This course name and description ONLY applies to academic year 2021-2022

THEO 13183-1: Foundations of Theology

Instructor: Ann Astell

Among the books of the Bible, the Book of Psalms evoked the greatest amount of commentary from the early Christian writers, who wrote and often preached upon the individual psalms, interpreting them for their congregations. Among Old Testament books, the Psalter is the one most often quoted in the New Testament writings. In this course we explore why and how the Fathers of the Church (Athanasius, Ambrose, and Augustine, in particular) discovered in the Psalter a summary of the whole Bible, prophecies of Christ, moral teaching, spiritual remedies, and an anticipation of heavenly worship. We will pay special attention to Augustine’s use of the psalms in his Confessions and his interpretation of selected psalms. In this way we will also come to an understanding of why and how Christian liturgy, from the ancient Church to the present, attaches a unique importance to the Book of Psalms as the prayer book of the Church and the vital link between the readings of the Old and the New Testaments. Our study of the historical interpretations of the Biblical Psalms will be accompanied by a contemporary inquiry into the Bible as God’s inspired “Word” and the nature of the revelation (concerning history, God, ourselves, eternal things) it proffers. Since this is a First Year Seminar, special emphasis is placed on research, writing and discussion. Each one is expected to play a vital role in this course by attending class sessions, reading and studying, contributing to the discussion, and writing thoughtful, original papers and exams.