Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2012


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Fr. Radu Bordeianu

Committee Member

George Worgul

Committee Member

Bogdan Bucur


Doctrinal development, Dogmatic, Georges Florovsky, John Henry Newman, Orthodox, Tradition


This dissertation examines the idea of doctrinal development in the writings of John Henry Newman and Georges Florovsky, who are both representative thinkers in their respective Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions. Newman's theory of doctrinal development proposes that divine revelation has been given once and for all, but that the Church is still growing in its understanding of this revelation. This growth sometimes results in new doctrinal definitions, which require confirmation of their truth by an infallible authority. The essence of Newman's theory has been received as compatible with Roman Catholic theology, and constitutes a hermeneutical lens through which Roman Catholics view the categories of revelation, Tradition, and authority. On the contrary, many leading Orthodox theologians of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have expressed serious reservations about the idea of doctrinal development, leading one to wonder if there are some unexamined hermeneutical disagreements between Roman Catholics and Orthodox on these categories.

In order to respond to these Orthodox reservations, I constructed the dissertation as a dialogue between Newman and Florovsky on doctrinal development. More specifically, I arranged the dissertation as a dialogue between Newman and Florovsky on their understandings of revelation, Tradition, and authority--categories implied in the idea of doctrinal development. The first goal of the dissertation is to show that Newman's theory of doctrinal development is in fact compatible with Orthodox understandings of revelation and Tradition. The understanding of authority in Newman's theory does not currently share this compatibility, but dialogue does offer the opportunity for mutual enrichment of Newman's and Florovsky's thought on this category. A second goal is to expose Newman's theory to Orthodox categories of thought in the hopes of further developing Newman's theory itself. One of the principal developments that results from this exposure is the clarification that Newman's theory is a function of the incarnational character of his theology. Showing that the affirmation of doctrinal development follows from an incarnational, or Christocentric, theology represents the third and final goal of this dissertation.