August 28 – December 15
Last Day to Register: August 28
For early Christians, the Scriptures were not only a source of doctrinal information. They were also “wells” from which worshipers drew “living water” and were refreshed (Origen), “chaste delights” for those who sought their inner meaning (Augustine), and “weapons of the spirit” in the battle against temptation of every kind (Evagrius). This course explores the reading of the Bible in early Christian dogmatic debates, liturgical worship, social engagement, and spiritual formation—in short, in every aspect of Christian life. As we approach the Fathers’ rich and complex engagement with Scripture, we will seek to identify and understand the theological principles that animated their biblical practices. The Fathers teach us a method of exegesis that is, in one sense, unrepeatable as a reflection of the genius of its unique age, but is also, in another sense, irreplaceable as a resource for renewing biblical reading in our own age and for understanding the theological tradition of the Church. Hence, we will consider how an appreciation of patristic scriptural exegesis might renew our own use of the Bible in prayer, study, evangelization, and catechesis. “The Fathers of the Church, who had a particular role in the process of the formation of the canon, likewise have a foundational role in relation to the living tradition which unceasingly accompanies and guides the Church’s reading and interpretation of Scripture. Within the broader current of the great Tradition, the particular contribution of patristic exegesis consists in this: to have drawn out from the totality of Scripture the basic orientations which shaped the doctrinal tradition of the Church, and to have provided a rich theological teaching for the instruction and spiritual sustenance of the faithful” (Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, III.B.2 ) Texts include: On Teaching Christianity (Augustine, more commonly: “On Christian Doctrine”), An Exhortation to Martyrdom, Prayer, and Selected Works (Origen); The Life of Moses (Gregory of Nyssa).