Special Issue "Teaching Augustine"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 January 2015).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Scott McGinnis
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Religion Department, Howard College of Arts and Sciences, Samford University, Birmingham, AL 35229, USA
Interests: Christianity in early modern england; teaches cultural perspectives; Christian theology; tolerance and freedom in Christian thought; the craft of religious studies; contemporary theology
Dr. Christopher Metress
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Office of Academic Affairs, Samford University, Birmingham, AL 35229, USA
Interests: American literature (particularly literary works from the American South); African American studies; film noir; detective fiction; the Christian intellectual tradition; interdisciplinary pedagogy; religion and civil
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue will publish articles based on papers presented at the Teaching the Christian Intellectual Tradition Conference held at Samford October 2-4. The conference theme, “Augustine Across the Curriculum,” explored pedagogical methods for integrating the study of Augustine into undergraduate curriculums, particularly but not exclusively general education and Core Texts programs. The pedagogical focus of the conference will extend to the special issue and will differentiate this issue in the vast field of Augustinian studies.

As sponsor of the conference, this Special Issue invites all the participants to publish their extended conference papers after peer
review, without Article Processing Charges.

Dr. Scott McGinnis
Dr. Chris Metress
Guest Editors

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Keywords

  • Augustine
  • pedagogy
  • Core Texts/Great Books programs
  • History of Christianity

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Teaching Augustine—Introduction
Religions 2015, 6(3), 1107-1112; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6031107 - 11 Sep 2015
Viewed by 2003
Abstract
This introduction to the Special Issue “Teaching Augustine” summarizes the volume’s essays and discusses the conference at which they were initially presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Augustine)

