In the seminar we will read four texts designed to provide guidance to the perplexed. Benedict’s monastic rule lays out the practices and attitudes he considers necessary to governing religious novices in successful communal pursuit of piety. Boethius wrote his Consolation while awaiting execution on trumped up charges of treason; in a dialogue between the prisoner and Lady Philosophy, he dramatizes the struggle to reconcile belief in an ordered universe, and in true happiness as an inviolable inner possession, with experience of suffering and injustice. Hildegard von Bingen’s Scivias explicates her personal visionary experience as a means to instruct a wayward clergy, and ultimately every Christian, in the ways of divine providence. Finally, Maimonides wrote his Guide for those perplexed by the seeming incompatibility between philosophical rationalism and the divine revelation contained in the Hebrew Bible.
In keeping with the guides we are reading in the seminar, the tutorial is concerned with the second part of the Divine Comedy, which includes not only Virgil’s ongoing guidance of the pilgrim Dante but the additional guidance of the Roman poet Statius along the way, of the poet’s muse Beatrice toward the end, and of the landscape itself throughout the poem. More systematically structured than the Inferno, Purgatorio seeks to make immediately perceptible the rational order of Christian penance and salvation.
Course OutlineREQUIRED TEXTS
- The Rule of St. Benedict in English, ed. Timothy Fry, OSB (Liturgical Press, 2019); ISBN-13: 978-0814612729.
- Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy, trans. Richard H. Green (Dover, 2002); ISBN-13: 978-0486421636.
- Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias, trans. Colomba Hart and Jane Bishop (Paulist Press, 1990); ISBN-13: 978-0809131303.
- Maimonides, The Guide of the Perplexed, trans. Chaim Rabin (Hackett, 1995); ISBN-13: 978-0872203242.
- Dante, Purgatorio, trans. Robert and Jean Hollander (Anchor, 2004). ISBN 978-0385497008.
Online registration deadline: Thursday, Sept 22 at 5 PM CT.