While the first ten books of The City of God are directed towards addressing the charges of the pagan critics who maintained that Christianity was responsible for the sack of Rome in 410 A.D., in the remaining books (XI-XXII) Augustine directs his attention to the arc of Scripture and the task of narrating the intertwined history of the “two cities.” The following is one of the central quotes in which Augustine makes clear his understanding of the differentiation between the two cities: Continue reading Augustine on the Two Cities
While Providence Theological Seminary is located in the small town of Otterburne in rural Southern Manitoba, we do have students coming from all over the world. The modular course I recently offered on the “The Holy Spirit and Last Things” included students from India, Myanmar, Ukraine, Brazil, as well as Canada. I recently discovered that one my students from another class was featured this week in one of Paraguay’s national newspapers. For those who can read Spanish, here is the link: https://www.lanacion.com.py/pais_edicion_impresa/2019/03/25/mirta-una-mujer-indigena-que-se-proyecta-en-grande/.
A significant strand within the discipline of biblical studies within modernity has leaned towards equating the “true meaning” of Scripture with the intent of the author. Ironically, this emphasis on “authorial intention” undermines the Christian claim that the Scriptures are superintended over by the Holy Spirit. For if the Scriptures are a gift that the church receives from the Holy Spirit, then the meaning of the texts can not be reduced to the supposed intentions of the historical authors. Augustine, for his part, while not dismissing the importance of authorial intention does relativize it in relation to reading with the rule of faith. Here’s how he describes how Christian interpreters should approach obscure or difficult passages: Continue reading Augustine on Authorial Intention in Biblical Interpretation
As the winter semester heads into the home stretch, the students in my “Reading with the Fathers” course will be turning their attention to the towering figure of St. Augustine of Hippo. The influence of Augustine upon the Western theological tradition, through his copious written output, is unfathomable. While a strong case could be made for assigning Augstine’s Confessions, I have opted to have the students read significant chapters from his massive City of God. With the end of semester and graduation fast approaching, I don’t have a lot of time for extensive blogging, but I did think I could in the days ahead share some of the stimulating and provocative quotes from The City of God against the Pagans. Continue reading Some Lighter Reading from “The City of God”
A rich, but very busy semester has cut into the frequency of my blog postings this year. However, a spring “snow day” here in Manitoba has provided me with the opportunity to share a quote from the 4th century Church Father Gregory Nazianzus. I was lecturing on the Cappadocian Fathers last week in my “Reading with the Fathers” class and we will be discussing Gregory’s “Defense of His Flight to Pontus,” as well as his “Last Farewell” (delivered at the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D.) this coming week. Continue reading Gregory Nazianzus on the Pursuit of Wisdom
“This language of loss and diminuition clearly suggests the possibility of coming to nothing, of annihilation stricto sensu. That is what gives it the undeniable power it has. For Augustine, as for most of the fathers of the church, the possibility of self-annihilation is suggested by a grammar of participation and gift. On this view, the fact that you are is sheer unmerited gift, and what you are is a participant in the LORD. Continue reading Griffiths on The Lure of the Void