The Catholic University of America

Harmon Defense

Ms. Tera Harmon presented her dissertation for the degree of Doctors of Philosophy on Friday, November 20, 2015, at 11:00a.m. in Caldwell 125. Her dissertation is titled,"Motion  (κ?νησις)  And Anthropology In The Writings Of Gregory Of Nyssa."


Final Examination of
Ms. Tera Harmon
for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Friday, November 20, 2015
11:00a.m., Caldwell Room 125
Director: Susan Wessel, Ph.D.
Since the middle of the 20th century, scholars have commented on the frequency and range of topics for which Gregory of Nyssa employs the term kinesis. Besides categorizing all creation, including humanity, as the offspring of rest and motion, Gregory uses the language of motion to describe a vast array of human activities, including thought, language, emotion, sin, virtue, and spiritual ascent, among others. While Gregory’s emphasis on motion has been noticed and discussed, it has yet to be analyzed in a systematic or comprehensive fashion.
This study analyzes Gregory’s use of the term kinesis in its varied contexts to develop a synthesis of Gregory’s thought on motion and consider how it relates to his anthropology. By examining descriptions of the motion many entities, both literal and metaphorical, the first part of this study affirms the centrality of kinesis to Gregory’s anthropology. Further, it argues that Gregory considered kinesis to be fundamental to humans, marking them as created beings, separate from God, even in the eschaton. The notions of kinesis and diastemabeing closely aligned with one another, I further argue that humans retain their diastemic nature in the resurrection.
The second part of this study explores the implications of an anthropology indelibly marked by kinesis, concluding that kinesis prevents human isolation, both the isolation of one part from another in the same person and the isolation of humans from other humans and from God. Gregory’s kinetic anthropology also lends support to the idea that humans are holistic, connected between mind and body, intelligible and sensible, rather than dualistically divided. Finally, it asserts the importance of both continuity and change for humans, emphasizing the importance of a constant identity over time as well as the eternal need for growth.


About Tera:

Tera Harmon grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, graduating from high school there in 2000. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies in 2003 and a Master of Divinity in 2007, both from Abilene Christian University in Abilene, TX. She moved to Washington D.C. with her husband, David Todd Harmon, in 2007 to begin work on her Ph.D. in Church History at The Catholic University of America.
While completing her degree, Tera has worked as a teaching assistant in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America, taught as an adjunct instructor at Abilene Christian University, and spent one semester as a visiting instructor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. She has presented at the Pepperdine Bible Lectures and the Christian Scholars Conference. She has also had two children while completing her studies, Owen, who is now 6, and Cora, age 3. She lives in Charlotte, NC with her family. 
Summary of Courses:
TRS 520 Introduction to Church History
GR 565 Directed Reading (Clement of Alexandria)
TRS 822B The Cappadocian Theologians
HIST 823 Gender and Asceticism in the Early Middle Ages
SEM 703 History of the Christian Near East I
TRS 823C Topics in Greek Patristics I
HIST 607 Women, Sex, and Gender in the Middle Ages
TRS 721 Principles of Patristic Exegesis
TRS 822D Irenaeus and the Gnostics
FREN 500 French Reading for Comprehension
TRS 721A Patristic Thought and Emotion
TRS 599D Doctoral Comps
TRS 996B Doctoral Dissertation Guidance