. Many people, both among ministers and congregations, have lost confidence in the suitability of the Reformed Church’s historical tool of communication and mission - the sermon - to address that crisis.

A refocus on the medium and genre of the sermon is required if we are even to begin to resolve this crisis of confidence. We need to derive a way of helping our preachers recover a consciously oral mindset for effective sermon composition and delivery.

That is what my research endeavour seeks to do. Building on the developing disciplines of Performance Criticism and Discourse Analysis in Biblical Studies, it will seek to apply the insights of these approaches to develop a homiletical approach, as an oral synthesis of biblical exegesis, composition and performance.

This research will provide a starting point to devise a useful homiletical toolset based on an understanding of the essentially oral nature of the sermon and its delivery.

Personal: I was ordained into the Church of Scotland ministry in 1992 and have spent the years since then in full-time parish ministry. Currently I am minister at Marnoch Parish Church in Buchan Presbytery.

Sheila Cameron

Thesis title: Disability, Embodiment and the Life of the World to Come: Eschatological Issues and Future Hope for People with Disabilities

Research:  My doctoral studies with Michael Mawson continue an interest in the theology of disability that was the area of my MLitt dissertation (St Andrews, 2015).  While much has been written about disability with regard to ethics, theological anthropology, graced community, spirituality, inclusive worship and access to sacraments, I am exploring an area where less work has been done, namely eschatology, and considering how we can proclaim meaningfully the Christian hope of eternal life in the context of profound physical and intellectual disabilities. My thesis will explore historical and contemporary interpretations of the doctrine of bodily resurrection and its relation to the immortality of the soul and present critiques from a disability viewpoint, and will then offer a new approach based on recent studies in theological anthropology and the theology of embodiment, with insights from feminist theology and disability studies.

I completed an MA in Pastoral Theology as part of ministry training (Anglia Ruskin, 2006).  I have worked as an Anglican Priest in the Dioceses of Ely, Edinburgh and Newcastle, and prior to ordination worked for various research libraries including the British Library, the National Library of Scotland and Cambridge University Library. During my time in Cambridge I served as a member of the Chaplaincy to University Staff as well as a parish curate. I have worked with L’Arche Edinburgh as a live-in assistant and spiritual accompanier and have also trained as a director in the Ignatian tradition. 

Steve Hickey

Thesis title: Tolstoy’s Interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount

Research: Tolstoy is remembered as a great writer, but his religious and philosophical works are by and large unknown or disparaged, even in Tolstoyan scholarly circles. It remains his contribution is substantially under-appreciated and misunderstood. My project seeks to capture the particulars and dynamics of Tolstoy’s interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount from a deliberately sympathetic vantage point. Underlying this project is shared belief with Tolstoy that the Sermon on the Mount is liveable and to be lived. This project assumes that from the vantage point of traditional orthodoxy Tolstoy got much wrong but what is lacking is any consideration of what he got right, radical obedience to the teachings of Jesus. Tolstoy’s take on the Sermon on the Mount stands apart in the history of Sermon on the Mount interpretation and has had enormous influence on others and other countries. Yet, often Gandhi gets the glory, or others.  Tolstoy’s interpretive adversaries and allies are given voice with the intention of better comprehending his interpretations and their perceived implications and failings. Conclusions are drawn which point toward Tolstoy’s contribution to a movement Christendom has yet to ever see, an obedience movement.  

In 1994 I got an M.Div from North Park Theological Seminary. I'm now considered Pastor Emeritus at the church I founded and pastored for a couple decades in South Dakota. Three times I was elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives and twice lead a death penalty repeal effort, and helped lead a couple statewide abortion ban attempts. I was co-chair of South Dakotans for Responsible Lending which successfully drove the loan sharks out of our state who were exploiting the poor and the elderly through high-interest loans. I’ve written some books including "Obtainable Expectations: Timely Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount." Originally from Kansas City. Married to Kristen. Have three adult kids; Caleb (Alaina) in Kansas City, Thomas (Melody) in Kentucky and Kaitlyn who just finished a masters in Post-Conflict Justice and Peace Processes here at the University of Aberdeen.

