I was raised in Southern California in a typical Greek-American household. My Greek baptismal name is Eugenia, and this is the name I have used professionally for many years. I had wonderful parents who were active in the Greek Orthodox Church. I was involved in Sunday school, youth groups and other church activities. But I had not deeply considered what it really meant to be a Christian, especially an Orthodox Christian. It is typical to ponder religious questions and religious identity in one’s teenage years and early adulthood and I was no exception. After high school, I enrolled at the University of San Diego (USD), a Catholic institution, as a Political Science major, intending to continue to law school. All students were required to take three religion classes. My religion courses were the most interesting of all my classes and I switched my major Religious Studies. Soon thereafter, I met an Orthodox priest who began to talk to me about things I had never heard of before about the Orthodox Church, the very Church in which I had grown up. I had never been truly exposed to nor realized the treasure of Orthodox Christianity. I was fascinated and deeply impressed by the truth, wisdom and spiritual wealth of Orthodoxy and became a convert to my own faith. This does not mean that it was easy for me, that I had no doubts or questions. But a door was open for me and I entered into the deep spiritual treasury of the ancient Church which I am still exploring, often with the same amazement and wonder, over forty years later.
My professors at USD, who came from various religious traditions, were highly supportive and encouraged me to plunge into my Orthodox tradition. I am grateful to them. I learned about Catholicism and world religions, but I also learned a tremendous amount of Orthodox theology by my own research and self-study. I also took as many Scripture courses as possible during my years at USD. As I studied under Catholic, Lutheran and Episcopalian professors, I became acutely aware not only of a divergence in theological opinions but also the difference in mentality and theological methodology between Christian East (Orthodox Christianity) and the West (the Catholic Church and Protestant churches). I often felt like a theological fish out of water in a Western Christian theological environment. After learning about this issue and contemplating this for over forty years, a book was born from my study and experiences, Thinking Orthodox: Understanding and Acquiring the Orthodox Christian Mind, published in November 2020 by Ancient Faith Publishing.
Soon after becoming a religious studies major, I met a wonderful, handsome young Greek Orthodox Canadian seminarian, Costas Constantinou. He was pursuing a Ph.D. in Christology and we have been married for over forty years now. I completed my Bachelor’s degree and Costas was ordained to the diaconate and to the priesthood in 1979. He has served parishes as a Greek Orthodox priest primarily in California, but also in Massachusetts, New York, Washington state and Quebec City. I continued my education along the way in every city where we lived. I became a lawyer, earning a Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California in 1985. I passed the California Bar exam two months later and I worked as an attorney in Ventura and San Diego before we moved out of the state of California to accept a parish assignment in New England.
Like many presbyteres (the title for a Greek Orthodox presbyter’s wife), I was very involved in our parishes, teaching Bible study, Sunday School, leading retreats, teaching Greek dancing, chanting, and sometimes giving sermons. I am grateful for my experiences and the parishes we have served. We enjoyed the love and support of countless parishioners who were a great blessing from God in our lives and continue to be. We have fond memories and have hundreds of dear friends in many places. But we were also challenged by people who did not appreciate us and those were important spiritual learning experiences as well.
I continued my education in theology as the years passed, earning an Master of Arts in Practical Theology at University of San Diego and a Master of Theology (Th.M.) at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA, where I specialized in Orthodox theology and patristics. This is the highest degree offered by Holy Cross. The subject of my Master’s thesis was “St. John Chrysostom as an Interpreter of the New Testament: Three Exegetical Principles.” I then enrolled at Harvard Divinity School where I specialized in the New Testament and received another Master of Theology degree. The subject of my Master’s thesis at Harvard was, “The Roman Administration of Criminal Justice in First Century Judea.”
I became a doctoral student at Université Laval, Quebec City, Canada, the oldest institution of education in Canada, originally founded as a seminary in 1663. Today it is a major university with over 38,000 students and a wonderful department of religion. I received my Ph.D. from Laval in 2008, writing my doctoral dissertation on “Andrew of Caesarea and the Apocalypse in the Ancient Church of the East.” Andrew of Caesarea, who was the Archbishop of Caesarea, Cappadocia in the early 7th century, wrote the most important patristic commentary on the Apocalypse for the Orthodox Church. The commentary also played an instrumental role in the reception of the Apocalypse into the New Testament canon of the Orthodox Church and shaped the fundamental perspective about Revelation for Orthodox Christians. The commentary had never before been translated into a modern language. I translated the commentary from the original Greek and my thesis was an analysis and explanation of the commentary. The commentary itself was published by The Catholic University of America Press in their series, The Fathers of the Church, volume 123, entitled, Andrew of Caesarea, Commentary on the Apocalypse. The research into the person of Andrew of Caesarea, his commentary and his impact on the interpretation of the Book of Revelation was the subject of my second book Guiding to a Blessed End: Andrew of Caesarea and His Apocalypse Commentary in the Ancient Church, also published by The Catholic University of America Press. All of my books are available on through this website or sellers, such as Amazon.
My husband, Fr. Costas is my rock, my best friend, my most important advisor and greatest supporter. I could not have accomplished all of this without his complete support and encouragement. We have one son, Christopher, who is an adult now and he is the most wonderful son anyone could ask for. Being a mother, and especially the wife of a parish priest, has been a blessing and a challenge. My experiences have not only informed my theology and biblical interpretation, but awareness of pastoral implications and consequences in biblical interpretation and application of the Bible has become an important component for me in classroom discussions and on my podcasts. I believe this is the difference between my approach and that of a more “typical” academic.
I have taught professionally in a variety of educational settings, including New Testament at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology from 1998-1999, and briefly at the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute in Berkeley, California (Patristic Exegesis of Scripture), at the University of California at San Diego (the Gospel of John), and at Cuyamaca Community College in El Cajon, California (World Religions). I have also been a speaker for a wide variety of audiences, including non-religious groups. I have spoken on countless occasions on the Bible and Christian history especially for seniors as a “continuing education” speaker, but also as a guest lecturer for Catholics, Episcopalians, evangelical Christians and many others. I remain a full-time professor at the University of San Diego, where I have been teaching Biblical Studies and Early Christianity since 2002. I also teach the advanced New Testament courses at two graduate schools of theology, The Franciscan School of Theology, which shares the campus of the University of San Diego, and the Saints Athanasius and Cyril Coptic School of Theology, headquartered in Anaheim, California.