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Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Our Graduates and What They Studied

    2017

    Certificate of Theological Studies

      Bernadette Dolores Ament
      Hong-Rak Chae

      Powanat Kitsawat, SDB
      Francis 
Lawrence, Klimecki
      Michal Kumorek, OP
      Adrian L. Mendoza, SDB
      Massimo 
Schwarzel, SDB

Master of Divinity

Pius Youn, OP
Bryan Kromholtz, OP (Advisor)

Master of Arts (Philosophy), Exam Option

Noland W. Brown
"Putnam's Rejection of Metaphysical Realism"
Michael Dodds, OP (Advisor)

My paper attempts to show that the rejection of "Metaphysical Realism" by semi-realists like Putnam is ill-motivated, and, particularly in Putnam's case, leads to him trying and failing to use language as a foundation for his more mitigated realism.

Master of Arts (Philosophy), Thesis Option

Jonathan Matthew Amaral 
“Plato on Mind-Body Interaction”
Eugene Ludwig, OFM Cap (Coordinator)
Klaus Corcilius
Marga Vega, PhD

Contemporary approaches to Plato’s view of the soul tend to treat him as a kind of substance dualist. These accounts usually focus on the Phaedo and other early dialogues. My thesis attempts to offer a much more nuanced perspective based on the late dialogues, particularly Philebus, Timaeus, Theaetetus, and Laws X. On my reading, Plato is actually much closer to Aristotle. Both philosophers extend the Presocratic view that the soul is a principle or cause that directs the activities of living things, though they each express this idea differently. Timaeus, like De Anima, describes the activities of the appetitive and spirited parts of the soul as indistinguishable from the activities of bodily organs and directed toward specific ends that serve the organism as a whole. The exception to this model is the immortal part of the soul, which necessarily lacks a corporeal organ given the nature of abstract reasoning, just like the intellect in Aristotle.

Master of Arts (Theology), Exam Option

Kevin Andrew
Marianne Farina, CSC (Advisor)

David Michael Basile
Edward Krasevac, OP (Advisor)

Michele Aileen Berrios
Edward Krasevac, OP (Advisor)

Paul McCaffery Ford
Edward Krasevac, OP (Advisor)

Barbara Grace Graichen
Anselm Ramelow, OP (Advisor)

Claire Marie Herrick
Christopher Renz, OP (Advisor)

Benjamin Lu
Bryan Kromholtz, OP (Advisor)

Jeremy James Mallett
Bryan Kromholtz, OP (Advisor)

Seira Matsushima
Marianne Farina, CSC (Advisor)

John Paul Ochoa
Marianne Farina, CSC (Advisor)

Michael L. Pomo
Joseph Boenzi, SDB (Advisor)

Anne Pym McDonald
Marianne Farina, CSC (Advisor)

William Turrentine
Bryan Kromholtz, OP (Advisor)

Master of Arts (Theology), Thesis Option

Emmanuel Benjamin (with honors)
“A Study of Mar Narsai’s Three Homilies on the East Syrian Liturgical Season of Annunciation”
Eugene Ludwig, OFM Cap (Coordinator)
Thomas Cattoi
Susanna Elm 

Mar Narsai, a 5th-century theologian who wrote in the Syriac language, penned three homilies on the East Syrian liturgical season of Annunciation, and has as his main focus in these homilies the forms and workings of divine revelation. Narsai presents a theological approach to history which has Jesus Christ as the object of all divine revelation prior to his coming, and the object from which all revelation proceeds after. He does this by presenting an exegesis of several Old Testament events, in particular those having to do with Abraham. In these Narsai demonstrates that the workings of divine revelation before the coming of Jesus Christ were to “announce” not only his coming but also that which he was to accomplish i.e. the renewal and salvation of man. Concerning the forms of divine revelation, Narsai teaches that after the enfleshment of the Word of God, Christ’s humanity now acts as the visible image by which the invisible God reveals himself in the fullness of revelation that man is able to receive.

Master of Arts (Theology) and Master of Divinity

Thomas Aquinas Pickett, OP (with honors)
“Sacrifice in the Natural Law According to Saint Thomas Aquinas”
Edward Krasevac, OP (Coordinator)
Marianne Farina, CSC
John Hilary Martin, OP

This thesis examines how and why St. Thomas includes the offering of religious sacrifice among the acts prescribed by the natural law. We see that the offering of sacrifice arises from a natural human inclination consequent to rational reflection on the existence of God. As a part of the virtue of religion, the highest moral virtue, sacrifice connects intrinsically to human flourishing and happiness.

