HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY
THE ANCIENT WORLD programme, which covers the period from 3,000 BC to 1400 AD, is an attempt to bring back to college education the vital elements of the Christian understanding of life before the Modern age – a view of the world that is so rarely taught today (even at many Christian colleges). Yet this understanding of the world, which has deep Scriptural roots since it is shaped by Jewish and Greek thought transformed by the Church, even as it fades from the scene of higher education, has no equal in the profound way it illuminates the troubles we see our 21st-century world.
As Christopher Lasch observed already thirty years ago,
“In the space of two or three generations, enormous stretches of the ‘Judaeo-Christian tradition,’ so often invoked by educators but so seldom taught in any form, have passed into oblivion.”
Without the ideas that were the foundation of the Christian West – ideas that could be called the very thinking of the Church – Christians today remain weak in the face of the challenges of our time.
THE ANCIENT WORLD programme is designed to strengthen students spiritually and intellectually as they go forth into the world, whether at university or in the workforce. What are the alternatives to what people today believe? What did people – both Christians and pagans – believe about life for thousands of years, and why? Is belief in God, truth, purpose, meaning, order, sin, salvation, etc., really irrational?
Come and learn the answers given by the great thinkers of the past.
Five of the eight courses in THE ANCIENT WORLD programme (Philosophy, Science, Literature, Art, and the History of Christianity) proceed chronologically, often strictly parallel to each other in time. The three remaining courses introduce students to what ancient Greeks, Romans, and Christians considered the most essential training in how to think, a three-part course known as the TRIVIUM; the course in READING THE SCRIPTURES covers the Pentateuch and the Prophets; students also study one ANCIENT LANGUAGE (Latin or Greek).
PHILOSOPHY | The Ancient World
What is the fundamental character of life on this earth? What makes a thing good? Is wisdom important? What is wisdom? What can man know? What does it mean to ‘examine your life’? What is desire? Is a human being really an animal? Does life have a purpose? Do we do things for reasons? Why do we want what we want? Are you good? What does it mean, to be a good person? What does it mean to be a true friend? Why should we be good? Can you be good if you just set your mind to it? Do Christians need a study of ethics?
These are some of the one-hundred-or-so questions, raised by ancient thinkers, that we will study in this course. We will look at the most enduring answers given to these questions by the greatest thinkers in the Western tradition. It may be apparent, then, that the purpose of this course is to furnish students with philosophical resources for the living of their lives.
To that end, we look primarily at the understanding of human life, the conditions that bear upon it (the ‘human condition’), and the idea of purpose in life/a successful life/the good life, which puts us in the domain of Ethics. This will draw us into consideration of many central issues in philosophy: truth, justice, love, causation, the soul, politics, the individual, reason, etc.
Instructor: Prof. Edward Tingley
SCIENCE, MEDICINE, & FAITH |
The Ancient World
How does the 19th-C view that religion, particularly the Christian religion, was antagonistic to the development of science stand up in the light of an actual look at pre-modern science? This course, focused upon Antiquity and the Middle Ages, provides the background needed to understand the complex history of thought that led to Modern science.
It asks, What are the major ideas in science and how have those ideas evolved? What are the common misconceptions and myths about science and the attitude of the Christian Church toward science? What led to the emergence of genuine science? And how have reason and faith worked together in the development of science?
All human cultures possess forms of technology, which reflect the human response to the problems of survival: problem-solving may produce technology, but does it generate science? Early medicine was a mixture of incantation, empirical remedies, and crude surgery, but to this day animistic cultures remain hard soil into which to plant scientific ideas.
We shall examine the flowering of abstract mathematics and the great cultural insight of the Hippocratic physicians, and then the decline into the uncritical encyclopaedic cataloguing of the Roman period. Following the rediscovery (via the Muslim world) of the scientific works of Aristotle, the 13th and 14th centuries, rather than the Enlightenment, turn out to be a critical turning point, permitting the later revolutions of modern scientific thought.
Instructor: Prof. John Patrick
LITERATURE | The Ancient World
What are our imaginations for? How can reading works of imaginative literature help us to live in right relationship to God and our fellow human beings? How, as readers of Scripture, do we approach the wide spectrum of texts that make up the Western literary canon?
This course offers an introduction to the history of Western literature and is designed to help students refine and articulate their sense of the role of imaginative texts in the life of a Christian.
Works to be read and discussed (in whole or in part) include Homer’s Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, Beowulf, The Dream of the Rood, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus.
Instructor: Prof. Emily Martin
ART | The Ancient World
This course introduces students to art of the Ancient world through to the Late Middle Ages, examining it in its spiritual and intellectual context relative to key developments in the cultural life of the West.
This we do in a steady effort to answer three primary questions: What is an image? (a question also central to the Bible) and What is art for? and What art is good?
The lectures move chronologically through the history of art, beginning with the art of Ancient Egypt and ending with work of the 15th century, on the verge of the Modern period. As we move through time, questions are answered that may have a bearing upon the student’s own understanding of the value of what present-day culture offers Christians to engage their imaginations (in movies, stories, music, games). Questions the student will be able to answer by the end of the course include:
How much of Ancient art is religious art? How, in the Ancient world, do you ‘read art’? Is a work of art a message communicated to the viewer by the artist? How important to the art of this period was the artist’s self-expression? What is the attitude of ancient Judaism toward images? What is the attitude of the Early Church toward images? Did Christian artists separate themselves from pagan imagery? Is Christian art the transmission, in images, of Christian doctrine? What is a cathedral for? What is an icon? Why do Byzantine icons ‘look that way’? Can matter (images formed in paint on a board) reveal spirit?