Research

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Article
Teaching Socrates, Aristotle, and Augustine on Akrasia
Religions 2015, 6(2), 419-433; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6020419 - 09 Apr 2015
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2842
Abstract
A long-standing debate among moral philosophers centers on the question of whether ignorance is always at the root of moral wrongdoing, or whether, in certain cases, wrongdoing stems from something else—namely akrasia. This paper is a discussion of how undergraduate core curriculum [...] Read more.
A long-standing debate among moral philosophers centers on the question of whether ignorance is always at the root of moral wrongdoing, or whether, in certain cases, wrongdoing stems from something else—namely akrasia. This paper is a discussion of how undergraduate core curriculum teachers can incorporate Augustine’s work into this debate. I begin by briefly reconstructing Socrates’ and Aristotle’s accounts of wrongdoing, and then I sketch an Augustinian approach to the issue. Socrates contends that ignorance is the fundamental source of all wrongdoing; hence, akrasia is illusory. Though Aristotle’s view can seem more roundabout than Socrates’, it, too, is plausibly interpreted as entailing that robust, open-eyed akrasia is impossible. For Augustine, prior to receiving the illumination that comes with God’s grace, an individual’s sinfulness can be characterized as being the result of ignorance concerning the proper focus of one’s love. However, after receiving this illuminating grace, sinful action can be characterized as an instance of akrasia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Augustine)
Article
The Justice Game: Augustine, Disordered Loves, and the Temptation to Change the World
Religions 2015, 6(2), 409-418; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6020409 - 08 Apr 2015
Viewed by 2411
Abstract
Augustine’s thought on justice offers enduring wisdom to today’s undergraduates as they grapple with the difficult questions that arise when they ponder what it means to change the world in the light of the reality of injustice in this world. By juxtaposing Augustine’s [...] Read more.
Augustine’s thought on justice offers enduring wisdom to today’s undergraduates as they grapple with the difficult questions that arise when they ponder what it means to change the world in the light of the reality of injustice in this world. By juxtaposing Augustine’s theological writings on the nature of justice and power within the earthly and heavenly cities with Augustine’s letters that demonstrate his public engagement with injustice, we learn how Augustine thought about justice and how his convictions intersected with his practice. Through exposure to Augustine’s life and thought, students can be encouraged to wrestle with the existence of injustice, their complicity in its existence, their understanding of justice, and what it takes to seek justice today. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Augustine)
Article
Teaching Augustine’s On the Teacher
Religions 2015, 6(2), 404-408; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6020404 - 08 Apr 2015
Viewed by 2491
Abstract
This paper examines the merits of introducing undergraduates to the philosophical thought of Augustine by means of his short dialogue On the Teacher. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Augustine)
Article
Deposito Diademate: Augustine’s Emperors
Religions 2015, 6(2), 317-327; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6020317 - 31 Mar 2015
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2423
Abstract
To assist colleagues from other disciplines who teach Augustine’s texts in their core courses, this contribution to the Lilly Colloquium discusses Augustine’s assessments of Emperors Constantine and Theodosius. His presentations of their tenure in office and their virtues suggest that his position on [...] Read more.
To assist colleagues from other disciplines who teach Augustine’s texts in their core courses, this contribution to the Lilly Colloquium discusses Augustine’s assessments of Emperors Constantine and Theodosius. His presentations of their tenure in office and their virtues suggest that his position on political leadership corresponds with his general skepticism about political platforms and platitudes. Yet careful reading of his revision of Ambrose’s account of Emperor Theodosius’s public penance and reconsideration of the last five sections of his fifth book City of God—as well as a reappraisal of several of his sermons on the Psalms—suggest that he proposes a radical alternative to political conformity relevant to undergraduates’ conventional expectations of society’s progress and their parts in it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Augustine)
Article
The Physics of Augustine: The Matter of Time, Change and an Unchanging God
Religions 2015, 6(1), 221-244; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6010221 - 17 Mar 2015
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3061
Abstract
Scientific questions posed by St. Augustine, early father of the Christian church, are presented as a part of a proposed undergraduate course for religion and philosophy students. Augustine regularly seasons his religious, philosophical and moral investigations with analysis focused on the physical nature [...] Read more.
