Lecture 3: Silence Through Schism and Two Reformations: 451-1500
The significance of the threeway split in Christianity after the Council of Chalcedon (451). The purposeful Chalcedonian forgetting of Evagrius Ponticus and the contribution of an anonymous theologian who took the name Dionysius the Areopagite. The role of Augustine in the Western Church: a theologian of words, not silence. The transformation in the use of silence and its function after the Carolingian expansion of Benedictine monastic life (together with the West's discovery of pseudo-Dionysius), and the further development through the great years of Cluny Abbey.
Lecture 2: Catholic Christianity and the Arrival of Ascetism, 100-400
Counter-strands to silence in the early Church, encouraged by its congregational worship and cult of martyrdom, and the effect of gnostic Christianities in shaping what the emerging Catholic Church decided to emphasise or ignore. The emergence of new positive theologies of silence: negative theology and its sources in the Platonic tradition; the development of asceticism in the mainstream Church in Syria from the second century, and its possible sources: the place of silence in the development of monasticism and eremetical life in Christianity.
Introduction: Voices and Silence in Tanakh and Christian New Testament
Discusses a change in emphasis between the Hebrew Scripture (the Tanakh) and what Christians made of what is arguably a minority positive strand in Judaic thinking on silence; we survey the growth of a consciousness of silence, particularly in the cosmos, in Jewish religion. We seek the voice of Jesus to be heard behind the text of the New Testament, with his distinctive use of silence and silences; the place of silence in the first Christian attempts to understand the significance of Jesus Christ, and its relationship to the formation of the Church.
In this opening lecture of the Aberdeen Gifford Lecture Series 2012, Professor Sarah Coakleyanalyses the current malaise of "natural theology" and its philosophical and theological causes, and invites reflection on a bold reformulation of its task which might contest the cynicism of a culture convinced of primary selfishness.