Kaitlyn Dugan

Thesis title: Toward an Apocalyptic Theology of the Cross

Research: My doctoral research focuses upon the implications of Pauline New Testament apocalyptic studies for the task of systematic theology. My thesis primarily engages New Testament scholars including but not limited to Ernst Käsemann, J. Louis Martyn, Martinus de Boer, and Beverly Roberts Gaventa and seeks to probe their convictions concerning the central role of the cross in God’s conflict with the anti-God powers of Sin and Death. I’m primarily interested in the shape that an apocalyptic soteriology might take specifically in relation to questions of power and how apocalyptic theology uniquely contributes to theories of God’s redemptive activity in and for the world.

Personal: Kaitlyn is the Curator of the Barth Collection for the Center for Barth Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary. Her work involves both maintaining and developing Princeton Seminary’s Barth Research Collection along with managing the daily programs and operations of the Barth Center. She earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in philosophy and political science from Taylor University, a Masters of Arts in theology from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. She is also a member of St. James Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Harlem, New York City.

Michael Morelli

Research: My PhD research focuses on a rarely discussed phenomena which relates to the Internet, digital technologies, and what they mean for local churches and disciples of Jesus. Formulating this phenomena and its ancillary theological-ethical implications into a question, I want to ask and answer through research and theological reflection: discussions about the presentation of violence on the Internet are regularly invoked, but what about the violence of the Internet? The way in which the Internet and digital technologies enable and exaggerate violence in an increasingly globalised and technological world imply that followers of Jesus ought to think critically about this reality and respond with perspectives and actions that promote a theological ethic of technological nonviolence. I research and work to develop such a theological ethic.

Personal: I have begun PhD research under Brian Brock after completing an MTh in Theological Ethics here at University of Aberdeen. Prior to attending Aberdeen, I received a Master of Arts in Christian Studies at ACTS Seminary, Trinity Western University and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Communications at Simon Fraser University—both situated in Vancouver, Canada. I have also served as a worship arts pastor and communications/media coordinator in local church ministries, and when time permits, I work as a freelance writer for print and online publications.

Ross Halbach

Thesis title: Preparing the Way: Whiteness, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Contemporary Theological Discourses on Race

Research: My thesis explores how whiteness impacts the daily life of the Christian church and how the doxological life of the Christian church is crucial for addressing the enclosure of whiteness.  In examining the enclosure of whiteness, I bring recent theological discourses on race in conversation with Bonhoeffer’s theological ethic of preparing the way.

Before coming to Aberdeen, I completed an M.Div at Multnomah University (2010), and a Th.M at Western Seminary (2014) both in Portland, Oregon.  

Michael Langston

Dr. Langston was born in Birmingham, Alabama. He attended the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, Louisiana on an athletic scholarship in Football. In 1975 he entered the USMC’s PLC Officer Commissioning program. He graduated from UL with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree in Education in 1977 and was subsequently commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the United States Marine Corps. Capt. Langston resigned his regular active duty commission and accepted a reserve commission subsequently, serving Marine Corps Reserve units in Raleigh, NC and Greenville, SC. Dr. Langston entered Seminary and graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity Degree (M.Div.) in Theology and Pastoral Care.

He has an earned Doctorate (D. Min.) from Bethel Theological Seminary (1996), Saint Paul, MN with a concentration in Military Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care. In 2003 he graduated from the Naval War College, Newport, RI, earning a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. Dr. Langston has additionally earned the Navy designator Master Training Specialist for Naval Education. Additionally, he completed the Marine Corps Command and Staff JPME Seminar course at Camp Lejeune, NC. He is presently enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland. Dissertation thesis title, “Exploring the Practical Significance of Evangelical Theology on Evangelical Military Chaplains Praxis of Chaplaincy: A Grounded Theory Approach.”

Dr. Langston joined the faculty of CIU’s Seminary & School of Ministry in 2011 and has built the Chaplaincy program and taught Chaplain Ministries from that date until the present. Dr. Langton has served as a Law Enforcement Chaplain, Healthcare Chaplain and Military Chaplain in the United States Navy. He is also a graduate of the Naval War College. He is ordained and endorsed through the Southern Baptist Convention. He is married to the former Kathy Lee Jones PhD, of Greenville, SC. They have been married for 29 years and have three grown children. They reside in Blythewood, SC.

