Tantur Summer Seminar


Communion Among Christians: The Early Church and Today

Dates: July 3 - 14,  2017

Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem, Israel

Daily Structure

  • 9:00 AM  Morning Prayer
  • 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM  Morning Seminar led by a senior participant and a graduate student; focus on the day's readings
  • 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM  Afternoon Session led by two students; How does this subject, these readings, affect the present life of Christians?
  • 5:15 PM  Evening Prayer
  • A Catholic Eucharist will also be celebrated at 8:00 AM each day, for those who wish to take part.

Special Events

  • Public lectures by senior participants.
  • Local field trips to holy sites, places that reveal local Christian diversity.
  • Sunday: Mass at Melkite Cathedral and visits to Lutheran or Anglican center and Orthodox Patriarchate.

Seminar Organizer

  • Fr. Brian Daley, SJ - University of Notre Dame

Additional Presenters

  • Patout Burns – Vanderbilt University
  • Kristin Colberg – College of Saint Benedict / Saint John’s University
  • Shawn Colberg – College of Saint Benedict / Saint John’s University
  • Joseph Komanchak – Catholic University of America
  • Kathryn Johnson – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Bishop Denis Madden – Archdiocese of Baltimore
  • Jane Merdinger – Independent Scholar
  • Paul Meyendorff – St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary
  • Scott Moringiello – DePaul University
  • Christopher Ruddy – Catholic University of America

How to Apply

Applications for the Tantur Summer Seminar are now closed.  

Benefits for Participants

Accepted applicants will be provided with room and board at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem from July 2 through July 15, 2017, and a $500 subvention to support travel.  Travel must be arranged through the University of Notre Dame.


Monday, July 3: Christian Beginnings.

Readings: Paul, Epistle to the Ephesians; Letters of Ignatius of Antioch; Clement of Rome, Letter to the Corinthians. Ludwig Hertling: Communio                                                                                                             

Issues: What does the earliest Christian practice reveal about how Christians understood the Church as "one body"?  Does this offer us a model for future relations among the Churches?

Leader:  Brian Daley, SJ

Tuesday, July 4: Universal Communion and Gnostic Christianity.  

Readings:  Irenaeus, Against the Heresies,  selected texts.

Issues:  Irenaeus links communion in Church structures and sacramental life with fidelity to the apostolic message. How are Church structure and authority related to right faith? Can one be faithful as a Christian without some form of sharing in the universal body of believers?  What would that look like?  How does Irenaeus help us reflect on these needs?

Leader:  Prof.  Scott Moringiello (DePaul University)

Wednesday, July 5:  Church Unity under Persecution: the Writings of Cyprian.  

Readings: Cyprian, On the Unity of the Church; selected letters.

Issues:  What new pressures on Christian unity are raised by external political and social hostility to the body of Christian faithful?   Are there analogies today?  What is Cyprian's model of Christian unity in faith and structure?

Leader:  Prof. J. Patout Burns  (Vanderbilt University, ret.)

Thursday, July 6:  The Donatist Model of the Church, and the Response of Augustine.  

Readings:  W. H. C. Frend,  The Donatist Church (chapters);  Augustine, selected Sermons;    Homilies on I John; Augustine, Letters on Apiarius

Issues:  How did Donatists and Catholics really differ?  What assumptions lay behind the schism?  What were the real issues?  Why did Augustine resist Donatist thought?  Does Donatist spirituality and ecclesiology exist today?

Leader:  Dr. Jane Merdinger 

Friday, July 7:   The Re-establishment of Communion in Early Christianity.  

Readings:  Basil of Caesaraea, Letters 102, 242; Athanasius, Letter to Epictetus; decree of the Synod of Sardica, 343.  See also Henry Chadwick, article on healing schisms (in Tradition and Exploration?   In East and West?)

Issues: What led to breaches of communion in early Christianity? How were they generally healed? Who made - and makes - the key decisions?

Possible leader: Brian Daley, SJ.

Monday, July 10:   Primitive Christian Structures.

Readings: J. M. R. Tillard,  Church of Churches (chapters); The Bishop of Rome (chapters).

Issues:  does Tillard adapt the ancient material well to present needs?  What is missing?

Leader:  Prof. Christopher Ruddy (Catholic University of America)                                                                                                                     

Tuesday, July 11:  New Catholic Ecumenism?   Yves Congar and Vatican II.  

Readings: Divided  Christendom (chapters); After 900 Years (1959; chapters); Dialogue between   Christians (1966; chapters); Diversity and Communion (1984; chapters). Vatican II, Unitatis Redintegratio.

Issues:  How did Cougar's concern for healing divisions among the churches open the Catholic Church's way to rethinking its position?

Leader:  Prof. Joseph Komonchak (Catholic University of America; ret.)

Wednesday, July 12:  The Will towards "Full Eucharistic Communion": The Costs and the Desire.        

Readings: Lutheran-Catholic Joint Declaration on Justification (1999); US Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue: Declaration on the Way.

Issues:  How might we imagine "full Eucharistic communion" among divided church bodies?  Does it require a shared general understanding of the Church's sacramental reality?  Of the Eucharist?  Why include reference to the Eucharist at all?  Is Christian Unity, as a genuinely "reconciled diversity," really possible in Eucharistic terms? Do enough Christians really want it to let it happen?  What role does charismatic leadership play in such a process?

Leaders:  Bishop Denis Madden (USCCB); Dr. Kathryn Johnson (ELCA)

Thursday, July 13:    A Communion of Communions?  Communio Ecclesiology Today.       

Readings:  Joseph Ratzinger, Called to Communion (chapters);  CDF document, On the Church Conceived as Communion; John Zizioulas, chapters from Being as Communion (1985) and Communion and Otherness (2006).  US Orthodox-Catholic statement:  Steps Towards a Reunited  Church; The "Princeton Proposal":   One Body through the Cross.

Issues:  What possibilities for the relationship of Christian Churches are offered by the communion model in today's pluralistic world?  Is it romantically unrealistic?  How might such a body be regulated?  Need it be?

Leader:  Prof. Paul Meyendorff  (St. Vladimir’s School of Theology; ret. )

Friday, July 14:  "Reconciled Diversity":  Primacy and Communion.  

Readings:  John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint;  Walter Kasper, Harvesting the Fruits (chapters); Spiritual Ecumenism Today.

Issues:  How is substantial diversity among Christians to be reconciled?  Is the Catholic model of primacy a help or an obstacle to the unity of all Christians in faith?  Have recent efforts by the Roman Church to redefine the Papacy's role in the life of the Church made significant differences for an ecumenical reunion? Does Cardinal Kasper's recent approach differ from Pope John Paul's vision?

Leaders:  Profs. Shawn and Kristin Colberg (St. John 's University, Collegeville)