Knowledge of God in the Fathers

JPI 837

This course will address important questions: While Catholic dogma affirms that man can see God, in what does this ‘vision of God’ precisely consist; what is its real object; what are its limits? Does this vision deal only with eschatology, or is it an experience “inchoately” possible for man here and now, even if only through the speculum (mirror) of faith? What have “mystery” and “mysticism” meant from the very beginning of the Christian tradition? Does man desire to see God? Is this vision necessary in order to become a perfect human person? The goal of the seminar is to show: 1) that the affirmative answers to the questions above have deep roots lying in both the Old and New Testaments of Scripture itself and 2) how the Fathers achieved – more or less successfully – a creative synthesis of the genuine biblical inheritance with the contemplative ideal of Greek tradition. Focus will include study of biblical theophanies, especially of the Exodus; the complex origins of Christian mysticism, paying attention to both the platonic and the biblical understanding of “mystery”; Philo of Alexandria’s exegesis of the biblical passages studied, as well as insights drawn from Origen and Gregory of Nyssa.

 


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