Daniel Mcdowell

Thesis title: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the theology of Friedrich Schleiermacher and Karl Barth

Research: My doctoral work, taken under Professor Paul Nimmo, is a focused comparative analysis of Schleiermacher and Barth's pneumatologies as set forth primarily in Christian Faith and the Church Dogmatics with a constructive aspect that attempts to come to a more complete doctrine of the Holy Spirit for the church, and the Reformed tradition in particular. The comparative aspect will use several sub-themes of pneumatology as a heuristic lens with which both pneumatologies can be compared, defended, and ultimately drawn together.

The constructive aspect of the research would seek to address the problem of subjectivity for the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. This flows naturally out of the comparative aspect of the research, as the problem of subjectivity, and turning theology into anthropology, lies at the very heart of Barth’s criticism and rejection of Schleiermacher, and is also perhaps the key problem for pneumatology in general.

Personal: Daniel is an ordained ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently serving on session at historic First Presbyterian Church “Old South” in Newburyport MA. He is also under care of the Presbytery of Northern New England as he pursues pastoral ordination. He was educated at Central Washington University (B.A., history), and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.A., Theology; MDiv.; ThM, Theology), where he also worked as a Byington Scholar and the Semlink Theology Teaching Fellow. He and his wife have two children and reside on the North Shore of Boston.  

David McNeish

Thesis title: Celebration and Lament: towards a practical theology that embraces the fullness of life

Research: Celebration and lament are important dimensions of human existence and yet we rarely reflect directly on how to acquire the skills and habits necessary to navigate through the intensity of tragedy and delight.  Western culture often constructs a dualism between celebration (as purely joyful) and lament (as purely sorrowful), yet these experiences can frequently overlap and blend together.

This project aims to explore the interrelationships between celebration and lament, and whether a better understanding of these relationships can encourage the acquisition and practice of skills that enable healthy celebration and lament.  Working with Prof. Chris Brittain I am combining my part time doctorate with parish ministry in the West Mainland of Orkney.

Prior to my BD (Edinburgh, 2010) I worked as a parliamentary campaigner with Citizens Advice Scotland, a church musician and a hospital doctor.  I also have degrees in Psychology (Edinburgh, 1997) and Medicine (Edinburgh, 1999) but have recovered well from these experiences.

Tyler Frick

Thesis title: The Teleologically Ordered Being of God: Reconsidering the Divine Attributes in the Theology of Karl Barth in Light of His Mature Doctrine of Election and Later Christology

Research: My dissertation attempts to revise Barth’s treatment of the divine perfections in CD II/1 on the basis of his reconstruction of election in CD II/2 as well as his later Christology set forth in CD IV.  In this project I attempt to take Barth’s novel claim that Jesus is the ‘subject of election’ and describe what a doctrine of the divine perfections looks like if the logic resident therein is fully and consistently applied.

I earned my BA in Biblical Literature at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington and my MA in Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary California in Escondido, California.

Allen Calhoun

Thesis title: A History of Taxation in Christian Theological Thought

Research: Under the supervision of Brian Brock, and of Andrew Simpson of the University of Aberdeen Law faculty, my research seeks to excavate the narrative of the law of taxation as it has developed in the Christian tradition, examining particularly what tax is, and what it is for, through the history of Christian theology. My project responds to the fact that, in today’s western democracies, the policy and practice of taxation are running in a disjointed way. Liberal philosophy from Kant to Rawls has done little to guide the law of taxation, and current Christian political theologies and theories of law are ambiguously helpful. In practice, taxation is adjunct to the main purpose of legal systems: to maximize wealth. Thus, a further purpose of my study is to determine how and when in intellectual political history the western nation-state ceded ultimate decision-making authority to economic policy, and to determine how and when distributive justice was formalized and became connected to the practice of taxation.

I completed an M.A. in exegetical theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in the USA, before going to law school and working as an attorney and then a legal editor for a number of years. Returning to the study of theology, I received an M.Th. degree in theological ethics from the University of Aberdeen in 2015 and subsequently began work on the Ph.D.

Sheila Akomiah

Thesis title: Church Growth in an Age of Decline? New Churches in Glasgow 2000 – 2015

Research: Although Christianity in Scottish and British society as a whole, has experienced decades of decline, recent evidence from some regions across the country, suggest news of renewed vibrancy, change and even growth in church attendance and membership.