Concurrent Program, Master of Arts (Philosophy) and Master of Arts (Theology)

Christopher Louis Wetzel, OP (with honors)
“Analogy in Contemporary Physics and the Theology of Divine Action”
Michael Dodds, OP (Coordinator)
Robert Russell
Marga Vega

How can we speak of God as acting in the world as described in Revelation while at the same time respecting the “laws of nature” which seem to order the universe? St. Thomas Aquinas addressed this question with the help of the philosophy of Aristotle by using the notion of the analogy of being. Contemporary physics, however, has diverged significantly from the paradigm of Aristotelian physics; Thomistic principles are rarely mentioned in discussions concerning the metaphysics underlying quantum field theory and general relativity. This calls into question the relevance of a theory of divine action based on Thomistic or Aristotelian thought. Can such a theory of objective special divine action meaningfully and concretely interface with contemporary science? This thesis presents the position of St. Thomas Aquinas on divine action and shows that the principles of Thomistic metaphysics, particularly the analogy of being, can address significant ontological questions that arise purely in the context of contemporary physics.

GTU Master of Arts

Jennifer Lehmann
“Second Sons and Mammas’ Boys: Masculinity in the Jacob Story”
Barbara Green, OP (Coordinator)
Naomi Seidman
Katy Valentine

By comparing the portrayal of Jacob’s masculinity to that of his brother, his sons, and his God, this thesis examines the role that masculinity plays in the narrative of Jacob’s life. It concludes that Jacob’s masculinity is consistently portrayed as subordinate, which serves to characterize Jacob as an underdog and to highlight God’s power.

2016

Certificate of Theological Studies

George Kuriakose Nedumkallel, SDB
Marcin Slowik, OP
Luis Carlos Valencia-Osorio
Yoon Mankeun, SDB

Master of Theological Studies

Thomas Patrick Greerty, KM
Capstone Project:
Pope Francis Legal Center: Mediation, Reconciliation, Resolution.
Marianne Farina, CSC (advisor)

The Pope Francis Legal Center will provide a location for legal consultations. The lawyers serving the center see their service as one of mercy, helping those who experience complex and difficult legal situations and have no other recourse. The center has the support of Rev. Michael Barber, SJ, Bishop of Oakland, and Fr. George Mockel, Vicar General of the Oakland diocese. Because of their support and the hard work of our team of lawyers and benefactors, the Pope Francis Legal Center will open on June 4, 2016 with a Mass and Dedication at the Cathedral of Christ the Light at 5:30 pm with Bishop Barber presiding. All are welcome.

Sandra Elizabeth Tasca
Capstone Project:
Illuminated Manuscript
Marianne Farina, CSC (advisor)

The project is an interpretation of Saint Bonaventure’s masterwork, Journey of the Soul into God using photographic illuminations prepared for electronic media. Referencing Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts illustrated using gold leaf and other vibrant colors to interpret sacred texts, the graphic design and photography projected through the luminance of an electronic screen, offers a contemporary rendition of a spiritual journey.
Inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s Via Pulchritudinis (The Way of Beauty) and its exhortation to discover creative ways to evangelize, this project re-presents Bonaventure’s spiritual writing in a contemporary way so that it is more accessible to even a casual reader. The work can be viewed at www.tascafineart.com.

Master of Arts (Philosophy), Thesis Option

Nicholas Case
“Thomisms: The Methodological Plurality in the Study of St.Thomas”
Michael Dodds, OP (Coordinator)
Richard Schenk, OP
Bryan Kromholtz, OP

Given the diversity of Thomisms the leading ones deserve a detailed account. How should the leading contemporary Thomisms be mapped? What truly separates the leading Thomisms? Are some Thomisms compatible, are some incompatible? How can we navigate and chart Thomisms? Does charting the diversity of Thomisms lead to a relativizing of Thomism? To address these questions this work engages four of the leading Thomisms, each widely recognized as divergent and influential: Leonine (Neo-Scholastic) Thomism, Transcendental Thomism, Analytical Thomism, and Ressourcement Thomism. These have been chosen because of their recognizable influence on Thomism in general and for that reason are easily discernible in both their shared agreements and differences. Analysis is completed in three stages: First, charting and characterizing the four leading models of Thomism, performing a typology which highlights authors and trends within the models. Second, opening a discussion on the evaluation and relation between the models. Finally, third, tying together the analysis with a brief conclusion and an anticipation of future research.

