St. Nersess Distance Learning

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Available Courses

  • Learning to read the 38 letters of the modern Armenian alphabet is easy with this series of modules designed to teach you to recognize the Armenian characters and read. 

  • This series of lessons will teach you some basic principles of the classical language of the Armenian Church and the most frequently-encountered words in her liturgical services. You need to be able to read Armenian in order to take this course. Check back for new lessons.
  • This course is designed to introduce deacons to the broad spectrum of patristic writings in Armenian.  As we examine a representative sampling of the Fathers' thinking about the faith from century to century, we will focus our attention on the themes common to multiple ages, and on the unique twists given to those themes by the specific context in which they were enunciated. 

  • This course surveys the pillar sacraments of the church, Baptism and the Divine Liturgy: their biblical roots and place in the life of the Church and the Christian; their historical development, liturgical structure, theology and interpretation. Emphasis is on the rites of the Armenian Church with consideration of practical issues related to the effectiveness of these sacraments in Armenian Church communities in North America today.
  • This course studies the rich heritage of Armenian commentaries on the Divine Liturgy from the 8th-15th centuries. The writings of such authors as Stepanos Siunetsi (8th c.), Khosrov Antsevatsi (10th c.), Nersess Lampronatsi (12th c.), Hovhannes Arjishetsi (13th c.) and Grigor Datevatsi (15th c.) are analyzed with an eye toward discerning how these theologians understood the purpose and meaning of the Badarak; what questions occupied them; and what insights of theirs might be useful for those who today seek a more meaningful and satisfying experience of the Divine Liturgy. While reading our authors in chronological order, the evolution in the shape of the Badarak will also be observed.

  • The sacred music of the Armenian Church is surely one of the most sublime and distinctive features of Armenian Christianity. It has been said that the theology of the Armenian Church is to be found in her šarakans (hymns). What are these exquisite musical-theological-prayerful pieces? What is their message to us and to God? Who composed them? What is their function apart from creating beautiful and stirring worship? Explore one of Christendom's most ancient traditions of sacred hymnody and discover how it compares with and differs from other great sacred musical traditions of the Christian world.

  • FOR REGISTERED ST. NERSESS STUDENTS ONLY. A survey of sacraments and sacramental as lived and understood by the Armenian Church. Emphasis is on the theology of the sacraments and consequently their function in the life of the church. The liturgical structure of the services and their historical development are discussed, as are the structure and dynamics of sacramental prayers and pastoral issues impacting the effective celebration of the sacraments.

  • This course trains students in all of the rituals and skills necessary to assist in the celebration of services for the days of Holy Week in the Armenian Church, from the Raising of Lazarus through Easter Sunday. Emphasis is placed on the order and rituals of the services. (FINDIKYAN)
  • This combined Liturgical Music and Praxis course concerns ceremonies associated with major feasts and sacraments of the Armenian Church (with the exception of Holy Week). Students will learn the sequence of, as well as the rituals and skills necessary to assist in the celebration of the services while they master the deacons' chants and hymns.

    This introductory course begins with a general examination of liturgy: what it is, where it comes from, its place and significance in the life of the Church, and its connection to theology. The second part of the course presents a broad survey of the Armenian liturgical tradition as a prerequisite to further study: its historical evolution and distinctive features, the Divine Liturgy, sacraments, liturgical cycles, liturgical books, and the liturgical year.
  • Students will gain an understanding of the Armenian Church's development as an ongoing process, whose course is affected by factors both inside and outside the Church. The blend of factors contributing to that development are analyzed in class lectures. Equal weight will be given to reading and working with texts that express the thinking of people who influenced the Church's development in each time period considered. At the end of the semester, the student will have a grasp of Armenian patristic thought on the major issues of the Church's second millennium, and some ideas regarding the application of that thinking to the questions of the 21st century as well.
  • This course is devoted to the origins, historical development and theology of the church year with special reference to the Armenian ecclesiastical calendar, its distinctive features and Christology. Cosmic cycles, calendrics, and time are discussed, as are the development of the Paschal, Nativity and other festal cycles, the seasons, fasts and feasts, the sanctoral, and the Lectionary, emphasizing their meaning and function in the life of the church today.
  • This seminar will examine the phenomenon of liturgy: its biblical origins, historical development, properties and attributes, and its place in the life of the church and the individual Christian.

  • This course will introduce
    students to the faith and thought of one of the Armenian Church’s most revered and
    influential saints as well as ecumenically recognized Doctor of the Church, St.
    Gregory of Narek. After contextualizing Gregory within the larger picture of
    Armenian spiritual history and geography, the course will describe the
    development of Narek Monastery and its extraordinary school. An overview of the
    saint’s extensive and varied body of work will be followed by more focused
    discussion of the themes and imagery that inform his thought and express his
    relationship with God, Church, the natural and political world, and other human
    beings. Throughout the course, St. Gregory’s works will be actively used in
    prayer and music, preparing the student to carry them beyond the seminary and
    use them for both personal spiritual nourishment and the enrichment of parish

  • This course is dedicated to an exploration of the history of Armenian Christianity in its first millennium and the patristic writing that arose out of that history. What can we understand about "religious" and "secular" life in an era when those distinctions did not exist? What issues did the Fathers who expressed that era's faith choose to address in writing? How and why did they choose to make their considered teachings on these particular issues available in permanent form? To whom did they address their writings? Over the course of the semester, we will look at both the changing interests and the consistent themes of foundational Armenian Christianity, the personalities that formed and were formed by the interplay of faith and daily living — including daily politics — and speculate intelligently on how the ideas of the Church's spiritual leaders affected the life of "clergy-in-the-world" and lay believers.

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