This project seeks to highlight any recent changes in the Scottish Christian landscape in relation to the above, by focusing on new church growth in the last 15 years. To achieve this, I will be 'counting' the number of new churches (new Christian congregations  started from scratch) established in the city of Glasgow between 2000 - 2015 and following them up using several methods, to determine if they are growing, and to also learn their demographic compositions.

As an end result of the project, I hope to draw attention – both academic and otherwise, to the fact that church growth may be occurring alongside decline, thus inspiring hope and encouraging more research.

Markus Nikkanen

Thesis title: Participation in Christ in Paul and Early Eucharistic Traditions

Research: My research is focused on the origin of the Pauline concept of participation in Christ. I argue that Paul’s participatory theology is connected with antecedent Eucharistic traditions and is Jewish in character. 

I am ordained in the Evangelical Free Church of Finland (2005-) and have spent most of my adult life serving the church in Finland. I received my Masters degree from North Park Theological Seminary, Chicago (2013). I started my PhD research at the University of St Andrews (2014) but transferred to the University of Aberdeen (2015) with my supervisor, Professor Grant Macaskill.

Christopher Schutte

Thesis title: Evangelical Episcopalians and their debates over women’s ordination and abortion in the 1970s

Research: I’m looking at how self-described Evangelicals within the Episcopal Church (TEC) discussed both women’s ordination and abortion in the 1970s. The Evangelicals were a beleaguered minority within the ranks of TEC, almost always at odd with the theological and political developments within TEC during the tumultuous period between 1964 and 1979. I’m drawing the doctrinal and hermeneutical frameworks among Evangelical Episcopalians, as well as their interface with both non-Episcopal evangelicals and the nascent Charismatic renewal movement.

I’m an Anglican priest in Phoenix, AZ, with a BA in History and Classics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ, USA, and an MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, MA, USA.

Aleksandar Apostolovski

Thesis title: Slaughterhouse J: Metafiction and the Book of Jeremiah

Research: We live in an age which is characterized by growing biblical illiteracy. While there is no doubt that the causes of this problem are complex, my teaching experience has shown that lack of creative avenues of approaching the biblical text for the benefit of those who have never encountered it is one of them. To that effect, I propose to draw upon my long-standing interest in the Book of Jeremiah and its multiple references to reading, writing and written materials. I intend to argue that dialogue with the theory of meta-fiction, with its interest in stories about story-telling, as well as stories about the reading and writing of written compositions,  will shed new light on the role of characters, the purpose of a jumbled chronology, the function of reading and other key issues in Jeremiah studies. I also hope that this model of dialogue will be beneficial to anyone who seeks to engage a biblically-illiterate society, be that in the church or the academy.

Prior to coming to Aberdeen, I earned both a first degree in Theology and a Master’s degree in Old Testament Studies from the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia. In subsequent years I have had ample opportunities to teach undergraduates, partake in several international research projects, publish some of my findings and serve the church in various lay capacities. In addition to the Book of Jeremiah, my research interests include the prophetic literature of the Old Testament, the roles of reading and writing in antiquity and contemporary culture, the depiction of biblical themes and motifs in contemporary literature, cinema and theatre, creative approaches to teaching the Bible in church contexts etc.

Caireen Likely

Thesis title: I Still Eat the Bread: Embodiment, Passive Receiving, and the Reimaging of Subjectivity in Old Age

Research: My thesis looks at theological anthropology through the lens of ageing and dementia. It seeks to reimagine subjectivity through an emphasis on theological embodiment and the passive receiving which is typified in justification, by drawing together phenomenology (particularly the work of Merleau-Ponty) and more radical interpretations of Lutheran theology (predominantly that of Dietrich Bonhoeffer) in light of the embodied acts of passive receiving in communion.

My hope is to come to a description of subjectivity that allows us to affirm the enduring of our humanity in old age, and both reveals and challenges the presupposition of justification by works that underlies emphases on cognitively driven, deliberative action in many models of the subject. It is also my hope to provide the church with the language to describe passive receiving as genuine action, and thus better our ability to describe ourselves as disciples whose lives include ageing and decline.

