Centrum voor Patristisch Onderzoek

The CPO (Centrum voor Patristisch Onderzoek) is a Dutch network of scholars in patristics and late antiquity.

The research institute is supported by the Faculty of Religion and Theology (FRT) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology. 

The research institute was founded in 2008 on the initiative of Dr. Paul van Geest (TST), who was its first director. In the period 2019-2022, the directors were Dr. Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte (VU) and Dr. Bart Koet (TST).

SInce 2023 Dr. Nienke M. Vos (VU) is the acting director.

In 2008-2022 the Center focused on a research program Mystagogy.

(See in the menu: Publications).

From 2014 members of the Center participate in an international research program on the diaconate in the Early Church (director Dr. Bart Koet).

(See below & in the menu: Activities)

In 2023 the Center starts a new research program Being Human.

Leadership and Shared-Leadership in Late Antique Christianity

Deacons and the Diaconate in Early Christianity

John N. Collins’ seminal work Diakonia: Re-interpreting the Ancient Sources (New York, 1990) provided the impulse for new research into the role and relevance of deacons and deaconesses in the developing Christian Church. Deacons and deaconesses were not just responsible for caritas. They fulfilled an important role both in the network of Christian communities and as assistant-leaders.

Since 2014 the School of Theology (University of Eastern Finland) regularly organizes international and ecumenical research conferences.

The proceedings of the last conference are published in Deacons and Diakonia in Early Christianity: the First Two Centuries edited by Bart J. Koet, Esko Ryökäs, and Edwina Murphy (Tübingen, 2018).

In 2022 the editors hope to publish a second volume on deacons and diakonia in Early Christianity.

Online Seminars

As a follow-up to the 2020 zoom-seminars What Did Deacons Do?, the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology facilitated several series and 'stand alone' webinars on topic on deacons, leadership in the Early Church and on Late Antique Christianity.

You can watch the presentations

Research in Patristic Studies in the 21st Century

In the AIEP-IAPS program Research in Patristic Studies in the 21st century: Challenges, Possibilities and New Methods prof. dr. P.J.J. van Geest, (Full Professor of Economy and Theological Thought, Erasmus University Rotterdam; Full Professor of Church History and History of Theology, Tilburg University) presents his lecture entitled: “From homo economicus to homo dignus. Values and the indispensability of patristics for economics, even after the Enlightenment”.

Watch the video

See our activities for earlier seminars and symposia and the links to watch the presentations.