Pamplona – 24.05.2023

At 12.00h of Wednesday, the 24th day of May at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarra, Fr. Valentine Umoh, a priest of Ikot Ekpene Diocese, NIGERIA defended his doctoral thesis. The thesis titled: “The gift of διδασκαλία in Pauline Writings” was directed by the erudite Pauline Scholar and Professor, Fr. Prof. Juan Luis Caballero.  The Panel/Tribunal was constituted with Fr. Prof Juan Luis Lorda as President, Frs. Profs. Juan Chapa, José Alviar, Vicente Balaguer as members and Fr. Prof. Fernando Milán as secretary. Others in the Panel included: Fr. Prof. Pablo González Alonso and Fr. Prof. Miguel Brugarolas.

The doctoral student had about an hour to expose before the panel the main tenets of his thesis. The thesis, a work of 294 pages segmented into three parts with each part further subdivided into two chapters is an attempt to develop a Pauline Theology of the gift of διδασκαλία. He explained that the thesis was set in the context of Paul´s theology of Charismata in the New Testament and the reality of the Church today. He stated that such a study became necessary due to the perceived relegation of this gift in Pauline theology of charismata when compared to the other “coveted” gifts. Among other objectives, the study aims to rediscover the role that the gift, charism, and ministry of teaching will need to play in the New Evangelization mission of the Modern-day Church faced with the reality of pluralism, relativism, and Pentecostalism.  As such, the main contention of the work is that διδασκαλία (teaching) is also a Pauline charism sui generis and that those who have received this gift use it diligently and faithfully for the edification of the Church and not abandon it for the other coveted gifts.

He highlighted that the gift of teaching when received and employed diligently and faithfully will facilitate according to the Apostle Paul not just the building up of the Church (οἰκοδομή) but will lead also to the unity of faith, maturity in faith, knowledge of the Son of God and combat false doctrines. He further underlined that the gift of διδασκαλία relates to and complements other gifts in the Pauline charismata including the gifts of evangelizing, exhorting, pastoring, prophecy, and apostolate. It can even be said to be foundational, that is, facilitates the functioning of other charisms in the Church. It is a gift synonymous with Christian education (παιδεύω), Catechesis (κατηχέω), and Transmission of the Christian Faith (παραδίδωμι).

The first part of the thesis looks at the reality of διδασκαλία and related terms in the Greek context including the LXX, Philo, Josephus, and the NT. The Second part underlines the gift of διδασκαλία in Pauline writings including 1Corinthians, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, 2Thessalonians, 1-2Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews. The third part is a theological reflection on the gift of διδασκαλία in the Modern-day Church. In conclusion, those who have this gift in the Church are urged to fan it into flame. Teaching preserves continuity: with teaching a community of faith will not die.

The thesis was well received and appreciated by the Panel. A fragment of the thesis will be published subsequently in the University Journal, while the full text intends to develop into a book.

Fr. Valentine is grateful to all those who had accompanied and supported him all these years of studies and investigation. Special thanks to his home Bishop, Most Rev. Camillus Umoh and entire Ikot Ekpene Diocese; the Bishop of Jaén, Mons. Sebastian Chico Martínez and the entire Diocese of Jaén; his thesis director, Fr. Prof. Juan Luis Caballero, his other lecturers in the Faculty of Theology and the entire University of Navarra community. He is especially elated by his priests-brothers and friends who were able to make it to the defense and subsequently the investiture. On the 2nd of June, will take place in the University Auditorium the solemn act of Investiture of all the new doctors of the University of Navarra for the 2022/2023 academic year. Congratulations is in order for the new doctor of theology!

In servire Veritatis semper… Always in the service of the Truth