Research and Scholarship

several open books in grass

Full Time Faculty

Chris Barnett

Christopher B. Barnett received his Doctor of Philosophy in Theology from the University of Oxford. Broadly speaking, he is interested in modern theology and philosophy, while areas of concentration include Kierkegaard and existentialism, Christian Spirituality, theology and the arts (especially film), the philosophy of technology, and the rise of atheism in (post)modernity. In addition to several articles and book chapters, he has published three books: Kierkegaard, Pietism and Holiness (2011), From Despair to Faith: The Spirituality of Søren Kierkegaard (2014), and Theology and the Films of Terrence Malick (coedited with Clark J. Elliston, 2016). He is currently working on a number of book-length projects, including Scorsese as Theologian and Kierkegaard and the Question Concerning Technology.

Gerald Beyer

Gerald J. Beyer is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Villanova University and Associate Editor of Horizons: The Journal of the College Theology Society.  His research explores the theoretical underpinnings of the Catholic social tradition and applies them to issues such as economic justice, human rights and workers’ rights, political responsibility, racism and corporatized higher education.  His publications include Recovering Solidarity: Lessons from Poland’s Unfinished Revolution (Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 2010) and numerous articles in journals and popular outlets.  Beyer also co-edited and contributed a chapter to the critical edition of Karol Wojtyła, Katolicka etyka społeczna (Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL, 2018).  His forthcoming book is tentaively titled Solidarity or Status Quo? Catholic Social Teaching and Higher Education in the Age of the Corporatized University (Fordham University Press). 

Beyer is Chair of the PA American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Catholic Caucus, Vice President of the Villanova AAUP Chapter, and Executive Committee member of Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice.  


Timothy Brunk

Dr. Timothy Brunk's field is sacramental / liturgical theology and he am interested in particular in the connection between worship and ethics, i.e., how sacramental practice does or does not form believers to be virtuous.  His research currently focuses on the challenges posed to authentic sacramental practice by a culture permeated by consumerism.  This focus is part of a larger interest in liturgy and culture.

Read Dr. Timothy Brunk articles on Pray Tell


Francis Caponi is interested in the perduring value of Thomistic approaches to theological themes, especially Christology, eschatology, aesthetics, and Scriptural hermeneutics. He has essays on Thomas Aquinas’ understanding of mercy and justice, and his Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, upcoming in The Journal of Religion and The Journal of Theological Interpretation. His recent course offerings include “Angels and Demons,” “Mary and the Saints,” and a class on the work of C.S. Lewis. He is preparing a course on lesser known Catholic classics of the 20th century, including works by Ronald Knox, Romano Guardini, Henri de Lubac, and Hilaire Belloc.


Paul Danove

Dr. Paul L. Danove earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics (1974), Master of Divinity (1986), Licentiate in Sacred Theology (1990), and Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies (1991). His published research is in the semantic study of the Greek of the Septuagint and New Testament and in the narrative and rhetorical study of the text of the Gospel of Mark.


Villanova University selects Theology and Religious Studes Professor for 2017 Outstanding Faculty Research Award

Ilia Delio

Ilia Delio, OSF, a Franciscan Sister of Washington, D.C. holds the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova Universe.  Her area of research is Science and Religion with interests in artificial intelligence, evolution, quantum physics and the import of these for religion and culture. She holds a doctorate in Pharmacology from Rutgers University-  Biomedical and Health Sciences and a doctorate in Historical Theology from Fordham University.  She is the author of eighteen books and numerous articles.  Her recent books include Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology and Consciousness and The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution and the Power of Love, for which she won the 2014 Silver Nautilus Book Award.  Her latest book A Hunger for Wholeness:  Soul, Space and Transcendence will be published by Paulist Press (2018).  

Villanova Faculty Expert Page

Massimo Faggioli

Massimo Faggioli, PhD is a leading authority on the history and administrative inner workings of the Catholic Church with specific expertise in the papacy, Vatican II, the Roman Curia, liturgical reform, new Catholic movements and on Catholicism and global politics. Frequently featured in the national and international media, Faggioli can comment on a diversity of theological, religious and Church-related issues ranging from the historical to the contemporary.

