Lecture 3 theological method
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Lecture 3 Theological Method. Dr. Ann T. Orlando Sept. 18, 2008. Outline. Augustine’s Approach to Theology: Biblical Exegesis Medieval Reliance on Augustine Lombard Aquinas Luther and Calvin: Augustine against the Scholastics Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger). Define Theological Method.

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Lecture 3 Theological Method

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Lecture 3 theological method

Lecture 3Theological Method

Dr. Ann T. Orlando

Sept. 18, 2008



  • Augustine’s Approach to Theology: Biblical Exegesis

  • Medieval Reliance on Augustine

    • Lombard

    • Aquinas

  • Luther and Calvin: Augustine against the Scholastics

  • Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger)

Define theological method

Define Theological Method

  • Theology: study of God

  • Method: tools and approach to pursue that study

  • Systematic theology: organization and pursuit of theology as one connected, coherent philosophical system

Augustine s theological method

Augustine’s Theological Method

  • Entirely based on Scripture illuminated by God’s grace

    • Illumination both personal and ecclesial

  • Biblical exegesis was the primary method for doing theology

    • But exegetical approach could use a variety of ‘secular’ tools

  • Augustine wrote almost all of his works as a response to someone or some issue

On christian teaching

On Christian Teaching

  • Written 396 - 400; audience is primarily preachers, especially bishops

  • Augustine tells us he divided the material into two parts:

    • Rules for Interpreting Scripture (Part I: Books I-III) and

    • Preaching Scripture (Part 2: Book IV)

  • How to interpret and preach ambiguous and difficult Scripture passages

  • Book I

    • Difference between enjoying something and using it; we should use this world, not enjoy it, in order to return home to God

    • “Anyone who thinks they have understood Scripture but cannot by his understanding build up this double love of God and neighbor, has not yet succeeded in understanding it” (I.xxxvi)

On christian teaching cont

On Christian Teaching (Cont.)

  • Book II

    • Theory of signs

    • To properly read Scripture, must make spiritual ascent ; seven stages of ascent

    • List of OT and NT canon of Scripture

    • Use Scripture to interpret Scripture

    • Problems of translating into Latin; preachers should know Greek and Hebrew

    • “The authority of the Septuagint is supreme” (II.xv)

    • Importance of knowing history, geography, astronomy, mathematics and logic in studying Scripture

  • Book III

    • “By love I mean the impulse of one’s mind to enjoy God on his own account and to enjoy oneself and one’s neighbor on account of God; and by lust I mean the impulse of one’s mind to enjoy oneself and one’s neighbor and any corporeal thing not on account of God.” (III.x)

    • All deeds of OT are to be interpreted figuratively as well as literally

    • Seven rules of Tyconius

On christian teaching cont1

On Christian Teaching (Cont)

  • Book IV

    • Rhetoric can be used to convince people of falsehood; Christian preacher should first of all be concerned to preach the truth

    • By reading and studying Christian literature outside of canon, preacher can learn how to preach

    • “The wisdom of what a person says is in direct proportion to his progress in learning the holy Scriptures – and I am not speaking of intensive reading or memorization, but real understanding and careful investigation of their meaning.” (IV.v)

    • Before preaching, the preacher should lift his soul to God

    • The benefit of preaching is effected by God

    • Styles of preaching

Against the foundational epistle of mani

Against the Foundational Epistle of Mani

  • This epistle probably was written by Mani (d. 250) as a summary of Manichean beliefs to be used my Manichean missionaries

  • Augustine follows the structure of the letter to refute Manichaeism; probably written early in his career as bishop

  • Note how Augustine addresses his readers (assumed to be Manicheans)

  • Relation between apostolicity of Church and truth of Gospels (Ch. 5)

  • Note development of Trinitarian doctrine of “not one person, but one existence” (Ch. 6)

  • Read Chapters 1-6 (emphasis on 5)

Middle ages significance of augustine augustine becomes part of method

Middle AgesSignificance of Augustine:Augustine Becomes Part of Method

  • ‘Systematic’ incorporation of Church Fathers as magisterial

    • Especially the way to interpret Scripture

    • Conclusions of Church Fathers becomes a touchstone of proper theological conclusions

  • Augustine by far the most important of Church Fathers

  • Universities solidify academic approach to theology

Peter lombard 1100 1160

Peter Lombard (1100-1160)

  • Professor of theology of Cathedral School of Notre Dame and Archbishop of Paris

  • Wrote Sentences (1150)as a way to organize teaching of the Church Fathers to explicate Catholic teaching

  • Most influential text in Middle Ages

    • Required that all Masters of Theology write a commentary on Sentences

  • Lombard became was known as the Magister



  • Organized in four Books

    • God and the Trinity

    • Creation

    • Incarnation and Redemption

    • Sacraments

  • In 13th C Books subdivided into “distinctiones” (breaks in reading)

  • Read Book I, Distinction 1

Systematic theology aquinas 1225 1274

Systematic Theology: Aquinas (1225-1274)

