It has been silent around here for a couple of months and many changes have occurred in that time.
A year or so ago I announced that I would be attending St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. Unfortunately, due to various circumstances, I was unable to go. I took a chance and reapplied for this fall academic year and was accepted into Wheaton’s PhD program. I’m excited to work under Dr. George Kalantzis and to be part of the Center for Early Christian Studies. I don’t know what this is going to do for this blog, but I do hope to continue posting on all things patristic and philosophical when time permits.
On May 21st my wife had to have an emergency C-section and our daughter was born eight weeks early. Needless to say, this has dismembered every semblance of a “plan” we had for this summer, but both my wife and the baby are doing well and we are excited to have her here.
Dr. George Kalantzis recently gave a lecture at the 2013 Wheaton Theology Conference entitled A Witness to the Nations: Early Christianity and Narratives of Power. (Audio | Video) You can check out the other lectures from the conference here.
I ran across this short video of Andrew Louth discussing the relationship between Christianity and Neoplatonism in Late Antiquity, and I think it is a nice follow-up to my previous post about the dangers of what I call the specter of influence. He notes that to ask the question of influence is really to see things the wrong way. What we see in the time period of the Early Church are both Christians and Neoplatonist asking similar question in a shared cultural context that expresses itself in similar ways, but by no means necessarily reaching the same conclusions. This, I think, is a more sober way to approach the issue, and it opens up new vistas for exploring the distinct, and often subtle, contribution of individual authors.
In studying the history of Christian thought, much of my time is spent on tracing the genealogy of ideas. Where did it come from? Was it his/her idea? Did he/she get it from someone else? How did it change? As such, the question of influence often comes up. Who influenced this person in his/her thinking? Now, questions of influence are helpful in deepening our understanding of concepts that may not be clear. For example, if author (A) says something strange or uses a certain word that doesn’t make sense, tracing the idea to predecessors or contemporaries may help elucidate it meaning in (A)’s writings, or make it clear that he/she has developed the idea further. We may not know whether the idea is being consciously adopted/adapted or whether he/she picked it up as part of their cultural environment (that is a different but important question), but the question of influence helps explain what he/she meant.
For those who keep up with the History of Philosophy without Any Gaps podcast (and if you don’t, you should), Dr. Adamson officially finished out his series on Late Antiquity and will be moving on to the Medieval period. Here are the links to all of the episodes specifically devoted to the Early Church: Continue reading →
I first heard of J. Focken’s dissertation (De Gregorii Nazianzeni Orationum et Carminum Dogmaticorum Argumentandi Ratione) reading through Frederick W. Norris’ introduction to his commentary on Gregory of Nazianzus’ Five Theological Orations (Faith Gives Fullness to Reasoning: The Five Theological Orations of Gregory Nazianzen, Leiden: Brill, 1991). He (Norris) seemed to rely heavily on Focken’s analysis, and so I thought it worth looking for. Finding the bibliography, I noticed that it was published in 1912, and so wondered if it was now public domain. I was having very little success until I stumbled upon a microfilm version of it on Archive.org:
http://archive.org/details/degregoriinazian00fock ! What’s even better is that it’s written in Latin (as all good dissertations once were), so it would be a great way for me to practice. Enjoy!