Rt. Revd. Prof. Bishop Irenei (Steenberg), BA, M.St., D.Phil. (Director; Patristics and Church History)
His Grace Bishop Irenei of Sacramento is the Institute’s Director, responsible for its development and foundation as well as its academic program. He is also the core lecturer in patristics and Church history.
Bishop Irenei, an Auxiliary Bishop of the Western American Diocese and Administrator of the Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland, is a scholar of patristics and the early Church, formerly a fellow in patristics and early Church history at the University of Oxford and sometime Chair of Theology at Leeds Trinity University in the United Kingdom. He is an active speaker and lecturer around the world on Orthodox theology and practice, and has also been heavily involved in bringing patristic study into wider access through the internet and in conference, symposium and retreat settings. He is was visiting professor in Orthodox theology at Santa Clara University, Professorial Research Fellow of Leeds Trinity (UK), and is currently a member of the Committee for Education of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, member of the Synodal Biblical and Theological Commission of the Russian Orthodox Church, Dean of Monastic Life for the Western American Dicoese (ROCOR), and Abbot of the men’s Monastery of St. Silouan of Mt. Athos in Sonora, California. Since 2017 he serves as the Secretary for Inter-Orthodox Relations of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
Professor Bishop Irenei’s scholarly work centres on patristic theology, especially anthropology (doctrines of man in salvation) in the Orthodox patristic tradition. He is particularly interested in the life and writings of the early period of the Church’s life (AD 33-451), and the way that discussions on man inform the Church’s articulation of Christological and Trinitarian doctrine. His work is marked out by a strong emphasis on the flow of the historical articulation of doctrine, and the way it informs modern theological discussions — as well as the Orthodox liturgical and spiritual traditions. He has authored numerous books and published extensively on patristic and Orthodox topics (many of his works were published before his monastic tonsure and are found under his old name: M.C. Steenberg).
He is widely known beyond academic circles through his work to bring Orthodox patristic and monastic study to a wider audience. He founded the Monachos.net web site on Orthodoxy through patristic and monastic study in 1999, which between 2000-2014 was the largest resource for such materials on the internet, containing one of the only forums on the world-wide-web dedicated to patristic and monastic discussions. In 2008 he began weekly internet radio broadcasts for Ancient Faith Radio, in a series called A Word From the Holy Fathers. These broadcasts, which focus each week on a patristic writing and its pastoral impact, are among the most listened-to podcasts on the station, and will be re-launched with a new series in 2018. Bishop Irenei served as deacon of the Russian Orthodox Parish of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Oxford, UK from 2007-2010, and in January 2010 moved to San Francisco, USA. He was ordained hieromonk in March 2010 and elevated to the rank of Archimandrite in 2011. He served in the parish of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk — one of the principal sites associated with the life of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco — before being elevated to the Holy Episcopacy in November 2016 to serve in the Western American Diocese, and from 2017 also in the British Diocese.
Significant Books, Monographs and Major Contributions:
- 2017: ‘The Art of Para-Hymnographic Assaults on Heresy from the Church Fathers to Byzantine Hymnody’, contributed chapter in forthcoming Festschrift for Professor James May (Bolchazy, 2017).
- 2016: ‘The Orthodox View of the Atonement’ in The Wood of the Cross: Atonement in the Patristic Tradition (ed. G. Dankaert; Jordanville: Holy Trinity Publications).
- 2015: ‘On the Service of the Anathemas, or, more properly, The Rite of the Triumph of Orthodoxy’, encompassing the whole issue of The Orthodox Word no. 198 (back-dated to 2014).
- 2013: The Beginnings of a Life of Prayer (Platina, CA: St Herman’s Monastery Press).
- 2012: St. Irenaeus of Lyons: Against the Heresies, Book 3 — Critical Translation and Commentary (New York: Ancient Christian Writers/Paulist Press).
- 2012: ‘Tracing the Irenaean Legacy’, principal chapter in Irenaeus: Life, Scripture, Legacy (eds. P. Parvis and S. Parvis; Augsburg Fortress).
- 2011: ‘The Gospel of Truth and the truth of the Gospel: Assessing the scope of Valentinian influence on the thought of St Irenaeus’, Studia Patristica 50.
