With its theme this year of “Family, Marriage and Love in Eastern Orthodox Perspective,” the Fifth Annual Sophia Institute Conference was held on December 7, 2012 at the Union Theological Seminary campus. Included among the academic papers presented was “Anna Komnene’s Alexiad: Legacy from the Good Daughter (Kale Thugater)” by GTS alumna V.K. McCarty (MA ’11) who serves as the Acquisitions Librarian for the Christoph Keller, Jr. Library. The article examines the 12th C Byzantine historian’s biography of her father, Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, for its reflection of family relationships and dynamics. “We had a wonderful forum of scholars this year from different schools and denominations,” reported McCarty. The all-day conference featured eminent keynote speakers, an offering of Byzantine Vespers chants, and a festive dinner. “One of the joys of participating in the Sophia Conference each year,” she said, “is getting to see the newly published proceedings volume from the papers presented last year.” These books are available in the Keller Library collection; Volume One includes an article by Library Director, Drew Kadel.
The new publication from last year’s conference focuses on “Beauty in Eastern Orthodox Christianity” and is divided into two volumes. Of particular interest to Episcopalians, one of the pieces published examines the Romanian crucifix suspended over the High Altar at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. An article by V.K. McCarty presented at the conference on Beauty was described by Archbishop Rowan Williams as “full of insight as well as learning;” here is a link to it.
At the annual luncheon meeting of the Fellows of Sophia Institute focusing on its future, the theme of “Monasticism and Asceticism in Eastern Orthodoxy” was suggested for next year’s conference which is scheduled to be held on Friday, December 6, 2013. Scholars within the General Seminary community are encouraged to submit papers for the upcoming conference and to join the Sophia Institute Fellows.