Study Plans

I’ve been planning out a tentative schedule for the structure of my PhD. Here’s what its looking like so far, with notes below:

Fall 2012: seminar on the Doctrine of the Atonement, and Latin
Winter 2013: Independent Reading I
Spring 2013: Independent Reading II
Summer 2013: German
Fall 2013: Historiography seminar
Winter 2014: seminar on the Doctrine of the Trinity
Spring 2014: seminar on Calvin/Calvinism
Summer 2014: French
Fall 2014: Independent Reading III, and preparation for comprehensive exams

Then I would take my comps and start my dissertation on St. Anselm’s Proslogion. Here is what I am thinking for my Independent Readings:

Independent Reading I: “Fides Quaerens Intellectum Sola Ratione: St. Anselm’s Theological Epistemology in Historical Context”

This reading would concern the often disputed meaning of Anselm’s claim to argue sola ratione (by reason alone) in Monologion and Proslogion. This phrase is difficult because it seems superficially at odds with his stated method of “faith seeking understanding.” I want to argue that in a medieval world in which florilegia were among the most common theological documents and citing authorities was considered standard theological argumentation, “by reason alone” meant reason apart from authoritative church tradition, not reason apart from faith.  In historical context, it was a statement of method more than epistemology. By it Anselm signified his intention not to assume Christian authorities in his argumentation (so that an unbeliever could be convinced), not to take a position on the “faith verses reason” discussions one finds in a Philosophy of Religion textbook.

Independent Reading II: “God as Author, Creation As Story: Test Cases in a Theological Metaphor”

This reading would examine the Creator/creation relation in Boethius’ doctrine of divine foreknowledge, Calvin’s doctrine of the incarnation (particularly the so-called extra-Calvinisticum), and T.F. Torrance’s doctrine of Christ’s ascension. Each of these doctrines would be examined through the lens of an author/story metaphor for God/creation, as a way both to test this metaphor as well as to understand these doctrines more clearly.

Independent Reading III: “The Supremely Simple Unity: Divine Simplicity and Trinitarianism in Anselm and John of Damascus”

This reading would analyze the relation of divine simplicity and trinitarianism in St. Anselm’s Proslogion, chapter 23 and John of Damascus’ An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, chapters 9-10, as a sort of compare and contrast.

For my atonement seminar, my research paper is a rebuttal of two prominent critics of St. Anselm’s satisfaction theory, Gustav Aulen and (more recently) J. Denny Weaver. For the seminar on the Trinity, the paper I am thinking is “Developments in Trinitarianism, East and West.” I would examine different leanings in the formulation of Trinitarian theology in the East and West, looking especially at Augustine vs. the Cappadocian Fathers, but also Tertullian and John of Damascus a bit.

All of this, is, of course, if God permits! Its exciting to have it planned out a bit.

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  1. Gav, if you want them, I can send you my notes on learning to read German and French. (For German, I found that what you really need to know is the passive voice and what my textbook called the “overloaded adjective construction.” Nail those two things, and everything else gets easier.)

  2. Thanks Eric, that would be great! (If you can send them via email – I would hate to trouble you by physical mail.)

  3. Gav, keep me updated on your study of divine simplicity. I am especially interested in that topic, as you know already.

  4. Will do, Drew! Right now looks like it will be an independent reading under Crisp in spring 2013. We will have to get together sometime and chat about the topic – I’d be curious to hear more of your thoughts.