Centre for the Study of Early Christianity

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 directors are Dr. Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte (VU) and Dr. Bart Koet (TST).

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 two series of online seminars in February and May 2021. To watch the presentations, please click

Presbyters in Early Christianity

In September 2022 a series of three online seminars is planned on the role and position of presbyters as leaders of Early Christian communities.

The seminars will be held on September 15, 16 and 17. Program to be announced. Program

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