Lecture 2 - RELIGIOUS STUDIES 90A Professor Nicklaus...

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RELIGIOUS STUDIES 90A Professor Nicklaus Largier 09/01/09 Lecture 02 ASUC Lecture Notes Online is the only authorized note-taking service at UC Berkeley. Do not share, copy or illegally distribute (electronically or otherwise) these notes. Our student-run program depends on your individual subscription for its continued existence. These notes are copyrighted by the University of California and are for your personal use only. D O N O T C O P Y Sharing or copying these notes is illegal and could end note taking for this course. ANNOUNCEMENTS I suggest that you do all of the readings for each week before the first meeting on Tuesday; the readings are not too long, so they should be manageable. I want to remind you that I expect you to attend class, and that attendance will be taken during sections for the first 2 sessions. And even though we are focusing on the Christian tradition, you are welcome to bring in other traditions in your questions and comments both in lectures and especially in your sections. LECTURE Augustine. The texts we are reading for this week, by St. Augustine, were written 1700 years ago and presuppose a lot of historical and cultural context; I’ll try to provide you with some background and give you my sense of what he is trying to do in the texts. The core of this course is faith, religion, and religious experience; these are all words with Latin roots. “Faith” refers to a Latin word for trust; “religion” refers to a root meaning to be bound up with something. Augustine is a major teacher of the church and wrote “On True Religion” around 390 A.D. He lived in late antiquity, a time of great transition where the Roman Empire, with its strong pagan traditions, was crumbling slowly and becoming Christian and would be superseded by what we call the Middle Ages. Many changes were happening; Augustine addresses philosophers, pagans, Christians and others as he thinks about the self, religion and culture. He was born in North Africa and came to Rome and Milan and returned to North Africa, so he was at the crossroads of cultural ferment. He wrote the Confessions around 396-398; it is a very famous and influential book. “On True Religion” is a nicely crafted text that has a nice flow, but some passages can be very hard to understand; it is even harder in Latin. It’s good to check out the footnotes when you get confused, when reading any of these texts; footnotes and commentary can help a lot. Augustine sometimes quotes the Bible and struggles with how we should understand scripture. There is an ongoing tension in him about how to read scripture and how we should apply it to our religious practices and how we live our lives. It’s important to know that commentary is
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Lecture 2 - RELIGIOUS STUDIES 90A Professor Nicklaus...

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