Our objective is not to give the student a love of art but, rather, the ‘why’ and ‘wherefore’ of the many works left to us from pre-Modern times. As a part of that undertaking – the attempt to understand art – we will look at what people at various moments of Western history have said about what art is for, what art must do, and what makes a work of art good.
Instructor: Prof. Edward Tingley
THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY |
The Ancient World
This course provides students with an introduction to Christian history through a chronological study of key periods and movements, from the Old Testament pre-Christian period to the age of the last Crusade and the reforms of the Late Middle Ages. Given the breadth of Christian history, the course will not attempt to be exhaustive but rather will focus on key themes, ideas, and debates that shaped the first thirteen-hundred years of Christianity.
By the conclusion of the course students should be familiar with the principal eras of Christian history prior to the Reformation and have a greater awareness of the main Christian traditions to that date (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox).
Specifically, students will acquire a greater understanding of the historical reality of the Resurrection, the conceptions of Apostolic Succession and heresy, early Christian worship and the Eucharist, martyrdom, Gnosticism, the Toleration of Christianity in the Roman empire, Arianism and other heresies, the Nicene Creed, conciliarism, iconoclasm, asceticism and the rise of monasticism, Church-state relations in Byzantium, the spread of Islam, missions to the Slavs, the Medieval papacy, the Crusades, the new mendicant orders, the Benedictine reforms, hesychasm, the Ottoman invasions, the Great Schism and the Avignon schism, and the objectives of the early reformers.
Instructors: Prof. Andrew Bennett, Prof. Brian Butcher
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” – Isaiah 5:20
“To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true” – Aristotle
In the Old Testament, man is given a ‘heart’ by which he might know God and see the truth by which he must live – yet, at the same time, the Fall darkens his mind. In Antiquity (thanks to the insights of Aristotle) it was believed that the mind was fit to ascertain the truth – yet there were rules of thought that, if ignored, meant you would believe what was false.
This course is a practical introduction to the Trivium, the three ‘arts of truth’ that Christians such as Augustine, Boethius, Thomas Aquinas, Isaac Watts, C.S. Lewis, Peter Kreeft, Norman Geisler, and many others have accepted to lay out for us the ‘laws of thought’ that we ignore at our peril.
The three components of the Trivium – Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric – were once counted essentials of any proper education.
In Grammar students are taught not the structure of sentences (where their grammar training stopped) but the structure of texts, which conveys the larger meaning of what we read. Students are taught to read more accurately.
In Logic students are shown how to use ideas, define terms, and argue to a correct conclusion. They are also taught how to identify and defuse logical fallacies.
Finally, in Rhetoric students are introduced to the essential elements of speaking and debating publicly with greater effectiveness. Students are instructed in the moral substance of dialogue, the difference between saying what you think (or winning an argument) and seeking the truth.
Instructor: Prof. Edward Tingley
READING THE SCRIPTURES
“Reading the Bible should be a form of prayer. The Bible should be read in God’s presence and as the unfolding of His mind. It is not just a book, but God’s love letter to you. It is God’s revelation, God’s mind, operating through your mind and your reading, so your reading is your response to His mind and will. Reading it is aligning your mind and will with God’s; therefore it is a fulfillment of the prayer, ‘Thy will be done,’ which is the most basic and essential key to achieving our whole purpose on earth: holiness and happiness. ” – Peter Kreeft
The Bible is foundational to the development of Western thought and culture, yet most people have no more than a passing acquaintance with its contents. Even the experience of many (dare I say most?) church-going Christians tends to be one of piecemeal encounters with Scripture: Sunday-school stories about ‘heroes of the Bible’, Christmas pageants, seasonal readings and sermons, favourite hymns and choruses, etc.
The aim of this course is to encourage students to approach Scripture as a whole – to see that, although the Bible is in fact a library (scores of books, each with its own integrity, written over the course of centuries, by numerous human authors), it is yet bound together as one volume by the one Divine Author, presenting a coherent revelation: God’s Word to His people.
This course focuses on the Old Testament, with special attention paid to the topics of providence and redemption, creation and fall, the land of promise, exile, and return, call and covenant, and kings and prophets.
Our focus will be primarily on the content of the Bible we will also reflect upon how we read and understand the text, often drawing into our discussion insights from other Christian writers throughout the centuries.
Instructor: The Reverend Doug Hayman
BEGINNING LATIN 1
This course introduces students with no previous knowledge of Latin to the rudiments of the language. The student will cover the first 12 chapters of Wheelock’s Latin, at the rate of one chapter per week. This will involve mastering the various word endings for nouns, adjectives, and pronouns; the verb conjugations; and the principal rules of grammar and syntax. At the same time, we shall translate during each lecture, chiefly from Latin into English. The enduring richness and vitality of this ‘dead’ language becomes evident as we read classical authors.
Students learn through class lectures, translations, and regular written assignments.
Instructor: Prof. Edmund Bloedowphoto by Jacob Enos
BEGINNING GREEK 1
In this course we shall cover the first 18 chapters of L.A. Wilding’s Greek for Beginners, which contain all that is required at the level of first-year Greek. Approximately one third of these exercises are from English to Greek, the real test of learning the language.
Students learn through class lectures, weekly quizzes (translation with grammar), and prepared exercises submitted to the instructor (averaging 10 to 12 sentences each).