Amy Hughes, Ph.D. 2013

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Amy Hughes

Recipient of the Dale and Susan Kemp Fellowship

My dissertation, “‘Chastely I Life For Thee’: Virginity as Bondage and Freedom in Origen of Alexandria, Methodius of Olympus, and Gregory of Nyssa” supervised by Dr. George Kalantzis, examines the link between virginity and Christology from the perspective of literary and theological legacy in and through Origen of Alexandria, Methodius of Olympus, and Gregory of Nyssa. These writers are representative of a strain in Eastern tradition that I argue offers historical theology a distinctive discourse on Christology, specifically as instantiated in the language of virginity. The virginal life was a crucible for the early Christian christological imagination; the virgins’ choices, bodies, and legacies construct and constitute part of this discourse. Categorizing virginity as a “performing” Christology has the benefit of drawing the countless, and often nameless, virgins into an important historical theological discourse. The focus on Origen, Methodius, and Gregory’s conceptions of the virginal life offers theology a paradigm that is necessarily philosophical and resists a totalizing gendered discourse in a significant enough way to merit its consideration for modern christological discussions on the Incarnation. Simply put, for Origen, Methodius, and Gregory, virginity is Christology and the imitation Christi. 

Wheaton College has been the perfect place for me to be nurtured as a scholar. My time in the PhD program researching the tradition of the Church has been a source of great joy. I benefited greatly from being a part of the Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies, having been able to meet and engage top scholars in my field as a result. Although my focus was historical theology specifically, formal and informal interaction with my colleagues in biblical studies and systematic theology was common and a source of enrichment. My classes and cohort was small enough that real engagement could take place as easily in the classroom as it could in the library over lunch. Aside from Wheaton’s environment that encourages rigorous academic study and spiritual growth, it was my advisor, Dr. George Kalantzis, who took the time to encourage me and also to push me when I needed it. I have come out the other side a better scholar for it.

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