Surrounded by Scripture: The Depiction of the Bible in Ancient Churches of Cyprus

Sundays September 10 & 17


Set in the Troodos Mountains of Cyprus are nine small churches and a monastery, within which the walls are covered with painted murals. The churches together have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. But far beyond being examples of cultural heritage, the paintings are a witness to the Gospel and the faith of the Orthodox believers from the 11th century to the 16th century. In July Marilyn Melzian was part of a team that created spherical panoramas of these churches. In these two classes we will concentrate on the paintings that show biblical scenes, particularly from the Gospels. What was the theology behind the style of the painting? What scenes are repeatedly depicted? What is the symbolism that is used in the paintings? How does it affect worship to be surrounded by visual scriptures? These and other questions will be explored, and we will together enjoy the beauty of these ancient paintings.

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Dr. Marilyn Melzian is a member of St. Peter's and is one of the elders for Adult Spiritual Growth. She is Affiliate Associate Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and Associate Director of West Semitic Research. She holds an M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Old Testament from Claremont Graduate University.

History, Theology and Legacy of the European Reformation  - Happy 500th Year Birthday!

Sundays September 24-October 29


In observance of the 500th birthday of the European Reformation, which according to tradition is 31 October 1517. It is then that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg, largely protesting against the practice of selling indulgences. This act thereafter led to the unprecedented fragmentation of Western Christianity. In this series of lectures, we will discuss the historical background and underlying reasons (e.g., the rise of proto-nation states and the middle class; the printing press; ad fontes [return to Greek and Latin sources]) for the European Reformation, compare and contrast theologies and spiritualities of the sixteenth century (e.g., scripture and tradition; divine grace and works; the Virgin Mary; the Eucharist) from varied traditions (e.g., Roman Catholicism; Lutheranism; Calvinism and Anglicanism) and reflect upon its relevance for today (e.g., ecumenism; global Christianity).

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Rev. Dr. Matthew J. Pereira serves as a post-doctoral faculty fellow in the Dept. of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, where he teaches courses on the History of Christianity; Faith, Culture & Spirituality; and Sex, Sexuality, Gender & the Body. His research interests span from Late Antiquity to the European Reformation. His current project is on John Maxentius and the Scythian monks, a cohort of sixth century ascetics who flourished at the borderlands, where they received and coalesced diverse theological traditions into a deeper conversation. He is a teaching elder in the PCUSA. Matt and his wife Heather are part of the St. Peter’s community.