Michael Onofre
“Max Scheler’s Theory of Value and Personhood”
Eugene Ludwig, OFM Cap (Coordinator)
Marga Vega
John Hilary Martin, OP

My thesis focused on Max Scheler’s concept of personhood. Specifically I looked at how Scheler developed his notion of the person using the phenomenological tradition. I also looked at how his value theory informed his understanding, shared similarities with Kant, and analyzed whether or not it was a viable system. In the end I tried to interpret his value theory as an anthropological structure of the human mind.

Michaela Teresa Sobrak-Seaton, WITH HONORS
“What Language Tells Us About Who We Are: Thomas Aquinas and Donald Davidson on Language and Human Nature”
Justin Gable, OP (Coordinator)
Anselm Ramelow, OP
Marga Vega

A Thomistic understanding of language seemingly tells us much more about how words are connected to objects than about how people use words to relate to each other. The philosopher Donald Davidson solves this apparent deficiency by situating his account of language in the context of the speaker-listener relationship. Ultimately, however, Davidson fails to account for the very aspects of language which he attempts to explain, because his understanding of language is inconsistent with his understanding of human nature. I argue that a Thomistic understanding of human nature, as ordered toward relation with others, is compatible with certain aspects of Davidson’s account while avoiding its inconsistencies. Thus, a Thomistic perspective allows for the development of a more holistic understanding of how and why we use language to communicate with one another, and what our understanding of language tells us about our nature as human beings. In bringing Aquinas into conversation with contemporary theories of language, I do not argue that his theory is in need of updating, but rather that our understanding of his work on language must be refined and developed, particularly regarding the relationship between speaker and listener.

Robert William Verrill, OP, WITH HONORS
“Corporeal Substances, Tangible Qualities and the Four Elements”
Michael Dodds, OP (Coordinator)
Anselm Ramelow, OP  
Marga Vega

Many contemporary Thomists believe that Aquinas’s philosophy of nature can be understood independently of his medieval science. For example, it is often claimed that Aquinas’s theory of the virtual presence of the elements in corporeal substances can be easily translated to a modern context in which the elements of the periodic table take the place of the four elements of earth, air, fire and water.    In my thesis I argue against this belief and I show how important it is to understand Aquinas’s account of the four elements and the four tangible qualities of hot, cold, wet and dry, if we are to give an accurate account of his philosophy of nature. I believe that an understanding of Aquinas’s medieval science opens up further avenues of research that may one day lead to a far more Thomistic interpretation of modern physics than has been presented by contemporary Thomists so far.

Concurrent Program, Master of Arts (Philosophy) and Master of Arts (Theology)

Asher “Ephraim” Alkhas
“Philosophical Terms and Anthropology in the Christology of Mar Babai the Great and St. Maximus the Confessor”
Eugene Ludwig, OFM Cap  (Coordinator)
Thomas Cattoi
Susanna Elm

Mar Babai the Great of the Assyrian Church of the East and Saint Maximus the Confessor each wrote definitive descriptions of the person of Jesus Christ, as both truly God and truly man. Mar Babai wrote the definitive articulation of christology for the Assyrian Church, as did St. Maximus for the Chalcedonian Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions. This thesis examines how both thinkers express a contingency of faith in their full expressions of their respective theological traditions.

Christopher Thomas Caruso
“The Indispensability of the Body for Human Happiness”
Marianne Farina, CSC (Coordinator)
Michael Dodds, OP
Bryan Kromholtz, OP

This thesis examined claims that Catholic Christianity views the body primarily as a stumbling block to human happiness with God. Through the use of historical, philosophical and theological studies, particularly the work of Thomas Aquinas, it demonstrates that the Church believes that the body is not only holy and integral to human fulfillment in this life but also indispensable for human happiness in eternity with God.

