Orthodox Readings of Augustine

First International Conference of the Orthodoxy in America Lecture Series

Co-Sponsored by the Center for Medieval Studies, Fordham University

June 14-16, 2007, at the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University in The Bronx

For more than one thousand years, Eastern Orthodox theologians have offered conflicting
interpretations of the orthodoxy of one of the most respected fathers of the Western
Church, St. Augustine of Hippo. Although Augustine is regarded as a saint of the Orthodox
Church (commemorated on June 15) many find fault with his Trinitarian formulations and
his teachings about original sin and predestination. This conference will bring together
prominent Eastern Orthodox theologians and historians to offer their own interpretations
of Augustine’s place in the Orthodox Church. The conference also includes the
perspectives of well-known Roman Catholic and Anglican scholars who are knowledgeable
about the reception of Augustine in the East and/or the continued theological dialogue
between Eastern and Western Christians.

Plenary Speaker: Andrew Louth

Other Speakers include:

Lewis Ayres
John Behr
David Bradshaw
Brian Daley, S.J.
Elizabeth Fisher
Carol Harrison
David Hart
Joseph Lienhard, S.J.
Andrew Louth
Jean-Luc Marion
John McGuckin
John Milbank
David Tracy

For more information, contact George Demacopoulos (demacopoulos@fordham.edu)
or Aristotle Papanikolaou (papanikolaou@fordham.edu).



9 thoughts on “Orthodox Readings of Augustine

  1. With Prof Louth as leading speaker, this conference has little hope of shedding any light on the subject. Prof Louth is far too willing, without any cause other than his own opinion, to reinterpret the Fathers of the Church in light of modern “wisdom” especially that of materialistic science. He is an academic to his toes and suffers from all of the ills to which academics are prone when they talk theology–mind not heart, words not spirit. He seeks agreement more than he does truth.

  2. Michael,

    What do you think of the other participants? It’s a shame, but my first thought about the group (excluding David Hart whom I am familiar with) was “I wonder how many ecumenists – in the negative sense of the term – are there?”

  3. Christopher, I don’t know any of the others, but its a fair bet that since Prof Louth is the keynote speaker the general tenor of the conference will not be to stress genuine tradition. We have a gentleman in our parish who knows at least as much about the subject as any of the attendees, unfortunately, he is quite infirm. He is a renown scholar and translator of Orthodox texts. He gave a lecture several years ago to the parish called “Redeeming the Time” in which he made it quite clear that whatever St. Augustine’s personal spiritual credentials might be, his theological legacy was dark and wholly un-Orthodox. Personally, I have always felt Augustine never quite got free of his Manicheanism and was greatly responsible for the dualistic tendency we still see to this day in western Christian thought and practice. He had no one to pull him into a truly Orthodox approach and essentially wrote outside the Tradition.

    When the Scholastics forged a theological synthesis with Augustine and Aristotle, it got worse.

  4. Michael,

    Have you ever read Professor Farrell’s intro to his translation of St. Photios the Great’s “Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit”? It is devastating. If Blessed (or Saint) Augustine did not have a neoplatonic vision of the Trinity then pigs fly…

  5. Christopher, I have not read it, but I have the book on my book shelf and it just got bumped to #1. Of course many people will ask, “Why does it matter?” It matters because what we belive about God reflects what we believe about ourselves and visa versa. What we believe about ourselves has a direct impact on how we act toward others and how we form culture and public policy.

    So Dean, you own it to yourself at least to come up with a coherent response to my question: Who is man? If you don’t have an ontology and anthropology that is in accord with the teachings of the Church, you are doing yourself a great disservice.

  6. Christopher, you are correct. Mr. Farrell makes quite clear the neoplatonism of Augustine and the links between Augustine and Origin. Acutally, it makes my case to Jim that the 5th council delcared heretical the very types of ideas that the west beginning with Augustine and continuing throught the Scholastics thought were so great. In essence, the west ignored the work of the Eastern Fathers and just blythely went off and did their own thing to the detriment of Christianity.

  7. Note 6. I am not sure if the Western Church ignored the Eastern Fathers, or if they just didn’t know much about them. (I am more sympathetic to Augustine than some of his Eastern critics, BTW. I rank his “Confessions” as one of the best books I have ever read.) One of my history professors once said that Augustine was scheduled to attend the Council of Ephesus but unfortunately died a few months before it was held. Imagine how different history might have been had he attended.

  8. If Augustine had had the opportunity to be brought more fully into the Tradition of the Church, many things might have been different. He did not have anyone to really check him. A lesson to us all.

  9. My real point was not about Augustine however, but about Prof. Louth. I wish his work would be critiqued by someone who has the standing to do so. As it is now, it seems he gets carte blanche simply because of his association with Bp Kallistos.

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