In this year-long course, we will slowly read through and discuss two of the greatest, most important and influential works of systematic Christian theology before the early modern (Renaissance and Reformation) period of Western Civilization. By the end of the year, the student will have a very solid grasp of historic Eastern and Western theology, by which all later theology was influenced.
John of Damascus: "Concerning the Orthodox Faith is one of the most notable works of Christian antiquity. Its authority has always been great among the theologians of the East and West. The author collects in a single work the opinions of the ancient [Christian] writers scattered through many volumes, and systematizes and connects them in a logical whole. John of Damascus was able to give to the Church in the eighth century its first summary of connected theological opinions; his work is an inexhaustible thesaurus of tradition which became the standard for the great Scholastics who followed." -- Catholic EncyclopediaTexts:
Thomas Aquinas: "The [Compendium] was written for those who might desire a convenient synopsis of Christian teaching. Since he composed it during the last two years of his life, that is, in 1272-73, when he was at the height of his power and had already written the Summa Contra Gentiles and most of the Summa Theologica, the work possesses a sureness of mastery and an authority that endow it with extraordinary value... Thus the Compendium, written by St. Thomas is his full maturity, indicates what, to his clear mind, with its comprehensive theological grasp, is most important in theology. Indeed, the remarkable lucidity and brevity of the numerous points treated in the Compendium of Theology enable us to follow the unfolding of the thought of St. Thomas more inerrantly than is possible in any of the larger treatises." --Cyril Vollert, translator of the Compendium
Saint John of Damascus: The Fount of Knowledge (translated by Chase; buy on Amazon)
Aquinas' Shorter Summa (Compendium) (translated by Vollert; buy on Amazon)
Reading load will not be heavy - an average 25 pages per week or 5 pages per day. But it's profound reading, so along with the very short writing assignments, might take about 30-45 minutes per day. There will be a special forum board for the class on which students will post weekly short informal personal responses (non-graded) to the reading, any assigned questions, and class discussion. There will also be one final paper of 3-5 pages. That's it: reading, responses, one final paper.
Course Prerequisites and Audience
The class is open to everyone aged 16 and up, students and adults alike, but the student should be a good reader with some experience of Greek, Roman, and Medieval history and literature (i.e., the equivalent of Schola GB1, 2, and 3, or the Old Western Culture curriculum or something like those), for the sake of the greater historical context, though this is not a strict requirement. The older the student, the more he or she will get out of this course (but that's true of most studies), so adults, college age and up, are warmly encouraged to join the class as well as high school age students 16 and older.
Go to the Online Tutorials page for information on schedule, fees, registration, contacting the instructor, and other information.
If you're interested in the course but the scheduling is a problem, note that the class will be recorded and you can purchase access to the recordings to listen to at your leisure. The fee for this is half the regular tuition.