Peter Junipero Hannah, OP, WITH HONORS
“The Metaphysics of Meaning: Applying a Thomistic Ontology of Art to a Contemporary Hermeneutical Puzzle and the Problem of the Sensus Literalis.”
Anselm Ramelow, OP  (Coordinator)
Edward Krasevac, OP
Christopher Ocker

The thesis explores a solution to the problem of the "literal sense" of Scripture. Whereas Hans-Georg Gadamer emphasizes textual subject matter as the site of meaning, and E.D. Hirsch emphasizes authorial intention, an analysis of the artistic object using Aquinas's four causes reveals the intrinsic relation between the two. Authors impart original formal determinations; yet later readers can unfold dimensions of the original meaning of which the author may not have been conscious, but still can be said to have intended in virtue of the text's final cause, which is to "be understood." Thus historical-critical exegetical and reader-centered analyses—and by extension exegesis and theology—can be put into a harmonious and ordered relation.

Matthew Sanford Horwitz
Omnis hierarchiae finis est unitas et similitudo ad Deum: The Role of the Corpus Dionysiacum in Thomas Aquinas’s Portrayal of the Church as the Hierarchical Context for Deification in the Scriptum super Sententiis
Bryan Kromholtz, OP (Coordinator)
Eugene Ludwig, OFM Cap
Michael Dodds, OP

This study examines the “influence and noninfluence” of the Dionysian corpus—the pseudonymous collection of writings claiming the authorship of the Biblical figure Dionysius the Areopagite—on Thomas Aquinas’s portrayal of the Church as the hierarchical context for deification in his commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences. In the course of the study, I establish that Dionysian concepts govern, to a significant extent, the early Aquinas's vision of the Church as a hierarchical structure in which the end goal is deification. I further show that Aquinas is, in many respects, a faithful student of the Dionysian corpus, which is itself not always so far off from his own thought as the differing milieux of the two authors might otherwise suggest. I also demonstrate, however, that he does not refrain from significantly modifying Dionysius’s ideas, with the result that points of divergence obtain between the two thinkers, some of which I explore as well.

Tomasz Mikolajski, OP, WITH HONORS
“The Paradox of Petitionary Prayer to an Omniscient, Omnibenevolent and Immutable God”
Michael Dodds, OP (Coordinator)
Marga Vega
Anselm Ramelow, OP  

Many believe that petitionary prayer is not merely a wishful thinking, but rather an efficacious means through which some states of affairs may be brought about, which otherwise would not happen. It might seem, however, that the classical notion of God is inconsistent with the practice of prayer: Why should we petition an omniscient God who knows what we need? Should not a perfectly good God grant us what we need regardless of whether we ask for it? Finally, can our prayers affect an immutable God?

Nicholas Senz
“The True Forestructure: Gadamerian Elements in Congar’s Theology of Tradition”
Anselm Ramelow, OP  (Coordinator)
Bryan Kromholtz, OP
Justin Gable, OP

The thought of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Yves Congar on the notion of tradition bear certain similarities. Both are keenly aware of the role of history, and both are conscious of the effect of received ideas (“forestructures”) in forming our thinking. Yet Congar’s thought avoids some of the relativist-leaning pitfalls of Gadamer’s ideas, due largely to the truths of the Christian faith which Congar accepts.

Matthew J. Sills
“Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus on the Will”
Anselm Ramelow, OP  (Coordinator)
John Hilary Martin, OP
Sr. Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ

This thesis presents a comparison of the principles and essential aspects of free will as found in the writings of Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus, and points to the theological value found in maintaining both accounts in their heterogeneity. This is done by appealing to a shared Aristotelian framework as the foundation for navigating significant differences found in the first principles used by Aquinas and Scotus to describe the will in relation to man’s other powers. It concludes, generally, that Aquinas’ method of exposition on this topic favors a viewing potencies and causation according to the mode of physics (i.e., causes of and potency towards motion), whereas Scotus’ method favors utilizing the metaphysical modes of causation and potency (i.e., causes of and potency towards being). This modal equivocation on the ‘potency’ of the will ultimately prevents any synthesis, but both accounts are seen to provide what is necessary for a fully Christian anthropology (viz., a free and self-determining will) with a difference arising about whether perfection begins by first knowing or by loving.

GTU Master of Arts (Concentration in Biblical Languages)

Christopher Brannan, OP
Barbara Green, OP  (Coordinator)

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