  • Aquinas (like everyone else) writes a Commentary on the Sentences

  • Over his family’s objections he joins Order of Preachers (Dominicans)

  • Studies in Paris, and becomes master and doctor of theology

  • Incorporates newly translated works of Aristotle into theological method

    • Recall what Augustine had to say about Aristotle

  • Famously engaged in theological quarrels with the greatest Franciscan of the time, also a professor at Paris, St. Bonaventure

    • Who also wrote a commentary on the Sentences

Summa theologiae structure

Summa TheologiaeStructure

  • Three Parts

    • Prima Pars, Ia

    • Secunda Pars, itself in two parts, Iae IIa and IIae IIa

    • Terce Pars, IIIa

  • Each part divided into questions, each question into articles (also phrased as a question)

  • Each article divided into

    • Specific Objections

    • On the Contrary

    • I answer that…

    • Specific replies to objections

  • Read Ia Q1 a1-a10, http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1001.htm

Things to notice in lombard

Things to Notice in Lombard

  • Is there an historical context to use of Augustine?

  • Are limits placed on applicability of Augustine?

Renaissance and reformation significance of augustine

Renaissance and ReformationSignificance of Augustine

  • Theology moved too far from Scripture

  • Philosophy (Aristotle) not a suitable tool for exegesis

  • Emphasis on personal not ecclesial (tradition) exegesis

    • Classical works should be read and analyzed directly, not through the lens of tradition

  • Emphasis on philology, not philosophy

  • Augustine enlisted in cause of direct Biblical study

Martin luther 1483 1546

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

  • Augustinian Hermit Monk

  • Comes to view scholastic methods as diverging from true meaning of Scripture

    • Return to Scripture (Sola Scripture)

  • Returns to original languages of Bible, and creates a German translation

    • Follows best available Hebrew text, rejects Septuagint

  • Read Against Scholastics

John calvin 1509 1564

John Calvin (1509-1564)

  • Raised in a French Catholic family

  • Studied civil law (not theology)

  • Through influence of reform friends, moved away from Catholicism in 1533

  • Started writing the Institutes of Christian Religion 1536, worked on various editions complete in 1559, but revised until his death

  • He spent most of his later adult life in Geneva

Calvin and augustine

Calvin and Augustine

  • Calvin argued that the reformers were returning theology to what Augustine had intended – an emphasis on scripture, faith and grace (Luther’s three solas)

  • “Augustine is so completely of our persuasion”

Institutes of christian religion

Institutes of Christian Religion

  • Four Books

    • I. Knowledge of God the Creator

    • II. Knowledge of God the Redeemer

    • III. The Grace of Christ

    • IV. The Holy Catholic Church

  • Books are divided into Chapters

  • Read I.7, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.iii.viii.html

Things to note in institutes

Things to Note in Institutes

  • Note Calvin’s argument in similarities and differences with Augustine in Against Foundational Epistle of Mani (AFEM)

  • Role of Spirit vs apostolicity

  • Calvin’s use of context of Augustine’s AFEM

  • Is Calvin sympathetic or admiring in Institutes I.7?

Modernity and historical critical method

Modernity and Historical Critical Method

  • ‘Scientific’ revolution

    • Empiricism becomes only valid method of knowing

  • Historical critical method an attempt to apply ‘scientific’ historical analysis to Scripture

    • Past interpretations all historically conditioned, and may not be valid for modernity

    • Essence of Christianity found in historical Gospels, not later doctrinal developments

    • Only valid interpretative method because it is ‘scientific’

Pope leo xiii aeterni patris

Pope Leo XIII Aeterni Patris

  • Promulgated 1879 to counter reliance on only scientific method

  • But also a rejection of Reformation’s rejection of Scholasticism

  • Call to return to Aquinas

  • Note how Augustine is used

Benedict xvi and jesus of nazareth

Benedict XVI and Jesus of Nazareth

  • Published 2006

  • A personal (not ex cathedra) meditation on Jesus and Gospels

  • Compare methods with De Doctrina Christiana

  • What is meaning/significance that this is personal and not papal?

  • Note that Augustine is not explicitly referenced in preface. But are there Augustinian influences?

    • Should we are readers of Benedict XVI assume because of other things he has written?

Reading assignment

Reading Assignment

  • Augustine,

    • On Christian Teaching, Books II and III

    • Against the Foundational Epistle of Mani, Ch 1-6

  • Peter Lombard, Sentences, Book I, Distinction 1, available at http://www.franciscan-archive.org/lombardus/opera/ls1-01.html

  • Aquinas, ST Ia, 1,1; http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1001.htm (skim)

  • Luther, Against the Scholastics (skim)

  • Calvin, Institutes I.7, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.iii.viii.html

  • Leo XIII, Aeterni Patris (skim) http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_04081879_aeterni-patris_en.html

  • Joseph Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazareth, Forward, New York: Doubleday, 2007. pp xi-xxiv.

  • Possible Paper Themes:

    • Role of Church in theological method

    • How Lombard and Calvin use Augustine

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