Recent works include:

Catholicism and Citizenship: Political Cultures of the Church in the Twenty-First Centrury, March 2017 (available here)

A Council for the Global Church: Receving Vatican II in History May 2015 (available here)


Villanova Faculty Experts Page

Fr. Allan Fitzgerald

Born in Washington, DC and educated by the Augustinians at Archbishop Carroll High School, Dr. Allan Fitzgerald entered the Order of Saint Augustine after his first year at Villanova University (1960). Hi studied in Rome (1964-1968) and Paris (1968-1972), writing a doctoral thesis on penance in the 4th and 5th centuries in the Italian church.

Dr. Allan Fitzgerald taught in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies from 1972-1997, and became the editor of Augustinian Studies in 1990, the only English language journal devoted entirely to Augustine’s thought and influence. He edited an encyclopedia of Saint Augustine (Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia), published in 1999. He taught at the Augustinian Patristic Institute in Rome (1997-2009) and returned to Villanova as the director of the Augustinian Institute, a position that became a full-time position in 2011.


Anthony Godzieba

Anthony J. Godzieba specializes in fundamental and systematic theology, especially the theology of God, Christology, theological anthropology, philosophical theology, and the intersection of theology and culture.  His is the author of Bernhard Welte’s Fundamental Theological Approach to Christology (1994) and A Theology of the Presence and Absence of God (2018), and most recently co-editor (with Brad Hinze) of Beyond Dogmatism and Innocence: Hermeneutic, Critique, and Catholic Theology (2017).  He is currently writing on embodiment at the intersection of art, music, theology, and spirituality in early modern Catholicism, as well as a "short but necessary" treatise on theological method.

Mark Graham

Mark Graham is Associate Professor of Theological Ethics and the Director of the Undergraduate Program.  He foscus his research into Christian environmental ethics and Catholic fundamental moral theology, and is currently writing on Thomas Berry’s cosmology and its implications for Christian ethics.  

Brett Grainger

Dr. Brett Grainger specializes in the study of early modern Christian spirituality, especially Protestant and Catholic forms of "heart religion." Grainger's forthcoming book, Springs of Enchantment: Everyday Religion in Antebellum America (Harvard University Press, 2019), traces the ways in which nineteenth-century evangelicals engaged and enlisted the spiritual potential of the natural world though religious practice. Grainger offers courses in the history of Christianity and American religions more broadly, with a special focus on the changing face of contemporary spirituality, including metaphysical religion and the "spiritual but not religious" movement.

Kathleen Grimes

Dr. Kathleen Grimes is a solid source for discussions about Christian ethics and their bearing on issues such as racism, white supremacy, sex and gender, and the environment. She can talk about how these and other issues have been handled historically and how they are being approached currently in the Church, as well as by society at large. Dr. Grimes can also speak about liberation theology, natural law and virtue theory.

Recent works include:

Christ Devided: Antiblackness as Corporate Vice, Nov 2017 (available here)

Fugitive Saints: Catholicism and the Politics of Slavery, April 2017 (available here)

Villanova Faculty Expert Page


Timothy Hanchin

Timothy Hanchin is assistant professor of religious and theological education. His research interests include the philosophy of education, theological pedagogy, education and hermeneutics, and Trinitarian theology. His writing addresses the mission and identity of Catholic higher education today. He regularly engages the generative work of Bernard Lonergan, S.J. Dr. Hanchin is director of the Heart of Teaching. The Heart of Teaching is a pedagogical formation program that is integral to graduate studies in theology at Villanova. Dr. Hanchin received his PhD in theology and education from Boston College and Master of Divinity from Harvard University. 

Dr. Kevin Hughes

Dr. Kevin Hughes specialties include Medieval and Early Modern Theology and Culture and Historical Theology. Dr. Hughes is the author of Constructing Antichrist: Paul, Biblical Commentary, and the Development of Doctrine in the Early Middle Ages and Church History: Faith Handed On, along with articles appearing in journals such as Modern TheologyTheological StudiesFranciscan Studies, and the Heythrop Journal. He is currently working on a book on Saint Bonaventure’s Collationes in Hexaëmeron.

