A second-year M.Div. student, Jacob Drake, has been chosen to present a paper at the Oxford University Byzantine Society International Graduate Conference  held in Oxford, England, Feb. 28 – March 1.
The multidisciplinary conference, which will focus this year on “The City and the Cities: From Constantinopole to the Frontier,” drew more than one hundred submissions from around the world, and accepted only 24. In addition to theology, papers will address Byzantine history, archaeology, art history, literature, and philology.
Drake’s paper, “A Byzantine Theologian’s Struggle Against Political Intrigue: Gregory of Nazianzus,” examines the life and theology of Gregory of Nazianzus, whom he calls his “favorite character from church history.” Drake highlights Nazianzus's political innocence and his defense of orthodox faith in the face of the ecclesial-political intrigues of his time.
Drake credits Meredith Riedel, assistant professor of the history of Christianity, with encouraging him to submit a paper. Riedel, who received her doctorate from the University of Oxford, was president of the school’s Byzantine Society from 2006 to 2008.
"It's a great honor," she said. "It's the first time there's ever been a Duke student speaking at the conference, and in fact we rarely have students from North America. I'm really chuffed for him. I hope this is a pattern for future Duke Divinity School students."
Drake, who came to Duke from Dickson, Tenn., says he is interested in pursuing further academic study after graduation but also feels called to the church. “One of my hopes for going to this conference is to open doors, make connections, and see if I would enjoy and be cut out for academia,” he said.