Thursday, March 03, 2005

Semester thus far and other thoughts

A brief evaluation of the classes so far.

New Testament Greek. I enjoy Greek and I keep learning new things. I wish I could build up the vocabulary a little faster. It's fun to try and translate as much as possible out of the service book when hymns are chanted in Greek.

Church History. As with most history it's interesting. However, I am somewhat familiar with most of what we are discussing. Five and a half years at Notre Dame gave me plenty of reasons to read bits and pieces of history. Enjoyable, nonetheless.

Dogmatics. I've always been fascinated by it, so I have done a bit of reading on my own - a little from St. Gregory the Theologian, St. John of Damascus, Staniloae. It's still fascinating :) The cool thing about the course is that we are exploring dogmatics through patristic texts. Thus, in discussing apophaticism we read Dionysios the Areopagite and in discussing the Trinity we read St. Gregory of Nyssa.

Parenthesis. Since apophatic theology seems to be a peculiar characteristic of Orthodox theology, Magda suggested that I add a link. If you are not interested in reading a Dogmatics lecture, here is a brief description. Apophatic theology is the way that the Orthodox acknowledge that, by His very nature of being uncreated, transcendent, etc. God cannot be fully comprehended by human beings. We can describe some of His characteristics as we understand them (He is good, merciful, love) but God in His nature is beyond all such description. As Fr. Clapsis said in class: "To prevent mental concepts from become idols, we must continually begin our reflection of who God is, by saying what He is not." Thus, He is not good in the sense that He is beyond our understanding of 'good,' but He is good in that we perceive Him as such from His interactions with us. End parenthesis.

New Testament. Quite an intensive course and very broad by its nature. The scholastic part of it is fairly dry, though parts of it are interesting. Thankfully there is more to the course than that (see lecture of February 18 for example - over on the class notes website).

Liturgics. This is the course that, so far, I find the most fascinating. The main reason is that the readings have touched on just about every facet of theology that I can think of. Most interesting I have found the theology/ecclesiology that derive from the liturgy itself and the sacraments. From Schmemann's approach to liturgy to the symbolical understanding of worship, to the historical development of the rite - there are so many nuances to grasp.

Finally, I'm glad there's a break coming. My brain has short-circuited too many times this week. Latest incident was last night - two seconds left in the basketball game, score is tied and we have one free-throw left. Niko had made the first two and I stepped out of the lane because I had one quick thought, without remembering that I was not allowed to step out - something I had very well known. He did not get to take the third free throw and we lost in double overtime. I guess starting the day at 6am with Liturgy and having a test in the middle of the day didn't help either. Still, grumble.


Blogger magda said...

You might add some links for those who aren't your fellow classmate-theologians. (Dogmatics paragraph--) I know what an Areopagite is, but I can't say the same for apophaticism.


11:36 AM  

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