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Preaching with the Church Fathers
In the early centuries of the church, it was rare to find a theologian who wasn't also a preacher. Jn the estimation of most early Christian writers, theology was to be ordered towards proclamation-it was for the whole church, from the humblest parishioner, to the most erudite. Whereas homilies have historically taken a back seat to dogmatic treatises in patristic scholarship, there is a growing awareness that homiletical literature was of central importance for the early and medieval church, East and West alike. In addition to their importance for the propagation of the gospel and the cure of souls in the patristic era, these homilies continued for centuries to be used as resources for pastors and preachers. In this course, students will engage with these sermons in accordance with rigorous historical methods, and, at the same time, join in this tradition of turning to the sources themselves (ad fontes) to consider how early Christian sermons can be fruitfully employed in the church today. Students will thus reflect, in historical perspective, on the intersection of theology, exegesis, and pastoral care. The primary tasks of the course will be to read (in translation) and discuss the sermons of Greek and Latin preachers, from the first century to the fifth. We will focus especially on the great preachers of the fourth and fifth centuries, Augustine of Hippo and John Chrysostom, both of whom were used as exemplars of preaching in their respective traditions for centuries.