Course Memo

This seminar is a theology course with a strong historical context. It covers all twenty-two books of Augustine’s “great and arduous work,” the City of God, which stands as the longest work presenting a sustained argument to survive from Graeco-Roman antiquity. We trace the evolution and multiple uses of the two-cities theme, how it illuminates his social, moral, and political philosophy/theology, his understanding of spiritual conversion by which prodigals become pilgrims, and his approach to history and eschatology. Particular attention is given to Augustine’s assessment of the authority of the discourses (words, speeches, myths) of the gentiles, for he was the master of word-signs and performances. Theologia are the discourses about the divine, either on our part about the divine or on the part of the divine about creatures. The gentiles adapted theology to the stage, the civic order, and to the order of nature. Augustine ponders deeply the inefficacy of ancient wisdom and philosophical traditions to resist noble and ignoble lies about religion for the sake of political and cultural solidarity. He explores the crisis of human history once the revealed Word forms a people in truthful love.
Seminar work includes attendance, participation, and discussion; fortitude of long reading, for the most significant achievement of the seminarists, is to actually read the whole thing, and to learn its structure and organization; written formulation of discussion questions; a 15-20 page paper on some aspect of the City of God, to be worked out in consultation with the professor.
Intended Audience: Advanced MA Theology/Philosophy, PhD students, or other graduate students with instructor’s permission. A few auditors can be admitted with instructor’s permission. Meeting Day and Time: Tuesdays, 12:40pm to 3:30pm, from 2/4/2020 through 4/7/2020 (except for 3/24/2020 for Spring Break), and for intensive sessions (up to three) on some Saturdays during February and/or March (dates and times to be arranged on the first day of class). [Auditors with faculty permission]