Theology Update for the Week of August 3

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Dear friends in Christ

Sunday, August 3, at 10am (and repeated on Thursday, August 7, at 12:40pm) I will begin the study of the Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s. This is a very interesting and short book of the Old Testament, nestled right in there with the Psalms. But how different it is! There is, for one thing, no mention of God in the book. Through this study, we will be looking for wisdom about erotic love (the subject of the poems in the book), and for wisdom about how to read the Bible. I’m particularly interested in “analogical” reading, where one thing is an analogy for another (i.e., the woman and man in the poem as analogues for God’s people and God himself). Analogical reading seems to be forced upon us by this book, despite the many problems it poses. Anyway – I hope you’ll consider coming to this class when you can. The “Song of Songs” is truly amazing.

On the third Monday of August (August 18), the Dante Seminar will do the second half of the Inferno (cantos 18-34). We’re going down to the bottom of Hell, which is also the center of Dante’s universe (literally; it is the center of the earth). And what is at the center? ICE! Not fire! (And how tempting is that on a hot August day?) … Dante, the poet, has much to teach us. And seminar discussions are ways for us to learn more than we could by ourselves. If you read the text, you are welcome to join. (On August 18, the seminar will run from 6:15 to 7:45pm.)

I’ve announced earlier the class on faith, the “doctrinal Tuesdays” class that will begin September 16. Aquinas, for all the dryness of his prose, has a profoundly mystical understanding of faith: it is a union with God that God gives to us, such that we share in God’s understanding of himself.

The text for this class is Summa theologiae II-II, qq 1-7. You can find these questions on the web. The “New Blackfriars” edition puts these questions in volume 31, but it sells for almost $50 and so, judging that highly excessive, I’ve not asked Jean to stock it in our bookstore. You can sometimes find used copies. But mainly, we’ll be working through the text line-by-line. All this is just to say (since some people have asked me) that you don’t need to worry about the text in advance.