Shams C. Inati is a professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies, and the Department of Philosophy at Villanova University. She has authored many works and has translated and analyzed numerous Arabic philosophical texts, with an emphasis on Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and other medieval Islamic thinkers. Much of her work focuses on the problem of evil, metaphysics, and historical dilemmas in the Middle East. The Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies praised her "scholarly, well researched and well analysed commentary" on Ibn Sina. Her work has also been cited or reviewed in the Middle East Journal, The Journal of Religion, the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, and the Journal of Semitic Studies.

Dr. Jennifer Jackson

Jennifer Constantine Jackson is Director of the Master’s Programs for the Theology and Religious Studies Department at Villanova. She earned her M.A. in English from Bridgewater State University, M.T.S. from Weston Jesuit School of Theology, and Th.D. from Regis College and the University of Toronto. Her focus areas are theological anthropology, rhetorical theology and the life and thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. She is dedicated to interdisciplinary collaboration in the growing field of friendship studies, and her publications include Conversation, Friendship and Transformation: Contemporary and Medieval Voices in a Theology of Discourse (2017). Her work seeks to promote research, education and practices focused on the nature and role of friendship in personal, social, cultural, political, cosmic and religious life through critical scholarship across methodologies that include but are not limited to pedagogical, ethical, aesthetic, and spiritual approaches, and within and across the natural and social sciences, humanities, fine and performing arts, and applied and professional fields

Stefanie Knauss

Stefanie Knauss joined Villanova University in 2013. She works at the boundary of foundational theology and the study of religions, with particular interest in the relationship between theology and culture, the role of body in religions, and the contribution of gender studies and queer theory to theological reflection. Her publications include More than a Provocation: Sexuality, Media and Theology (2014) and the co-edited (with A.-K. Höpflinger and A.D. Ornella) volume Commun(icat)ing Bodies: Body as a Medium in Religious Symbol Systems (2014). She is a member of the editorial boards of Concilium: International Journal of Theology and of the Journal for Religion, Film and Media.

Fr. Martin Laird’s research and writings focus on Early Christianity, especially St. Gregory of Nyssa.  In addition to this he publishes and speaks widely on early monastic writings, especially Evagrius Ponticus and the Philokalia, in order to establish dialogue with between ancient faith traditions and contemporary culture, especially on the topic of contemplation.


Christy Lang Hearlson

Christy Lang Hearlson is a practical theologian with an emphasis in religious and theological education. Trained at Princeton Theological Seminary, she is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and previously served The Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. Her areas of scholarly interest are holistic and experiential pedagogies, attention, memory, imagination, and wonder, the doctrine of the incarnation and its implications for teaching and learning, and spiritual formation of children and youth in both Christian communities and consumer culture. She has written church-based curriculum for several national publishers and is the co-editor of How Youth Ministry Can Change Theological Education--If We Let It (Eerdmans, 2016). She is currently working on a book about biblical literacy and a project about attention, wonder, and practical theology.

Vincent Lloyd

Vincent Lloyd’s research focuses on the intersection of religion, race, and politics, using the tools of critical theory. He has written on political theology, African American religious and political thought, philosophy of religion, and mass incarceration. Lloyd is currently working on research projects concerning the concepts of dignity and hope, foregrounding perspectives from marginalized communities, as well as a project on the relationship between divine and human fatherhood in African American culture. He is in the early stages of a new, collaborative project with Villanova philosophy professor Delia Popa on race and phenomenology.

Recent works include:

Religion of Feild Negro: On Black Secularism and Black Theology; November 2017

Black Natural Law; June 2016

Villanova Faculty Expert Page

Fr. Joseph Loya

Fr. Loya researches and publishes in the following areas: The history of Eastern Christian (Byzantine) faith, order and church life; Christian Ecumenism; Inter-religious Dialogue. Praxically, Fr. Loya has served multiple terms on the executive boards of the North American Academy of Ecumenists, Christians Associated for Relations with Eastern Europe, Orientale Lumen Foundation, Regional Chair for Eastern Catholic Churches for the Catholic Association of Diocesan and Inter-religious Ecumenical Officers, and the “Christian World Community and the Cold War” North American Study Group. He also is the Editor for Christian Resources for the Journal of Ecumenical Studies and the Director of Villanova’s Russian Area Studies Program.

