Study Group Relationship Judaism Christianity

Research Centre for the Study of Early Christianity

Diakonia and the Diaconate in Early Christianity

Prof. dr. Bart J. Koet (TST)

Dr. Arnold Smeets (TST)

Affiliated researchers:

- Dr. Pauliina Pylvänäinen ( University of Eastern Finland)
- Dr. Esko Ryökäs (University of Eastern Finland)
- Dr. Edwina Murphy (Morling College, 
Sydney)

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 are not just responsible for caritas. They fulfil an important role in the network of Christian communities and as assistant-leaders.
A next step in this new research was a conference organized by the Pontifical Patristic Institute Augustinianum and the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology. The proceedings are published in Diakonia, diaconiae, diaconato: Semantica e Storia nei Padri della chiese edited by V. Grossi, B.J. Koet, P.J.J. van Geest(Rome, 2010).

The Tilburg School of Catholic Theology participates in the international and ecumenical congresses organized since 2014 by the School of Theology (University of Eastern Finland). These conferences focus on relevant aspects in study of diakonia, deacons and deaconesses in Late Antique Christianity.

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, Edwina Murphy (Tübingen, 2018).

In 2022 a second volume on deacons and diakonia in Early Christianity is scheduled.

During the XVIII. International Conference on Patristic Studies Oxford in August  2019  prof. dr. Bart Koet en prof. dr. Paul van Geest hosted the workshop Deacons and diakonia. New Perspectives on the Function and Impact of Deacons in the Early Church  with contributions by  Koet and by dr. Edwina Murphy (Morling College, Sydney), dr. Pauliina Pylvänäinen (University of Eastern Finland) and dr. Arnold Smeets (TST). The papers will be published in Studia Patristica. The introduction to the workshop is available in open access.


Prof. dr. Bart J. Koet works on Jerome and Augustin. See Research Portal.

Dr. Arnold Smeets works on Gregory the Great as deacon of Rome. See Research Portal.

Dr. Pauliina Pylvänäinen works on male and female deacons in the Apostolic Constitutions. See Research Page.

Dr. Esko Ryökäs  works on the diaconate in Late Antique and modern and current contexts. See  Research Page.

Dr. Edwina Murphy works on deacons and the diaconate in the Early Church and on Cyprian. See Research Page.


See the tab 'activities' for earlier seminars and symposia organised, including links to watch recorded presentations.