Valerie Karras, Th.D., Ph.D.

This biography was published in the St. Nina Quarterly, Volume 1, No. 1.

Valerie Karras, Th.D.

Valerie Karras

Valerie Karras has always been interested in theology. After receiving a B.A. in Political Science from Washington University, she completed a Master's of Theological Studies at Holy Cross School of Theology and Th.D. in Greek patristics from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. She is currently a doctoral candidate in church history at the Catholic University of America, where she expects to complete her dissertation in December 1997. She has returned to two of her alma maters to teach courses in such areas as Byzantine history, Church history, and women's roles in ancient Greece and Rome, first as an adjunct lecturer at Washington University and then as an assistant professor at Holy Cross.

"As an Orthodox woman, my spiritual and liturgical life in the Church is an important part, perhaps the most important part, of who I am," remarks Valerie. "And, as a church historian and theologian, the lives and experiences of generations of women in the Church are important to me. At Holy Cross, I taught a course on gender issues in the Orthodox Church. We looked at various historical, anthropological, and theological aspects of men and women, their relationships with each other, and their participation in the life of the church.

"Much of my research has been in gender studies. In my dissertation for the Aristotle University of Thessaloniski, I studied the Greek Fathers' interpretations of the creation of man and woman in Genesis and what that meant to them about the nature of sex and gender. I am currently working on my Catholic University dissertation, 'The Liturgical Participation of Women in the Byzantine Church,' in which I examine issues such as menstruation, childbirth, and the position and function of the deaconess."

Valerie's articles and translations have appeared in numerous journals, including the Greek Orthodox Theological Review, and in the book Holy Women of Byzantium: Ten Saints' Lives in English Translation. She has participated in several ecumenical conferences organized by the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches and is currently Assistant Director for Institutional Planning and Special Projects at Hellenic College and Holy Cross.

Music is Valerie's avocation. She has been active in church choirs since the age of fifteen, serving variously as singer, choir director, and organist. She was a member of the executive board of the Chicago Diocese Choir Federation and is involved in the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians. She studied chant with Eleftherios Georgiades, former second chanter at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, under whose tutelage she received a diploma in Byzantine music from the Ministry of Culture in Greece.

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