- 2009: Of God and Man: Theology as Anthropology from Irenaeus to Athanasius (T&T Clark / Continuum, 2009).
- 2008: Irenaeus on Creation: The Cosmic Christ and the Saga of Redemption (Brill).
Continued Select Publications List:
- 2016: ‘Traditions of Orthodox Monasticism: The History of a Movement’, in Atlas of Orthodox Monasteries in America (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press).
- 2016 (forthcoming): ‘The Monk and the Friend: Friendship and the Monastic Ideal in St John Cassian and Orthodoxy’, forthcoming in published proceedings of the 3rd International Patristics Conference (Moscow, Aspirantura).
- 2016 (forthcoming): ‘Christ and Culture Intertwined: The Legacy of St Vladimir in the Russian Diaspora’ (in Russian as Христос в переплетении с культурой: наследие святого равноапостольного князя Владимира в русской диаспоре), forthcoming in the published proceedings of the International Conference on St Vladimir (Moscow, 2015).
- ‘Beauty Will Save the World’, in Spiritual Spring 2.3 (2014).
- ‘The Poverty of Christ that Makes Men Rich’, in Spiritual Spring 1.3 (2014).
- 2012: ‘The Orthodox Priest and the Love of God: A Study on the Priesthood’, Orthodox Life.
- 2011: ‘Baptism in Orthodox Christianity’, principal chapter in G.L. Heath and J.D. Dvorak (eds.), Baptism: Historical, Theological and Pastoral Perspectives (Pickwick, January 2011).
- 2011: Major articles on ‘Arianism’, ‘Eucharist’ and ‘Humanity (anthropology)’, and minor articles/entries on ‘Asceticism’, ‘Chastity’, ‘Desert Fathers and Mothers’, ‘Original Sin’, ‘Antidoron’, ‘Diakonikon’, ‘Iconoclasm’, ‘Vespers’, and ‘The Quinisext Council’ in J.A. McGuckin (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Orthodox Christianity (Wiley-Blackwells, February 2011).
- 2010: ‘Sinful nature as second nature in Tertullian of Carthage’, Studia Patristica 46, 17-19.
- 2010: ‘A Century on Prayer’, Orthodox Word 45.268.
- 2009: ‘Scripture, graphe, and the status of Hermas in Irenaeus’, St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 53.1, 29-66.
- 2009: ‘God’, chapter in The Routledge Companion to Early Christian Thought, ed. J. Bingham (Routledge).
- 2008: ‘Impatience and Humanity’s Sinful State in Tertullian of Carthage’, Vigiliae Christianae 62.107-132.
- 2008: ‘The Church’, in M. Cunningham-Corran and E. Theokritoff (eds.), Cambridge Companion to Orthodox Theology (Cambridge: The University Press).
- 2008: The Orthodox Study Bible: Septuagint Old Testament (Thomas Nelson Publishers; editor, translator, and chair of prophetical books translations).
- 2008: ‘Taking Stock of our Struggle’, Orthodox Word 44.263.
- 2007: ‘An exegesis of conformity: textual subversion of subversive texts’, in K. Cooper and J. Gregory (eds.), Discipline and Diversity (Studies in Church History, vol. 43; Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer).
- 2006: ‘Gnomic will and a challenge to the true humanity of Christ in Maximus Confessor’, Studia Patristica 42, 237-42.
- 2005: ‘Two-natured man: an anthropology of transfiguration’, Pro Ecclesia 14.4; pp. 413-432.
- 2005: ‘To test or preserve? The prohibition of Gen 2.16-17 in the thought of two second-century exegetes’ [Theophilus and Irenaeus], Gregorianum 86; pp. 723-741.
- 2004: ‘Children in Paradise: Adam and Eve as “infants” in Irenaeus of Lyons’, Journal of Early Christian Studies 12.1; pp. 1-22.
- 2004: ‘The role of Mary as co-recapitulator in St Irenaeus of Lyons’, Vigiliae Christianae58.2; pp. 117-137.
- 2003: ‘The Mother of God as mediatrix in Orthodox and Roman Catholic thought’, Sobornost, incorporating Eastern Churches Review, 26.1; pp. 6-26.