Prior to beginning my part-time PhD in Theological Ethics at Aberdeen in 2013 under Michael Mawson, I completed an M.Div at the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary in Calgary, Alberta, Canada (2011), followed by an MTh in Theological Ethics at the University of Aberdeen (2013).  My research interests include Dietrich Bonhoeffer, phenomenology, Lutheran theology, theological anthropology, disability theology, ageing, and bioethics.

Afshin Latifzadeh

Thesis title: Existential Anxiety in the book of Psalms: A Kierkegaardian Reading

Research: There are two major sources of existential anxiety in the writings of Kierkegaard as 'Finitude' and 'Time'. The purpose of this research is to find the same elements in the individual psalms. Finitude as our existential boundary can be subdivided into the 'finitude of bodily signification', 'finitude of reaction' and 'finitude of constriction'. 'Body' as the axis of our being, 'reaction' when the self is under attack and 'constriction' when the self becomes a copy of itself are all discussed by Kierkegaard as one of the roots of causing existential anxiety. 'Time' also when it is understood in a non-relational way can become another source of existential anxiety. 

I am working under the supervision of Professor Joachim Schaper. I am Iranian and did my BA and MA at the London School of Theology. 

Danielle Watson

Thesis title: The ‘actualisation of confession’: Karl Barth’s insistence upon proclamation as a dynamic reality.

Research: Prior to enrolling at the University of Aberdeen, I completed both BTh and MTh degrees at the Queen’s University of Belfast. My MTh dissertation focused on the ecclesiology of the Confessing Church and was entitled, ‘The German Confessing Church of the 1930s: reaction against or realistic reinterpretation of the Body of Christ?’ During the process of writing this, I became interested in the theology of Karl Barth upon whom my research at Aberdeen now focuses.

I am currently working under Professor Paul T Nimmo within Barth’s doctrine of revelation and ecclesiology. My research seeks to clarify Barth’s understanding of the creation and deployment of formal confessions of the Church with the aim of exploring how these confessions function as decisive and formal documents in view of their relationship to the dynamic truth that exists behind them. My research also hopes to contribute to contemporary discussions in ecclesiology by discerning how the Church relates to the truth statements it sets forth and claims as its own.

Rubens Ramiro Muzio

Thesis title: Godliness and Sanctification in Early Modern Protestant Spirituality

Research: This study envisions a roundtable conversation, particularly among leading Puritan thinkers within the late seventeenth century, gathered together in a panel discussion. Relatively unknown but remarkable devotional writers - Joseph Alleine, William Bridge, Thomas Brooks, Anthony Burgess, Jeremiah Burroughs, John Flavel, Walter Marshall, Thomas Watson, Thomas Boston, among others who wrote major works on doctrine and devotion in Early Modern Protestantism - will be, metaphorically speaking, invited to discuss specific elements concerning Christian life development and the doctrine of Sanctification.

Rubens Ramiro Muzio graduated from the Southern Presbyterian Seminary in Campinas with a B.A. in Theology. He has a Th.M. in Pastoral Theology from Calvin Seminary in Michigan and a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) in Pastoral Theology from Westminster Theological Seminary of Philadelphia. He is the author of ”O DNA da Liderança Cristã” (The DNA of Christian Leadership), “O DNA da Vida Cristã” (The DNA of Christian Life), and “Jornada de Fé” (The Journey of Faith) among other books.

Jacob Rollison

Thesis title: Dwelling in the Tent of Language: Towards a Theological Asceticism of the Word in a Technological Age

Research: My research is looking primarily at the works of the 20th century French sociologist and theologian Jacques Ellul. I’m focusing on Ellul’s analyses of the epistemological role of communication within theology and the role of spoken language in communication. Reading Ellul in his context of post-WWII France, it becomes clear that Ellul was writing alongside postmodern and poststructuralist philosophers such as Lyotard, Derrida, and others, and was aware of and responding to their works. My working hypothesis is that these thinkers expressed a clear understanding of a novel relation to human language which is characteristic of our epoch in the global West, and that Ellul’s navigation of these issues maintains a difficult balance between faithfulness to divine revelation and thorough sociological engagement, a balance which can be deeply instructive to Christian thought and practice today.

Before coming to the University of Abderdeen, I received my B.A. in Economics from Wheaton College and an M.A. in Media & Communication from the European Graduate School. My masters’ thesis was on language, technology, and freedom in the works of Jacques Ellul and the Slovenian contemporary continental philosopher Slavoj Žižek.

