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St. Augustine on Figurative Language in Scripture

In humanities coursework, we often train students to first identify formula and pattern. Lists and examples abound—symbolism, allegory, metaphor, simile, personification. We insist there is greater meaning. We demand analysis. It’s true that we need to establish a foundation of both concrete terms and appreciation in our students. But sometimes this means of analysis turns... Continue Reading →

The Humanity of Horace

Son of a former slave, Quintus Horatius Flaccus writes of the best and worst of men in first century BC. Though he grew up in a small Italian village, Horace received the best of educations in Rome, culminating in a grand tour of Athens. There, however, he was quickly swayed by Brutus, Julius Caesar’s assassin,... Continue Reading →

On Romantic Literature

By the time Mary Shelley published Frankenstein in 1818—it could be argued her Modern Prometheus was the quintessence of Romantic literature—it would seem the Romantic era was already approaching its zenith. Just 20 years earlier Wordsworth and Coleridge had published their Lyrical Ballads, believed by most to be the “the premiere volume of English Romanticism,”... Continue Reading →

Finding Meaning in Literature

In chapter two of Christianity and Literature, Jeffrey and Maillet lament, “Many literary majors…graduate without any clear sense of whether literary theory enables them to find…any truth, goodness, beauty or even any meaning in literature.” In response to this dismal assessment, indulge me a brief opportunity to summarize the three theories of truth—truth being the... Continue Reading →

Untethered τέχνη

  The polls tell us that we as a collective whole are becoming less religious and less concerned about sacred and holy things, at least in the Western world. At the same time we are becoming more and more entranced with science and technology, what the ancient Greeks called τέχνη (Techne). Most people walk around... Continue Reading →

On Speaking Well

In recent years, speaking well has become an educational ideal for graduates at many institutions. Able speakers can convey their thoughts and intents with both ease and confidence. Isocrates, the pre-socratic rhetorician, terms it “assurance.” Unfortunately, courses in rhetoric and speech aren’t always required, and a number of graduates would find it difficult to present, let... Continue Reading →

An Existential Evaluation

If you have ever wondered why you exist, or if you had a purpose in the world—if there was a place in this complex universe designed specifically for you—congratulations! You’re human. Wondering about the meaning of life, and about your place in the universe is sometimes referred to as an existential crisis. But since it’s a... Continue Reading →

Groping For God: How the Greeks Anticipated the Coming of Christ

  In the gospel of John, we read about some Greeks who come to Philip and ask to see Jesus. Rumors and news about Christ have been circulating and these men are longing to make his acquaintance. The text says: “Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So... Continue Reading →

Dante’s Dalliance with the History of Language

  As a scholar and writer, Dante Alighieri intentionally published a number of works in everyday Italian. Though this was most unusual for medieval writers who favored Latin, he felt this commonality of language would broaden his audience and perhaps strengthen the superiority of the Italian language. He may have had an ulterior motive, but... Continue Reading →

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