Rachel Smith

Dr. Jessica M. Murdoch is Associate Professor of Fundamental and Dogmatic Theology at Villanova University. She specializes in the philosophy and theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, metaphysics and epistemology, papal teaching, and matters concerning women, marriage and the family from a Catholic perspective. Prior to her tenure at Villanova, she was an Assistant Professor in the Program of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame. She currently serves the Church on the Executive Board of the National Advisory Council of the USCCB, on the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council in Philadelphia, and as a catechist at Sacred Heart Parish in Royersford, PA.

Bernard P. Prusak is Professor for Historical and Systematic Theology. He studied at the Gregorian University, the Lateran University, and the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of St. Anselm in Rome. His areas of research and teaching are historical and systematic theology, with emphasis on Christology and the Church as well as special interest in the Second Vatican Council. His publications include: The Church Unfinished: Ecclesiology through the Centuries (Paulist Press, 2004); "Explaining Eucharistic 'Real Presence: 'Moving beyond a Medieval Conundrum”: Theological Studies 75 (2014); “Liturgy as Essential Lynchpin for a Hermeneutic of Vatican II,” Louvain Studies 38 (2014); and “Vatican I: Papal Primacy within a Juridical Model of Church,” in vol. 2 of Primacy in the Church: The Office of Primate and the Authority of Councils, (St. Vladimir’s Press, 2016).

Kerry San Chirico

Born and raised in Monterey, California, Dr. San Chirico holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Santa Clara University, and Masters degrees from Princeton Seminary, Rutgers University, St. Vladimir’s Seminary, and Boston College. He earned his doctorate in South Asian religions from UC Santa Barbara in 2012. With expertise in Indian religions and Global Christianities, his scholarly interests also include South Asian bhakti, vernacular Hinduism, comparative theology, and theory and method in the study of religion. Most recent publications include the co-edited volume Hagiography in Abrahamic and Dharmic Traditions (Bloomsbury, 2016) and “Between Christian and Hindu: Khrist Bhaktas, Catholics, and the Negotiation of Devotion in the Banaras Region” in Constructing Indian Christianity (Routledge India, 2015). He is President of the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies.

Rachel Smith

Dr. Rachel J. D. Smith received her PhD from Harvard University in 2012. She specializes in the study of western medieval Christianity with a focus on monasticism, mysticism, hagiography, and theologies of sanctity. Her work explores the relationship between literary art and theological discourse, theory and practice, as well as questions of gender and representation in medieval texts.


Peter Spitaler

Dr. Spitaler currently serves as Chair of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. His field of research expertize is New Testament studies. Teaching interests include the whole range of New Testament literature, New Testament ethics and spirituality, and biblical theology. Dr. Spitaler earned the Doctorate in Theology from the University of Munich, Germany. His educational background also includes two bachelor’s degrees: one in Philosophy from the Salesian University in Rome, Italy, and the other in Social Work from the University of Applied Sciences in Munich, Germany. He also has a master’s degree in Theology from the Salesian University at Benediktbeuern, Bavaria, Germany. Before he became a college professor, Dr. Spitaler worked as a resident assistant in a boarding house for young workers in Austria. He also worked for several years as a youth minister and as a pastoral assistant in parishes in Germany and in Austria. Before he moved to the United States to take up his current position at Villanova, he taught religion for seven years at a private trade school for young adults with learning disabilities.


Carey Walsh

Carey Walsh received an M.Div from Yale University and a Th.d in Old Testament from Harvard University. Her research areas include Wisdom Literature, Biblical Theology, Trauma Theory and Biblical Narrative, Iron Age Social History, the Bible and the Environment, and Spiritual Character Development in Biblical Narrative. Her publications include: Chasing Mystery: A Catholic Biblical Theology; Exquisite Desire: Religion, the Erotic, and the Song of Songs, and The Fruit of the Vine: Viticulture in Ancient Israel, in addition to numerous articles, most recently, "The Beasts of Wisdom: Ecological Hermeneutics of the Wild" (Biblical Interpretation).  She is currently working on a book on biblical grace. 

