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Priest R. Demetrios Harper

Associate Professor of Church History & Moral Theology; Director of Graduate Studies

Fr. Demetrios Harper (born Reuben L. Harper) was raised and completed his primary education in Southwestern Virginia. In 1998, at the age of 20, he was received into the Holy Orthodox Church. After his marriage to his wife, Marina, in 2002, he would go on to complete a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and philosophy at East Tennessee State University, graduating magna cum laude and having completed the requirements of the Honors College for honors-in-discipline. In 2004, he and his wife relocated to Thessaloniki, Greece, where he spent the next several years studying the Greek language, theology, and theologically-related disciplines, both on a graduate and undergraduate level, at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and at the Higher Ecclesiastical Academy in Pylaia. His studies in Thessaloniki culminated in the successful completion of an MTh at AUTh in Systematic Theology and Dogmatics. In early 2011, he was inducted into the doctoral program at the University of Winchester, U.K. After the successful defense of a doctoral thesis, he was awarded a PhD in May of 2015. In June of the same year, he was granted a two-year Early Career Research Fellowship at the University of Winchester. In 2018, he was appointed a Post-doctoral Fellow in Byzantine Studies at the Medieval Institute, University of Notre Dame, and he was elected Assistant Professor of Church History and Moral Theology at Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary, Jordanville, in 2019. In 2020, Fr. Demetrios was named Associate Professor and Director of Holy Trinity’s MDiv program.

Fr. Demetrios was ordained to the priesthood in 2008 at the hand of Hilarion, Metropolitan of ROCOR, at the Convent of Novo-Diveevo. From 2010–18, in addition to his academic activities, he served as a priest under the omophorion of Ioel, Metropolitan of Edessa, Greece. He was also co-founder of Analogia: The Pemptousia Journal for Theological Studies and served a three-year term as Assistant Editor from 2015–18. Fr. Demetrios and his wife, Marina, currently live in upstate New York with their daughter, Emilia.

Educational Background

  • B.A., East Tennessee State University
  • M.A., Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • PhD., University of Winchester

Teaching Interests

  • Moral theology
  • Historical theology
  • Philosophical and systematic theology
  • Late-antique and Byzantine Christian history
  • Dogmatics

Current Projects and Research Interests

  • Philosophical theology
  • Byzantine philosophy
  • The Christian reception of pagan thought
  • Christian anthropology
  • Ethics
  • Patristics

Fr. Demetrios is currently working on a project researching the Byzantine Christian understanding of self-determination (autexousion) and moral selfhood, which will culminate in a second work of monograph length.

Selected publications

  • “Self-determination and the Question of Subjectivity: Moral Selfhood in Maximus the Confessor.” Studia Patristica (forthcoming 2021).
  • “Autonomy and Heteronomy in Eastern Christian Thought and Post-enlightenment Ethical Paradigms.” In the T&T Clark Companion to Christian Ethics, edited by Tobias Winright. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, forthcoming 2021.
  • “Understanding Self-determination and Moral Selfhood in the Sources of Late-antique and Byzantine Christian Thought.” In The Reception of Greek Ethics in Late Antiquity and Byzantium, edited by Sophia Xenophontos. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2021.
  • "The Analogy of Love: St. Maximus the Confessor and the Foundations of Ethics." Scholarly Monographs Series 3. Yonkers, NY: SVS Press, 2019.
  • “The Kantian ‘Two Images Problem’, its Lesson for Eschatology, and the Path of Maximian Analogy.” In On Being and Time: At the Intersection of Ontology and History, edited by Andrew Kaethler. Lanham: Lexington/Fortress, 2019.
  • "Christos Yannaras: Philosophy, Theology, and Culture." Andreopoulos, Andreas and Demetrios Harper, eds. Abingdon: Routledge, 2018.

Recent Conference Presentations and Activities

  • “Making the Word Flesh: Natural Law and Exegesis in St. Maximus the Confessor.” Presented at the session, The Role of Philosophy in Greek and Byzantine Exegesis, with the SBL History of Interpretation Unit, at the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature Annual Conference, San Diego, California, November 23–26, 2019.
  • “Self-determination and the Question of Subjectivity: Autexousion Agency in Maximus the Confessor.” Presented at the workshop, Exploring Nuances in Maximos the Confessor’s Thought, at the XVIII International Conference on Patristic Studies, Oxford, U.K., August 19–24, 2019.
  • “Autonomous Subject or Objective Participant?: Understanding Moral Selfhood in Byzantine Christian Thought.” Presented at the colloquium, New Sources of the Self and Self-determination: Paradigms from Byzantium and the Medieval West, at the Medieval Institute, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, April 24, 2019.
  • “Gnomic Surrender and Autonomy: Retrieving and Integrating the Byzantine Conception of Moral Determination.” Presented in the Moral Theology and Theological Anthropology Section at the International Orthodox Theological Association’s (IOTA) conference in Iasi, Romania, January 2019.
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