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What Did Deacons Do?

Wednesday, 24 FebruaryFriday, 26 February

John N. Collins’ seminal work Diakonia: Re-interpreting the Ancient Sources (New York, 1990) provided the impulse for new research into the role and relevance of deacons and deaconesses in the developing Christian Church. Deacons and deaconesses were not just responsible for caritas. They fulfilled an important role both in the network of Christian communities and as assistant-leaders.

A next step in this new research was a conference organized by the Pontifical Patristic Institute Augustinianum in Rome and the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology. The proceedings are published in Diakonia, diaconiae, diaconato: Semantica e storia nei padri della chiese edited by V. Grossi, B.J. Koet, and P.J.J. van Geest (Rome, 2010).

Since then, much work has been done, led and inspired by Dr. Edwina Murphy (Morning College, Sydney), Dr. Esko Ryökäs (University of Eastern Finland) and Dr. Bart J. Koet (Tilburg School of Catholic Theology, TST) in association with Dr. Arnold Smeets (TST). Dr. Koet is also co-director of the Center for the Study of Early Christianity, a collaboration between the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the TST.

Since 2014 the School of Theology (University of Eastern Finland) regularly organizes international and ecumenical research conferences. The proceedings of the last conference are published in Deacons and Diakonia in Early Christianity: the First Two Centuries edited by Bart J. Koet, Esko Ryökäs, and Edwina Murphy (Tübingen, 2018). In 2022 we hope to publish a second volume on deacons and diakonia in Early Christianity.

As a follow-up to the 2020 zoom-seminars What Did Deacons Do?, the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology is facilitating a new series of seminars. In May 2021 another series will be organized.


24 February, 4-5 PM (GMT+1)

Chair: Dr. Nienke Vos, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
* Why Ask what Deacons Did? Dr. Arnold Smeets, TST
* The Liminal Nature of the Diaconal Role in the Didascalia Apostolorum. Phoebe Kearns MA, University of Winchester

25 February, 4-5 PM (GMT+1)

Chair: Dr. Bart J. Koet, TST
Deacons in the Testament of Our Lord. The State of the Question and Avenues for Future Research. Dr. Grant White,
Sankt Ignatios College, Stockholm School of Theology

26 February, 4-5 PM (GMT+1)

Chair: Dr. Paul van Geest, TST
Deacons in the Writings of Gregory Nazianzen. Dr. Brian J. Matz, Fontbonne University (U.S.A.)

Practical Information

Admission is free. Please register using www.tiu.nu/Deacons02-2021. Participants will receive an email with the zoom link on February 23, 2021.

Please feel free to send this invitation to other interested scholars.


prof. dr. Bart J. Koet, Tilburg School of Catholic Theology
dr. Edwina Murphy, Morling College, Sydney
dr. Esko Ryökäs, University of Eastern Finland
dr. Arnold Smeets, Tilburg School of Catholic Theology


Wednesday, 24 February
Friday, 26 February
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