John Kegley, M.Div. ’22, was first introduced to Cyril of Alexandria in Patristic History and Doctrine class during his first semester at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School.
Master of Divinity students are required to read primary texts by theologians throughout church history in the school’s History and Doctrine five-course sequence.
“We can take the time to read their works and the arguments they make and how they use Scripture to make their arguments, not just their conclusions,” Kegley said.
That first class and its professor, Carl Beckwith, had a profound impact on him, capturing his interest in trinitarian theology and influencing the trajectory of his vocational goals.
A graduate of Samford with majors in history, classics and religion, Kegley already had a background in Greek coming into divinity school and was able to go deeper in the language as an M.Div. student. By the end of his M.Div. studies, he knew he wanted to study a Greek-speaking church father who wrote on trinitarian theology for doctoral work. Beckwith pointed him to Cyril, a bishop of Alexandria who lived in the late 4th to early 5thcenturies.
“Through the History and Doctrine course and conversations with Dr. Beckwith, I decided to focus on Cyril’s trinitarian theology, which remains understudied and overshadowed by his Christological insights,” he said.
As he began studying Cyril outside the classroom, Kegley discovered he had written three large works on the Trinity, two of which have not been translated into English. He narrowed in on one of the untranslated works, Dialogues on the Trinity, and began translating it into English.
“Growing up in a tradition that didn’t spend a lot of time reflecting deeply upon the Trinity, I find a lot of joy and purpose in providing Cyril’s theological writings for Christians in English,” Kegley said. “I think in some of our churches the Trinity is something we easily give lip service to but also something we quickly move on from. Part of this work is personal and part of it is academic—to help the church think more deeply and biblically about the Trinity.”
On April 19, 2022, Kegley received the school’s annual History and Doctrine Award for his exemplary scholarship in historical and systematic theology.
“John’s work on Cyril brings together his deep love for the scriptures and their faithful interpretation throughout the history of the church,” said Beckwith. “This important exegetical work by Cyril has never been translated into English. I am delighted that John wishes to serve the broader church in this way and look forward to the day I can assign his translation in History and Doctrine.”
Kegley, who currently teaches Greek and Latin at Westminster School at Oak Mountain in Birmingham, gives credit to Beeson Divinity for its curriculum in having shaped him as a Christian, minister of the gospel and scholar.
“If it wasn’t for Beeson, I probably wouldn’t be doing this project,” he said. “Beeson was the ideal place for me to grow not just as a scholar but also as someone who can think about the Trinity for the church.”
This article first appeared in the fall 2022 issue of Samford University's Seasons magazine.