Jonathan Yates

Dr. Yates is a specialist in ancient Christian thought. He researches ancient Latin Christianity and is particularly interested in how ancient North African Christianity understood and applied its sacred texts both to its developing theological outlook and to its day-to-day practice. He has published on texts/authors as diverse as the Latin martyriological acta, Tertullian, Cyprian, Pseudo-Cyrpian, and Fulgentius, but he continues to spend the majority of his time on Augustine and how he read and applied the New Testament in his sermons and in his (later) theological and polemical works.

Affiliate Faculty

Kathryn Getek Soltis

Kathryn Getek Soltis is director of the Center for Peace and Justice Education and assistant professor of Christian Ethics in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University.  She received both a License in Sacred Theology and a Masters in Theological Studies from Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, MA.  In 2010, she received her Ph.D. in Theological Ethics from Boston College.  Prior to her theological studies, she served with the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry and graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University with an undergraduate degree in molecular biology.  Kathryn was the lay Catholic chaplain for several years in a house of correction in Boston and currently leads communion services in the Philadelphia Prison System.  Her academic research focuses on issues of justice and punishment, mass incarceration, family ethics, and Catholic Social Teaching.  She has published articles in the Journal of Catholic Social Thought and the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, and she co-edited the volume, Virtue and the Moral Life: Theological and Philosophical Perspectives (Lexington Books, 2014).  

Visiting Faculty

Yasemin Akis

Yasemin Akış Yaman completed her PhD at Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University, Turkey. Her PhD thesis, "The Concept of Anxiety in Soren Kierkegaard", was published by Ayrıntı Publishing in 2015. Her research interests lie in the area of existentialism. She has several articles about the philosophy of Albert Camus, Soren Kierkegaard, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Rumi. Currently, she is visiting faculty in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University. Dr. Akış Yaman's current project's title is "Becoming a self in the Thought of Søren Kierkegaard and The Sufis." The primary purpose of the project is to examine the existential analysis of the development of the self in the thought of Sufis and Kierkegaard. This comparative study will show the similarities between two different approaches which belong to the different tradition of thought, ages, and religions.

Sudhakshina Rangaswami

Dr. Rangaswami earned her PhD. at the Ananthacharya Indological Research Institute, University of Bombay in  Mumbai, India. She is a visiting faculty member that previously taught at the University of Bombay. She has published over 2,200 articles in The Hindu  and is a published author, "The Roots of Vedānta – Selections from Śaṅkara’s Writings". She continues her work in Hindu philosophy & theology as well as journalism. 

John D. Caputo

John D. Caputo, the Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion Emeritus (Syracuse University) and the David R. Cook Professor of Philosophy Emeritus (Villanova University) is a constructive theologian who has spearheaded a notion he calls “weak theology,” by which he means a “poetics” of the “event” that is harbored in the name (of) God, or that “insists” in the name (of) “God,” which depends upon a reworking of the concepts of the event in Derrida to theological ends. In his majors works he has argued that interpretation goes all the way down (Radical Hermeneutics, 1987), that Derrida is a thinker to be reckoned with by theology (The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida, 1997), that theology is best served by getting over its love affair with power and authority and embracing what Caputo calls, taking a phrase from St. Paul, The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event, 2006), which won the American Academy of Religion award for excellence in the category of constructive theology. Just this year he published a new book entitled Hermeneutics: Facts and Interpretation in the Age of Information (Penguin/Pelican, 2018) and a second edition of On Religion. Keith Putt has edited The Essential Caputo (Indiana UP, 2018) a collection of his work from the early 1970s to the present. His latest book Cross and Cosmos: A Theology of Difficult Glory is forthcoming from Indiana UP in 2019. Since retiring in 2011, he has also been speaking to various church and community groups interested in a more progressive concept of religion, and addressing more general audiences in books like What Would Jesus Deconstruct? (2006), and Hoping against Hope: Confessions of a Postmodern Pilgrim (2015).