Kenneth Laing

Thesis title: The Rule of Faith and the Basis of New Testament Authority in Irenaeus.

Research: My research interests are in the area of early Church doctrines of Scripture and understandings of the nature of revelatory authority, particularly among the ante-Nicene patristic writers prior to the close of the New Testament canon. My thesis focuses specifically on the thought of the second century figure Irenaeus of Lyons and his understanding of the nature of the authority of the apostolic writings. Applying his concept of the Rule of Faith as a central hermeneutical key, I explore previously unacknowledged distinctions between the Jewish Scriptures and apostolic writings, and suggest that for Irenaeus the role of the apostolic writings as concrete forms of the apostolic Tradition has greater centrality in their unique revelatory authority then does a perception of their scriptural status, often understood on the basis of modern notions of inspiration which are read into his thought.

Prior to beginning my PhD in Systematic Theology at the University of Aberdeen in 2015, I completed a BA with a double major in Christianity & Culture and Media Communications from Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, Canada (2013), followed by an MTh in Systematic Theology from the University of Aberdeen (2014). My Master’s dissertation was similarly concerned with Irenaeus’ doctrine of Scripture and understanding of the nature of authority.

Andrew Errington

Thesis title: Wisdom and moral deliberation in theological ethics and the book of Proverbs

Research: My research is into some basic structural questions in Christian ethics to do with the shape of moral thinking. I'm particularly interested in how the idea of created order ought to function within Christian ethics. I am examining these issues by looking at the concept of wisdom as it is developed in the book of Proverbs, in dialogue with significant theological ethicists, in particular Oliver O'Donovan and Karl Barth.

Morgan Jamieson

Thesis Title: The Ties that Bind: What is the most appropriate Christian pastoral response to a bereaved parent’s desire to maintain continuing bonds with their deceased child.

Research: My professional career was based in hospital medicine with a specific emphasis on paediatric practice. Revelations in the late 1990s about post-mortem practice in two English children’s hospitals prompted widespread uncertainty and concern amongst parents who had previously lost a child.  A substantial personal involvement in addressing the resultant enquiries received by one Scottish hospital provided very revealing and moving insights into the longevity, complexity and intensity of many parents' sense of loss and the varied ways in which bereaved parents seek to sustain connection and relationship with their child. The present study, made possible by the benefits of freedom from the time constraints of career but informed by that earlier experience, is being undertaken within the discipline of practical theology and under the supervision of Prof. John Swinton. The work, which is primarily based on qualitative research undertaken with a cohort of bereaved parents, looks both at the creation of ‘continuing bonds’ (through the retention of possessions, cultivation of memory etc) and the parent’s expectations of identity and reunion in the afterlife from the specific perspective of considering how pastoral care, informed by a Christian worldview, can honourably and helpfully engage parental worldviews that may well have been refined and developed specifically to accommodate their loss.

Steven Schafer

Thesis Title: Human Sexuality, Covenant, and the Church: A Critical and Constructive Analysis of Christian Sexual Ethics

Research: I received a BA in General Studies with a minor in counselling from the University of North Texas. Following that, I completed an MDiv at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University with a concentration in Theology. Since moving to Aberdeen, I completed an MTh in Theological Ethics with a focus on Augustine’s theology of marriage.

I am currently working under Brian Brock and Stanley Hauerwas on a project which seeks to place revisionist challenges to the church’s theology of marriage in conversation with the Christian tradition, specifically Augustine’s theology of marriage. Augustine argued that the three goods of marriage are procreation, fidelity, and sacrament. I am examining the good of procreation and its implications for Christian marriage.

Haley French

Thesis Title: A Practical Pneumatology of Counselling: Pentecostal & Charismatic Perspectives on the Holy Spirit's Role in Therapy

Research: I am presently working under Professor John Swinton to explore the experiences of Pentecostal therapists and the cultivation of hope in the counselling relationship; with particular emphasis on the clinician's understanding of how the Holy Spirit operates within the therapeutic encounter in relation to fostering hope.