Scientific questions posed by St. Augustine, early father of the Christian church, are presented as a part of a proposed undergraduate course for religion and philosophy students. Augustine regularly seasons his religious, philosophical and moral investigations with analysis focused on the physical nature of the universe and how it can be quantified: “And yet, O Lord, we do perceive intervals of time, and we compare them with each other, and we say that some are longer and others are shorter” (Confessions, Book 11). The physical analysis is sometimes extended, pressing the attention and grasp of the unsuspecting student of religion or philosophy. Though Augustine emphasizes that true knowledge comes from faith and revelation, his physical inquiries imply that he values such analysis as a way toward truth. In contrast, Master of Divinity programs, which train the majority of Western Christian ministers, require little science experience and usually no physics. Serious investigation of Augustine’s physical explorations reveal an alternative way of understanding scripture, especially Jesus’ sayings: could the master engineer who created the universe sometimes be speaking in straightforward scientific terms? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Augustine)
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Article
Augustine’s De Musica in the 21st Century Music Classroom
Religions 2015, 6(1), 211-220; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6010211 - 12 Mar 2015
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3117
Abstract
Augustine’s De musica is all that remains of his ambitious plan to write a cycle of works describing each of the liberal arts in terms of Christian faith and is actually unfinished; whereas the six books extant today primarily examine rhythm, Augustine intended [...] Read more.
Augustine’s De musica is all that remains of his ambitious plan to write a cycle of works describing each of the liberal arts in terms of Christian faith and is actually unfinished; whereas the six books extant today primarily examine rhythm, Augustine intended to write about melody also. The sixth book of De musica was better known in late Antiquity and the Middle Ages than the first five, and it takes up philosophical questions of aesthetics related to the proportionate ordering discernable throughout creation. After a brief introduction summarizing De musica’s content and its importance in subsequent Christian writings, my presentation outlines and explains how I have used this document in my own music classes. For example, my students learn that a vital notion in Augustine’s writings, and in Neoplatonism more broadly, is the spiritual benefit of academic study. That is, through study of music, one gains insight into the created order, but, more importantly, one’s soul is strengthened and trained to perceive higher realities of the cosmos such as the ordering of the planetary spheres and the progression of celestial hierarchies, which span the spiritual distance from God to humanity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Augustine)
Article
Naming the Mystery: An Augustinian Ideal
Religions 2015, 6(1), 204-210; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6010204 - 12 Mar 2015
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2417
Abstract
This article, by noticing Augustine’s constant questioning, shows that he often talks about not knowing and about his need for God’s help to know more. It is therefore better to see how he identifies the mystery than to focus on his answers, because [...] Read more.
This article, by noticing Augustine’s constant questioning, shows that he often talks about not knowing and about his need for God’s help to know more. It is therefore better to see how he identifies the mystery than to focus on his answers, because he too recognizes his limits. His intellectual prowess can be seen more clearly when he “names the mystery” than by thinking that he has solved it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Augustine)
Article
Teaching Augustine’s Confessions in the Context of Mercer’s Great Books Program
Religions 2015, 6(1), 107-112; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6010107 - 16 Feb 2015
Viewed by 2464
Abstract
Students in Mercer University’s Great Books program read Augustine’s Confessions in the third semester of a seven-semester sequence. Their previous reading of Greek and Roman epics and philosophical treatises as well as Biblical material equips them with a solid foundation for reading and [...] Read more.
Students in Mercer University’s Great Books program read Augustine’s Confessions in the third semester of a seven-semester sequence. Their previous reading of Greek and Roman epics and philosophical treatises as well as Biblical material equips them with a solid foundation for reading and discussing Augustine. This essay reflects on that preparation and models ways that instructors can use opening discussion questions related to those earlier readings to guide students into substantive reflection on the Confessions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Augustine)
Article
Augustine’s Introduction to Political Philosophy: Teaching De Libero Arbitrio, Book I
Religions 2015, 6(1), 82-91; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6010082 - 30 Jan 2015
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Abstract
Book I of Augustine’s work On Free Choice (De Libero Arbitrio) offers a helpful introduction to some of the most important themes of political philosophy. The paper makes a case for teaching this text in introductory courses on political thought, theology [...] Read more.
Book I of Augustine’s work On Free Choice (De Libero Arbitrio) offers a helpful introduction to some of the most important themes of political philosophy. The paper makes a case for teaching this text in introductory courses on political thought, theology of social life, and similar topics, alongside or even in place of the more usually assigned excerpts from City of God. The text is written as a dialogue in which Augustine seeks to introduce a student of his to reflection on the ways in which our moral outlook is profoundly shaped by our political citizenship. It invites all of us, whether Christian or non-Christian citizens, to enter into the dialogue ourselves as Augustine’s students and so to reflect on the moral significance of our own citizenship. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Augustine)

