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Posts Tagged ‘The Fathers’

On the Soul and the Resurrection continues, as St. Macrina moves back into more speculative territory. She really seems to have liked the idea of the soul swanning around in the world in atoms. Well, that hadn’t all been worked out yet, so she had a right to speculate.

We also get some very fun similes, which she uses for how the soul hangs out with atoms, but which St. Greg points out are more suited to proving the possibility of resurrection in the exact same body.

We also have more fun with Greco-Roman speculation about the antipodes. Apparently some people, pagans and otherwise, thought Hades was logically on the opposite part of the globe to where they lived, and that this constituted “the underworld”. If St. M had believed this, she’d have believed her soul was somewhere out in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and South America. So it’s a good thing she knew souls were immaterial and not bound by place! (Antipodemap.com figures this stuff out for you, btw.)

Part 6.

21:03.

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On the Soul and the Resurrection is a philosophical and theological dialogue between St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Macrina, when she was on her deathbed, and he was freaking out. (Another brother, St. Basil the Great, had just died a few months back, and St. Gregory was still mourning him when he found out his eldest sister was about to kick the bucket, too.) It’s probably fictionalized for educational purposes, but also seems to try to preserve St. Macrina’s teaching as faithfully as possible. I think you’ll find it interesting, especially once it really gets rolling next week.

This dialogue comes chronologically right after Part 2 and before Part 3 of The Life of St. Macrina. I’ll finish up The Life next week or so (there’s about three parts to go); but On the Soul and the Resurrection will take a lot longer.

Part 1.

9:30.

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The Life of St. Macrina continues, as she persuades her mother to turn the household into a religious community.

Part 2.

18:14.

I have to say that I really love the 4th century habit of calling the religious life or the Christian life “philosophy”, and of calling religious and hermits “philosophers”. It’s beautiful and fitting, but also very very Greek. 🙂

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The Life of St. Macrina is a biography — or to be exact, a panegyric or praise — of a brilliant, well-educated, well-born, rich, and beautiful lady of the Roman Empire, (from what today is Turkey) who chose the religious life over any other form of happiness. (Also, there’s a lot about her mother, St. Emmelia. That lady’s not named in the book, but you probably wanted to know.)

It was written by one of her little brothers, St. Gregory of Nyssa. He was the comparative black sheep of the ten children in this extremely Christian family descended from confessors of the faith, and yet he turned out to become a bishop and famous theologian. Some black sheep. 🙂

Part 1.

22:48.

Btw, Roger Pearse said I should record some more of his stuff soon. So now you know where I found the text of The Life of St. Macrina. 🙂

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On Christian Doctrine continues as St. Augustine advances the old “spoils of the Egyptians” argument, and tells us what attitude to use in studying Scripture.

Next week, we’ll start Book 3!

Book 2, Chapters 39-42.

14:35.

UPDATE: Link fixed. Sigh. This is why I don’t do webpages anymore.

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On Christian Doctrine continues, and so does St. Augustine’s list of useful studies for Bible study or for Christians. Now he spends time justifying logic and rhetoric.

Book 2, Chapters 31-38.

20:12.

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On Christian Doctrine continues, as St. Augustine divvies up purely human institutions and learning into what he thinks useful for Christians, or for Bible study, and what is not. (Kinda Plato’s Republic-y, when you think about it.)

Seeing as all that Dan Brown stuff is sure that Christianity hates science, it’s rather amusing to point out that St. Augustine, like most of the early Fathers, takes it for granted that the study of the natural sciences is the easiest part of worldly knowledge to justify to Christians — much easier than philosophy or rhetoric. Even though he can’t find strict utility for most of astronomy and even though it has so many pagan and divinatory associations, it’s not long before he’s using astronomy as an example again. The tie between close study of Creation and appreciative love of the Creator is obvious to him, and he expects it to be obvious to anyone who puts any effort at all into thinking.

Book 2, Chapters 25-30

17:26.

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