PSCO Presentation: 21 March, 2013

Panel Discussion: “Orthodoxy and Heresy”

Helmut Koester (Harvard University), Ann Matter (University of Pennsylvania), Vasiliki Limberis (Temple University), and David Jorgensen (Princeton University)


As part of our series of reflections on the past 50 years of scholarship — and the next 50 — we will consider changing perspectives on "orthodoxy" and "heresy" with panelists Helmut Koester, Ann Matter, Vasiliki Limberis, and David Jorgensen. See below for suggested readings.


Helmut Koester (Harvard University, Emeritus) graduated from Marburg in 1954 as Rudolph Bultmann’s last PhD student. Koester has been at Harvard since 1958, where he became John H. Morison Research Professor of Divinity and Winn Research Professor of Ecclesiastical History in 2000. From 1975 to 1999 he was editor of Harvard Theological Review, and he is co-editor and chair of the New Testament editorial board of Hermeneia, as well as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member and former President of SBL, and a member of the Societas Novi Testamenti Studiorum.

Vasiliki Limberis (Temple University) — after her college career at the University of San Francisco (1976) — earned an MTS degree at Harvard Divinity School (1979) followed by the ThD (1987), with her dissertation on "Identities and Images of the Theotokos in the Akathistos Hymn." She taught at Haverford from 1986 (when she first attended the PSCO), and thence to Temple in 1990, with promotion to full professor in 2012.

E. Ann Matter (University of Pennsylvania) is a graduate of Oberlin College (1971), and did her MA (1975), MPhil (1975), and ThD at Yale (1976). She joined the Penn Faculty in 1976, became William R. Kenan Professor of Religious Studies (2005), and served as Associate Dean for Arts & Letters (2006-2010). Recently, she became the co-editor of both The New Cambridge History of the Bible, and Creative Women in Medieval and Early Modern Italy: A Religious and Artistic Renaissance; she is also Christianity Editor of the Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions.

David Jorgensen (Princeton University) completed an MTS at Harvard Divinity School and is presently a doctoral student at Princeton University; his work centers around the unity and diversity of Christianity (1st-4th c. CE), in particular, biblical hermeneutics and exegesis, canon formation, and constructions of orthodoxy and heresy. He is completing work on his dissertation, "Treasure Hidden in a Field: Valentinian Exegesis of the Gospel of Matthew."

Video of the Session

The First Hour: Two Presentations

This video includes Bob Kraft's introductions, and the presentations of Helmut Koester and Vasiliki Limberis.

Two More Presentations

This video includes the presentations of E. Ann Matter and David Jorgensen.

General Discussion

This video includes the general discussion.

Suggested Readings

“The Impact of Walter Bauer’s Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum,” by Helmut Koester (available in PDF format)

This is an unpublished paper written originally for the 2012 SBL conference in Chicago and delivered in absentia; here edited and augmented by Robert Kraft for the 21 March 2013 PSCO session.

E. Ann Matter, "Orthodoxy and Deviance," in The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 4: Early Medieval Christianities, ed. T. Noble and J. Smith (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 510-30.

Einar Thomassen, "Orthodoxy and Heresy in Second-Century Rome," HTR 97.3 (2004) 241-56

Those who are part of our Facebook group can access the files for the above-mentioned articles under the Files tab there. For others who want copies of some or all of them, please email Annette Yoshiko Reed (at reedanne@sas).

The following texts are easily available online at the links provided below.

Bob Kraft's "Summary and Prospectus" section of "The Reception of the Book," Appendix 2 to Bauer (available online)

Eusebius, Church History, Book 5, Chapter 28, (on the heresy of Artemon); (available online at CCEL)

Basil of Caesarea, The Hexaemeron, Homily 9; (available online at New Advent)

Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 33, Against the Arians; (available online at New Advent)

Gregory of Nyssa, On the Faith. (available online at New Advent)

Meeting and Dining

All are welcome! As usual, those wishing to dine together before the seminar will meet at 6:00 p.m. in the Second-Floor Lounge of Cohen Hall and then go next door to the food court in Houston Hall.

As usual, the PSCO seminar will begin at 7:00 p.m. and end at 9:00 p.m. We meet in the Second-Floor Lounge of Cohen Hall.