Other

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Essay
Augustine’s Confessions: Interiority at the Core of the Core Curriculum
Religions 2015, 6(3), 755-762; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6030755 - 24 Jun 2015
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1859
Abstract
When St. Bonaventure University decided to redesign its core curriculum, we turned to Bonaventure’s account of the mind’s journey to God in the Itinerarium Mentis in Deum as a paradigm by which to give coherence to the undergraduate experience consistent with our mission [...] Read more.
When St. Bonaventure University decided to redesign its core curriculum, we turned to Bonaventure’s account of the mind’s journey to God in the Itinerarium Mentis in Deum as a paradigm by which to give coherence to the undergraduate experience consistent with our mission and tradition. Bonaventure was himself an Augustinian philosopher and thus Augustine’s Confessions holds a place of great significance in our first year seminar where it is studied in conjunction with Bonaventure’s inward turn to find God imprinted on his soul. This paper is an account of the original rationale for including Augustine’s Confessions in our curriculum and a report of continuing faculty and student attitudes towards that text nearly two decades later. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Augustine)
Conference Report
Modern Restlessness, from Hobbes to Augustine
Religions 2015, 6(2), 626-637; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6020626 - 11 May 2015
Viewed by 2361
Abstract
Only with difficulty do modern readers grasp the full import of Augustine’s confession, “Restless is our heart, until it rests in you”, or seriously consider that it might be true. An unexpected remedy is to be found in reading Thomas Hobbes, who introduces [...] Read more.
Only with difficulty do modern readers grasp the full import of Augustine’s confession, “Restless is our heart, until it rests in you”, or seriously consider that it might be true. An unexpected remedy is to be found in reading Thomas Hobbes, who introduces and defends the view of happiness that is now commonly accepted without argument. According to Hobbes, human beings find their happiness not in a single, supreme good but in many objects, the securing of which requires a lifelong quest for power. But this teaching, influential and revealing though it is, fails to satisfy. Meditating on that dissatisfaction is a first step towards more serious engagement with Augustine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Augustine)
Conference Report
Seeking the Place of Conscience in Higher Education: An Augustinian View
Religions 2015, 6(2), 286-298; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6020286 - 24 Mar 2015
Viewed by 2654
Abstract
This article explores the place of conscience in higher education. It begins by reconstructing the place of conscience in Augustine’s thought, drawing on Augustine’s reading of Genesis 3, the Psalms, and his own spiritual journey. Its basic aim is to clarify Augustine’s account [...] Read more.
This article explores the place of conscience in higher education. It begins by reconstructing the place of conscience in Augustine’s thought, drawing on Augustine’s reading of Genesis 3, the Psalms, and his own spiritual journey. Its basic aim is to clarify Augustine’s account of conscience as self-judgment, identifying the conditions under which self-judgment occurs. After identifying these conditions it addresses the question: does conscience still have a place in modern higher education? It acknowledges the real limitations and obstacles to moral education when pursued in the context of the modern research university. However, it also argues that moral education proceeds in stages, and that educators can anticipate and clear a way for the place of conscience—though not, of course, without reliance on the movement of grace. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Augustine)
Essay
Augustine and Autobiography: Confessions as a Roadmap for Self-Reflection
Religions 2015, 6(1), 139-145; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6010139 - 05 Mar 2015
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3519
Abstract
In this article, I explore a pedagogical strategy for teaching Augustine’s Confessions to undergraduate students, which involves a final essay assignment. In the assignment, students compose their own “confessions” at the end of the term that employs Augustine’s Confessions as a roadmap for [...] Read more.
In this article, I explore a pedagogical strategy for teaching Augustine’s Confessions to undergraduate students, which involves a final essay assignment. In the assignment, students compose their own “confessions” at the end of the term that employs Augustine’s Confessions as a roadmap for rigorous self-reflection. Like Augustine, they must employ a creative literary frame, without duplicating his rhetorical technique of framing his autobiography as a prayer to God. Moreover, they must reflect on the salient questions, key people, pivotal moments that have shaped them, and analyze their shifts in worldviews. The assignment aims to demystify Augustine and to reinforce the evolving nature of the self as it moves through time and absorbs new ideas and experiences, as well as helping students begin to formulate a coherent and constructive life narrative. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Augustine)
Conference Report
Augustine, Addiction and Lent: A Pedagogic Exercise
Religions 2015, 6(1), 113-121; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6010113 - 25 Feb 2015
Viewed by 2356
Abstract
The article describes a series of pedagogic exercises developed to help students in a General Education course at a Jesuit university to engage fruitfully with Augustine’s Confessions in a way that will facilitate and deepen their understanding of a classic text of the [...] Read more.
The article describes a series of pedagogic exercises developed to help students in a General Education course at a Jesuit university to engage fruitfully with Augustine’s Confessions in a way that will facilitate and deepen their understanding of a classic text of the Western tradition and, at the same time, promote their personal formation in keeping with the goals of Ignatian pedagogy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Augustine)
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