Philosophy Word of the Day – Saint Augustine (354-430 AD)

Augustine of Hippo wrote that original sin is ...
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Aurelius Augustinus [more commonly “St. Augustine of Hippo,” often simply “Augustine”] (354-430 C.E.): rhetor, Christian Neoplatonist, North African Bishop, Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church. One of the decisive developments in the western philosophical tradition was the eventually widespread merging of the Greek philosophical tradition and the Judeo-Christian religious and scriptural traditions. Augustine is one of the main figures through and by whom this merging was accomplished. He is, as well, one of the towering figures of medieval philosophy whose authority and thought came to exert a pervasive and enduring influence well into the modern period (e.g. Descartes and especially Malebranche), and even up to the present day, especially among those sympathetic to the religious tradition which he helped to shape (e.g. Plantinga 1992; Adams 1999).

But even for those who do not share this sympathy, there is much in Augustine’s thought that is worthy of serious philosophical attention. Augustine is not only one of the major sources whereby classical philosophy in general and Neoplatonism in particular enter into the mainstream of early and subsequent medieval philosophy, but there are significant contributions of his own that emerge from his modification of that Greco-Roman inheritance, e.g., his subtle accounts of belief and authority, his account of knowledge and illumination, his emphasis upon the importance and centrality of the will, and his focus upon a new way of conceptualizing the phenomena of human history, just to cite a few of the more conspicuous examples.

(Via Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

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Top 5 Books on the First-Century Greco-Roman World

Everett Ferguson shares his top picks at

The following books cover different aspects of the cultural context of early Christianity. The subject is broad enough that, as a friend of mine commented, “Fifty would be easier than five!” This list does not include general reference works, such as the Dictionary of New Testament Background, Oxford Classical Dictionary, and Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period, 450 B.C.E. to 600 C.E.

Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus
Karl Galinsky, editor

The Cambridge Companion provides an up-to-date introduction to the period surrounding the life of Jesus. The book groups articles according to political history, intellectual and social developments, the impact of the emperor, art, and literature, and concludes with an appendix by L. Michael White on Herod and the Jewish experience.

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As the Romans Did: A Source Book in Roman Social History
Jo Ann Shelton

Shelton offers a judicious selection of well-translated texts accompanied by brief introductions and numerous explanatory footnotes. She groups her 425 texts (mostly literary, but also inscriptional and papyrological) under these headings: the structure of Roman society, families, marriage, housing and city life, domestic and personal concerns, education, occupations, slaves, freedmen, government and politics, the Roman army, the provinces, women in Roman society, leisure and entertainment, and religion and philosophy. (Continue)

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New Online Directory of Christian Scholars

Here’s a great new resource for finding Christian scholars across a variety of academic disciplines.  The site describes its project this way:

The Christian Scholars Directory endeavours to include Christian sociologists, historians, economists, literary critics, and other scholars it seems apparent is a Christian Scholar. I am not the judge of who is or is not Christian, by apparent I mean they say so. You can read the background of the directory in this introductory post which also provides an index to all the posts separated into alphabetical segments. I’m open to comments and suggestions, especially for additional blogs and sites.

Here are the A’s, and the author welcomes additional suggestions.

Paul Adams – Former Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Estrella Mountain Community College, Avondale AZ. Wide array of materials (which the author has used in classes), on bible books, philosophy amd theological issues. His Blog on Biblical Worldview can be found here.

Daniel Akin – President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Materials from Dr. Akin on many theological issues. Akin wrote his PhD on the Soteriology of Bernard of Clairvaux.

Dan Anderson – M.Div Student at Moore Theological College, Sydney. This blog often explores the philisophical, the theological and the whimsical.

Kent C. Anderson – Dean of Northwest Baptist Seminary and the Associated Canadian Theological Schools (ACTS) of Trinity Western University in Langley, BC. Blog provides a wide range of materials on homiletics. Anderson is particularly interested in the intersections between preaching and culture.

Clinton Arnold – Chairman, Department of New Testament, Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, CA. Dr Arnold’s page has links to several articles, and some materials for new Christians as well as a list of links to Free Electronic Resources for Biblical Studies.

(Thanks to Faith and Theology)

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EPS Interview with Biola Prof. Gregg Ten Elshof on Self Deception

Fascinating interview at the EPS blog with Biola professor of philosophy Gregg Ten Elshof on his recent book I Told Me So: Self-Deception and the Christian Life (Eerdmans, 2009).

We are pleased to have interviewed Gregg Ten Elshof about his latest book, I Told Me So: Self-Deception and the Christian Life (Eerdmans, 2009). Gregg is a professor of philosophy and the department chairperson of the undergraduate philosophy program at Biola University. He has also been a contributor to Philosophia Christi. Below is part one of a two part interview with Gregg.

How did this book come about for you?
I first took up an interest in self-deception as a graduate student at USC in the 90’s. I was just beginning to modify my approach to the Way of Jesus in response to the reading I had been doing about spiritual formation (from Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, etc.). I began to suspect that I had fallen prey to self-deception in significant ways and that my Christian brothers and sisters had too. But I found precious little in the contemporary literature on the Christian life that focused on self-deception. I devoted my doctoral research to defending a model of self-knowledge which made sense of self-deception with an eye toward writing this book at some point. In the ten years or so since, I’ve been reading and teaching courses about self-knowledge and self-deception. Finally, last year, I felt like I had enough to say to warrant the writing of a book. (continue)

Western Conference of the Society of Christian Philosophers

Western Conference of the Society of Christian Philosophers
PAPER DEADLINE: Saturday, August 15

October 22-24, 2009, Durango, Colorado
Featured Speakers:

Michael Bergmann “Commonsense Skeptical Theism”
Wes Morriston “Divinely Mandated Genocide and the Limits of Human Knowledge”

CFP: The conference has no particular theme, and papers on any topic of philosophical interest will be considered.  The SCP welcomes both Christians and non-Christians as presenters, commentators, and participants.  Submissions should be 3,000 words or less, prepared for blind review, and saved in an accessible format (e.g. Word, PDF, RTF, etc.).  Please indicate in your cover letter whether, should your paper not be accepted, you would be willing to serve as commentator.  For further information on both conference details and Durango attractions, visit the conference website at:

Submissions, inquiries, and requests to comment can be sent to Justin McBrayer at