- 2003: ‘Self and the Church: A review of E. Moore’s “Defining Orthodoxy: Is it Possible?”’, Theandros: An Online Journal of Orthodox Christian Theology and Philosophy <www.theandros.com> 1/1.
- 2003: ‘Immoral fish and unchaste hyenas: Ethical readings of animals in Scripture according to the early Fathers’, Summer conference of the Orthodox Theological Research Forum, Ripon College Cuddeston.
- 2001: ‘Rediscovering Old Testament Christianity’, Again 23.3; pp. 4-11.
Public Lectures, Seminars, Conferences and Talks (Abbreviated Selection):
Many of the conference, symposium and lecture papers listed below have been published in various proceedings or other forms (in some cases, publication is forthcoming), and several were filmed or recorded for availability on-line.
- ‘The Church as Shepherd and Man as Sheep: Renewing with Mystery of the Pastoral Life’, five-part lecture series as keynote speaker for the Clergy Conference of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America at the invitation of Metropolitan Joseph, with talks on themes of ‘Spiritual Fatherhood’, ‘Confession’, ‘Liturgical Ministry’ and ‘Pastoring Children’; Alhambra, California (5-9 February 2016).
- ‘St Athanasius on the Restoration of Man’, lecture at St Tikhon’s Orthodox Humanitarian University, Moscow (28 January 2016).
- ‘Councils and Conciliarity: The Nature of the Council in Orthodox Ecclesiology’, Keynote talk given at Claremont College (12 September 2015).
- ‘Primacy and Personhood: A Response to the Recent Work of Metropolitan Elpiphodorus’, written at the commission of Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk for publication in Russian as ПЕРВЕНСТВО И ЛИЧНОСТНОСТЬ (September 2015).
- ‘«Единое на потребу» Значеніе Божественной Литургіи въ жизни монашескаго братства’, lecture given at the Nativity Readings, Monasticism section (Moscow, 22 January 2015).
- ‘Obedience, Experience, Transformation and the Confessor-Priest: A Dimension of the Legacy of St Symeon the New Theologian in Orthodox Pastoral Life’, lecture for the 2nd International Patristics Conference, Moscow (12 December 2014)
- ‘Martyrdom and the Martyr in the Formation of Patristic Self-Identity’, keynote address for the third-annual symposium of the Sts. Cyril & Athanasius Institute of Orthodox Studies, Riverside/Los Angeles (15-22 February 2014).
- ‘To Love and Not Stand Still: The Legacy of St John of San Francisco’, keynote address for the Parish Life Conference of the Antiochian Archdiocese of the USA (2 July 2013).
- ‘Catechesis and Conversion’, lecture at the Diocesan Conference of the Diocese of Sourozh, United Kingdom (1 June 2013).
- ‘Patristic Study, Asceticism and the Life of the Priest’, keynote address for the Orthodox inter-seminary Graduating Class retreat (for graduating students); together with ‘Scholarship and Instruction: The Future of Patristics Teaching in Orthodox Seminaries’, address for the inter-seminary faculty retreat (given to faculty members) at Holy Cross Seminary, Boston (26-28 September 2012).
- ‘The Zeal of the Fathers and the Apathy of the World: The Place of Patristic Study in Modern Pastoral Service’, keynote address at the Pastoral Conference of the Eastern American Diocese, Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, New York (10-14 October, 2012).
- ‘The Orthodox Priest and the Love of God: A Patristic Vision of the Priesthood’, an address for the Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement’s autumn retreat, Holy Trinity Seminary, Jordanville (November, 2011); re-delivered as a video lecture in San Francisco (June 2012), and subsequently published in Orthodox Life.
- ‘The Orthodox Approach to Mission’, keynote address at the 22nd All-Diaspora Conference, Paris (July 2011); subsequently re-delivered in San Francisco (June 2012) for video production.
- ‘Atonement in Orthodox Liturgical Theology’, opening lecture for the symposium The Wood of the Cross: Atonement in the Patristic Tradition, held at Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, organised by the Florovsky Society (11-12 February 2011); subsequently published (2016) in official proceedings by Holy Trinity Publications.
- ‘”Mysticism” in the Fathers and the Transformation of the Senses in Orthodox Christianity’, a three-part lecture series for the St Barnabas Conference, Los Angeles (November 2010); recorded and subsequently broadcast and published as a six-part radio special (December 2010).