Prior to arriving at the University of Aberdeen, I completed a B.A. at Oral Roberts University in Sacred Music with a vocal emphasis (2006), an M.Div. at Oral Roberts University (2009), and my M.A. at Denver Seminary in Clinical Mental Health Counselling (2012). I am also a Licensed Professional Counsellor (LPC) in the State of Colorado. My research interests include practical theology, counselling psychology, eschatology, hospitality theology, Pentecostal/Charismatic theologies, and theological dialogue with the arts. 

Cynthia Tam

Thesis Title: Finding Meaning in Silences: The Experience of People with Autism and Limited Speech-Language Abilities

Research: In the book Receiving the Gift of Friendship, Reinders says, “disabled people are rarely chosen as friends, except by other disabled people.” Sadly, this is particularly true for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and limited speech and language abilities. These individuals face prejudice from all sections of the community, including the church. They are rejected, laughed at and judged negatively. For the church to move from inclusion to belonging, we need to respect the world lived by people with disabilities and seek its value. With the use of qualitative research methods, I would like to attempt to enter into the inner world of people with ASD and speech-language difficulties and seek to understand the values, challenges and questions that they may have regarding their lives. The purpose of this project is to provide data for a theological reflection on the church’s practice that may affirm the meaning, worth and values of the lives of people with ASD and speech-language difficulties.

Previous to entering into the PhD program, I completed my M.Div. Program at Tyndale University College and Seminary in Toronto, and a M.Sc. Program in Rehabilitation Science at University of Toronto. I am currently a pastor of a church, the national coordinator for disability for my denomination and the President of a Christian organization for support of families with children with special needs.

Rev Dr Stuart Sheehan

Thesis title: The Changing Theological Function of Worship Among Southern Baptists: What It Was and What It became.

Research: My current project explores evidence  of changes in the theological function of corporate worship among Baptists (later Southern Baptists).  This examination is being undertaken through an analysis of the psalter and hymn texts used among Baptists between 1637 and 1940. The thesis will seek to prove that the historic form of worship used by Baptists, which was a closed communication between God and the covenant community, gravitated toward evangelism, eventually addressing and giving voice to those outside of the covenant community.

I previously earned the Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music from the University of Texas at Austin and the BM in Church Music from Furman University. I serve as President of World Hope Ministries International and Director of World Hope Bible Institute. Much of my time is focused on providing basic theological training for pastors in remote and underserved areas of the world.

Sean McGever

Thesis title: Theology of Conversion in Wesley and Whitefield in Relation to Evangelicalism

Research: My research is the theological understanding of conversion in John Wesley and George Whitefield related to modern evangelicalism. Experts of evangelicalism routinely point back to the first Great Awakening as the formal origin of the Transatlantic Revival, with John Wesley and George Whitefield at the focal point of this activity.

Conversion is a foundational element of both modern and the early accounts of evangelicalism, but my thesis is that much has been lost and a careful review is needed. While theology proper has explored many essential soteriological categories, conversion is an aspect which has been overlooked. While not seeking to be a psychological or sociological study, this study does seek to investigate a theological understanding of conversion. More specifically, when John Wesley and George Whitefield preached conversion, wrote on conversion, and organized for conversion, what did they believe theologically about conversion? While coming from different angles related to conversion, most notably the free grace controversy, there is much overlap and commonality in their theology of conversion which is at the heart of an evangelical theological understanding of conversion. My previous studies were on the New Testament Kerygma and Creed of Nicaea, MLitt (St. Andrews), as well as an MDiv (Phoenix Seminary), and BSE in Mechanical Engineering (Arizona State University).

Troy Onsager

Thesis title:  The Confessional Foundations of Ecclesiastical Unity In Karl Barth

Research: My research will be focusing upon Barth’s nascent understanding of the confessional foundations of church unity beginning with his study of the Reformed Tradition, and then will look forward to his more mature, articulate understanding of church unity in its act of confession for the sake of the visible global church. The research will focus both on Barth’s dogmatics works as well as his own ecclesiastical participation and ecumenical addresses. I am a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary (M-DIV), and I studied Reformation Theology at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford on a Parish-Pulpit Fellowship from PTS.

Emmanuel Gergis

Thesis title: One True Reality: T. F. Torrance and the Unitary Ontological and Economic Christology of the Alexandrian Patristic Tradition

Research: My current PhD research at the University of Aberdeen is focused on exploring the dialogue between the Alexandrian Patristic tradition and the theology of T. F. Torrance. Within this dialogue of traditions, I am specifically interested in the understanding of Christology as a unitary reality and its implications on theological anthropology and the concept of realism.

