Doctor, primarily a teacher. 1. The title Doctor of Theology (Doctor Theologiae) is the highest academical degree in theology. In England and America it is generally given under the title Doctor of Divinity (Doctor Divinitatis, abridged D.D.), or Doctor of Sacred Theology (S.T.D.).
2. The word was used at an early period as a general expression for a teacher of Christian doctrine, and later it was applied (before it became a special academical title) to men eminent for their knowledge in theology, and for their skill in teaching it. Pre-eminently the title Doctors of the Church (doctores ecclesiae), was given to four of the Greek fathers, viz. Athanasius, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, and Chrysostom; and to three of the Latin, viz. Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the Great. To a few great men among the scholastics it was given with an additional epithet to designate some special intellectual quality in gift; thus, in the 12th and 13th centuries, the following doctors of the Church were thus honored: Thomas Aquinas, Angelicus; Johannes Bonaventura, Seraphicus; Johannes Duns Scotus, Subtilis; Raimundus Lullus, Illuminatus; Alanus de Insulis (de l'Isle), Universalis; Durandus de S. Pourgain, Resolutissimus; Gregorius de Rimini, Authenticus; Johannes Taulerus, Illuminatus; Johannes Gersonus, Christianissimus; Alexander Hales, Irrefragabilis; Roger Bacon, Admirabilis; William Occam, Singularis.
3. The academical degree of doctor seems to have arisen in the 12th century, SEE DEGREE, when Irnerius of Bologna has the credit of originating the ceremonial of investiture for the doctorate of laws. The University of Paris almost immediately followed in the footsteps of Bologna, the first reception of doctors having taken place in the year 1145, in favor of Peter Lombard and Gilbert de la Porree, the greatest theologians of the day. Subsequently to this period the emperors were accustomed to confer upon the universities the right of appointing doctors of laws by their authority and in their name. The example of the emperors was speedily followed by the popes, who conferred corresponding rights with reference to the canon law. From the 11th to the 13th century there seems reason to believe that, both in Italy and France, the terms master and doctor were pretty nearly synonymous. According to Spelman, the degree of doctor was not given in England until the time of king John, A.D. 1207.
4. In modern times, the title Doctor of Theology is conferred by universities and colleges, and also by the Pope. In France it is bestowed, after suitable examination, on any ecclesiastic who has taken the degree of doctor in a faculty of theology and in some university. In the faculty of theology in Paris, the time of necessary studies is seven years: two of philosophy; after which they commonly receive the cap of master of arts; three of theology, which lead to the degree of bachelor in theology; and two of licentiate, during which the bachelors are continually exercised in theses and argumentations upon the sacred Scriptures, the scholastic theology, and ecclesiastical history. After further examinations, the doctorate in full is conferred. In Germany, Great Britain, and the United States, the degree is now generally conferred as an honorary one (honoris causa), without examination, upon men having distinguished themselves as teachers of Christianity by writing or speech. In the universities of Oxford and Cambridge (England) the academical degree of doctor is still, however, given upon examination (formal, if not real) to masters of arts of eleven years' standing; in Cambridge, to masters of twelve years' standing, or to bachelors in divinity of five.