- ‘The Fathers’ Voice to Modern Man: Probing the Relevance of the Church Fathers for the Twenty-First Century’, lecture and series of workshops for the Assembly of the Diocese of the South, Orthodox Church in America (19-23 July 2010). Among these lectures were included talks on the Fathers and depression, the fathers and spiritual struggle, etc.
- ‘The Life and Legacy of St Basil the Great’, two-part lecture on the life and theological legacy of St Basil, given at St Basil’s Greek Orthodox Church for a pan-Orthodox event, San Jose, CA (January 2010)
- ‘Clinging to Heaven: Mount Athos and the Heights of Spirituality’, paper given to the Leeds Trinity Eastern Christian Studies Seminar (2 December 2009).
- ‘Mobs, Murders, and Other “Christian Virtues”: Kingsley’s Hypatia and the Influence of Popular Literature on the Christian Heritage’, paper given to the Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies (2 November 2009).
- ‘The Gospel of Truth and the truth of the Gospel: The influence of the Valentinian tract on Irenaeus’, paper at the National Patristics Conference, Cambridge (10 September 2009).
- ‘Tracing the Irenaean Legacy’, paper delivered at the Edinburgh conference on St Irenaeus of Lyons (28 August 2009).
- ‘Creation and evolution: what really matters? The testimony of St Basil’s Hexaemeron’, keynote paper at the Summer Conference of the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius (10 August 2009).
- ‘How to mock a heretic: Methods of subversion in Byzantine religious disputes’, International Medieval Congress, Leeds, UK (14 July 2009).
- ‘The legacy of St Paul in Orthodox Spirituality’, Salford Lectures on the Pauline Year, Manchester (23 April 2009).
- ‘Conversion and “relationship” in the heritage of St Paul’, Pauline Heritage seminar series celebrating the Papal Year of St Paul (Leeds, 21 January 2009).
- ‘Fallen man or exiled son? Voices from earliest Christianity on ‘original sin’ in the twenty-first century’, Inaugural Professorial Lecture, Leeds Trinity University College (31 October 2008).
- ‘Prayer in the Christian Desert’; ‘ “Like us” and “Like them”: prayer within and without defined Christian communities of the first and second centuries ad’; and ‘Early patristic commentaries on the Lord’s Prayer’—three lectures as Visiting Lecturer, Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies, University of Cambridge (17-18 October, 2008).
- Workshop at the international conference Mother Churches: Rome, Constantinople, Canterbury, Crestwood NY, USA (6-9 June 2008).
- ‘The city a desert: the prayer of the Desert Fathers in modern Orthodox theology’: paper for the Sourozh Conference, Pray Without Ceasing… (23-26 May 2008).
- ‘The sermon and the chalice: St John Chrysostom on the Word of God and the Eucharist’, lecture at the Ampleforth Conference on St John (November 2007).
- ‘Sinful nature in Tertullian’, paper delivered at the International Conference on Patristic Studies (Oxford).
- ‘What the “Gnostics” did for the world: a new look at orthodoxy and heresy in dialogue’, public seminar given to the Oxford Theological Society (October, 2006).
- ‘Satire and parody in early Christianity’, Oxford Patristics Seminar (2005).
- ‘Christology from Nicaea to Chalcedon’, nine-part core lecture series in patristic theology for the Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford (Hilary, 2005).
- ‘Ancient Gnosticism and the modern New-Age movement’, and ‘An historical primer on Church/State relations’, both at IOCS, University of Cambridge (December 2004).
- ‘Is the west more eastern than the east?’, Oxford Eastern Christian Studies Seminar (October 2004).
- ‘Two-natured man: an anthropology of transfiguration’, Summer Conference of the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius (Aylesford: August 2004).
- ‘Asceticism and sanctity’, three-part lecture series for the Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies, University of Cambridge (June 2004; repeated 2006), comprising lectures on ‘The Egyptian desert and early monasticism’; ‘Athonite and Byzantine monastic practice’; and ‘Asceticism in the contemporary Eastern context’.
- ‘Mount Athos and early monasticism: continuity and change’, Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius, Oxford Branch (May 2003).