Before my research at Aberdeen, I completed an M.A. from the University of Balamand where I focused on the Christology of Cyril of Alexandria and an M.Litt from the University of St. Andrews where I focused on the theological anthropology of Gregory of Nyssa and Ephrem the Syrian. My research interests include systematic theology, theological anthropology, Patristics, theological realism, and the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Nathan McConnell

Thesis title: ‘Prisoners of Hope’: Asylum Seeking and the Christian Mission in Malta

Research: My research explores the theological, political and ecclesiological ramifications of irregular migration and asylum seeking. More specifically, the use and role of containment for those seeking asylum to the European Union. Part of this research involves ethnographic/phenomenological analysis of North and East African migrants and the complications of their entry, acceptance and integration.

Previous to my PhD project, I completed my MTh in Practical Theology and Christian Ethics at King’s College, University of Aberdeen under the direction of Brian Brock and Chris Brittain.

Claire Hein Blanton

Thesis title: Between Resistance and Collaboration: Locating Ecclesial Responsibility to Government Action in the Political Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Research: After finishing a Bachelor of Arts in History from Rice University in Houston, Texas and a Master’s of Divinity in Theology from Truett Seminary at Baylor University, I started doctoral research at the University of Aberdeen in Theological Ethics. My project engages with the broader ethics of Bonhoeffer with a specific focus on his political theology. I am exploring how Bonhoeffer holds in tension an historic Lutheran theology of an ordering of church and state in creation, within the historic context of Nazi Germany, and how this theology has been constructed in modern church state contexts. 

My research interests include political theology and theory, ecclesiology, ethics, reconciliation and restorative justice, historical theology, and German history.

Joshua Stinson Honeycutt

Thesis Title: The Presentation of the Priesthood in the Context of the Twelve Minor Prophets

Research: My research is based on a synchronic reading of the Minor Prophets with special attention placed on how the priesthood is presented literarily within the context of the individual books as well as the Book of the Twelve.  While I have a variety of research interests, I am particularly interested in literary studies within the Hebrew Bible, prophetic literature, and Hebrew poetry.

Before enrolling at Aberdeen, I received an M.A. from Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.  My primary focus of study was in biblical languages. Before Southeastern, I completed my B.S. in science education with a physics emphasis from NC State University. 

Jonathan David Lynch

Thesis title: Strength Perfected in Weakness: The intimate Brotherly Discipleship of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Research: Prior to beginning a PhD at the University of Aberdeen, I received a BA in History and MDiv from Oral Roberts University, as well as an MA Taught in Christian Theology from Durham University. My primary focus of study was biblical languages, Christology, and gaining competency in eight languages. My previous research at Durham University examined the concept of the fear of God in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christology as a response to the German Nazi Church and Humanism.

Currently my research at the University of Aberdeen investigates using Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theology of weakness as a hermeneutical key for reading the Bonhoeffer corpus. In evaluating weakness and shame in the life of discipleship, I am seeking to better establish Bonhoeffer’s rationale for discipleship in relation to his concept of Religionless Christianity. In the future, I wish to pursue a post-doctorate that explores the ways in which post-enlightenment philosophy, Western capitalism, democracy, and idealism has cultivated a strong individuality in the Western church. In this way, I hope to discover not only why a strong individuality presently exists in the Western church, but also to provide possible solutions for increasing platonic intimacy in the context of discipleship. My research interests are quite vast, but include Pauline theology, Christology, hamartiology, soteriology, ecclesiology, ethics, Post-enlightenment theology and philosophy, and Christian discipleship.

Gary Michael

Thesis Title: Divorce and Remarriage from the Perspective of Matthew 19

Research: My research focuses on divorce and remarriage in the Bible using the Greek text of Matthew 19 as an initial lens. I’m also interested in connections to the Old Testament, including the Masoretic Text, Septuagint, and Dead Sea Scrolls. The research further explores extra-biblical literature from Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism, Greco-Roman society, and the Patristic period.

Before studying at the University of Aberdeen, I completed a B.A. in Geography and Studio Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Master of Theology at Vintage Bible College and Seminary, and an M.A. in Biblical Studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (all in the USA).