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UPDATE: Essays on Jesus’ Conception and Virgin Birth

 

Image of the “spark” of conception, a physical reaction recently observed when sperm meets an egg.  The flash you see in the upper right is actually made of zinc, and its brightness could indicate the strength of fertilization.  Research done at Northwestern University.

 

This past Sunday we discussed the virginity (including the perpetual virginity) of Mary, mother of Jesus, and how Aristotelian philosophy shaped Greco-Roman, Jewish, and the Gospel writers and the New Testament writers in general on how they understood human conception, and how this thought contributed to the understanding of Jesus’ conception and identity.

These essays were based on an article written by Andrew Lincoln titled “How Babies Were Made in Jesus’ Time” that appeared in the Nov/Dec 2014 issue of Biblical Archeology Review.

 

 

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A Look Into Jesus’ Conception

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“The Nativity”, Lorenzo Lotto (1480 – 1556/57), 1523, oil on panel, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

 

This week, we will take a mini-break from Confessions and discuss the topic of the Virgin birth and Christology.

 

We will be going over an article from the November/December 2014 issue of Biblical Archeology Review titled “How Babies Were Made in Jesus’ Time” by Andrew Lincoln.  A brief synopsis of the article can be found here; for the complete article you have to order from the website.

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UPDATE: “Confessions”: Book VII – Chapters 11 – 21

 

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This past week we concluded Book VII of “Confessions” by covering chapters 11 – 21.

We had good conversations about human reason and the (Neoplatonic) discipline of focusing on spiritual things to draw closer to God; is Jesus the only way? and religious pluralism; the nature of Jesus; the nature of evil; the distinction between Creator and creation; the influence of Platonic thought on Christian education throughout the centuries and its problems.

We also had a stimulating discussion centering around the questions, “Who is Jesus?”  One can easily spurt out, “Oh, he’s my Lord and Savior.”  But if you trip away the “churchy” language everyone uses and really, really ask yourself who he is to you and what he really means to you (if anything), it might be harder than you think it is.  One reason I believe that it is so hard is because that question is also a very personal question as well.

You can read our essays here.

 

 

UPDATE: “Confessions”: Book IV: Chapters 9 – 16

 

 

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Augustine. Confessiones. BPH Ms 83. Manuscript on vellum. Germany, first half 13th century.

 

We have finished Book IV of Augustine’s Confessions.

 

We had discussions on excessive materialism, rampant anti-intellectualism within the Church, the nature of the knowledge of God, and experiences with God’s immanence.

 

Here are our essays on these topics.

 

 

“Confessions” – Book IV: Chapters 9 – 16

An olive tree that is believed to have been planted by Saint Augustine in Thagaste.

An olive tree that is believed to have been planted by Saint Augustine in Thagaste.

 

Yes, it’s been a while.  But we’re still here and ready to go ahead.

 

We will continue with Book IV, Chapters 9 – 16.

 

In this book, returning to Thagaste from his studies at Carthage, Augustine began to teach rhetoric, making friends and chasing a career along the way. Though giving some account of these worldly matters, Augustine spends much of Book IV examining his conflicted state of mind during this period. Having begun his turn toward God (through the desire for truth) but continuing to be ensnared in sinful ways, Augustine wrestled painfully with the transitory nature of the material world and with the question of God’s nature in relation to such a world.

 

The these sections, be mindful of how Manichaeism influenced his thoughts during this time and how he tries to rectify them now looking back.

 

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Plotinus and the Immortality of the Soul

It’s been a while since I last posted here, but we’re ready to kick things off with our new semester.

As stated, before heading straight into Augustine’s Confessions it is highly beneficial to understand where Augustine is coming from.  Before coming to the Christian faith, he was heavily influenced by the philosophy of Plotinus and Neo-Platonism.  You’ll find echoes of Plotinus and Neo-Platonism laced throughout Confessions.

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Why study Thomas Aquinas?

In Chapter 12 of Prof. MacCulloch’s book, he went over one of the great “doctors” of the Catholic Church, St. Thomas Aquinas.

In this clip, Dr.Simon Oliver from the University of Nottingham discusses why he devotes so much attention to the medieval Dominican theologian, Thomas Aquinas (1225-74); he argues that when someone today comes to grips with his thought, that learning experience trains one to think theologically.

Also added a link to the “Resources” Page for the University of Nottingham’s youtube channel. Great talks with professors about Christian theology, philosophy, church history, and religion.

New Update: Chapter 12: A Church for All People? (1100 – 1300)

New updates here for Chapter 12.  Please read our submissions.

We will be on break until January.

Chapter 12: A Church for All People? (1100 – 1300)

Hey everyone,

Next Wed. we will meet for the final PA meeting for 2013 when we will go over Chapter 12: A Church for All People? (1100 – 1300).

As we discussed last week in our meeting, please select and choose one topic to write on and let everyone know before the end of the week what topic you will be writing on.

This way, we can avoid having multiple writings on the same topic.

Bellini, Giovanni – “St. Francis in the Desert” c. 1480, The Frick Museum, NYC

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