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Medieval Synthesis:



Old Testament, New Testament, Patristics, Ancient Philosophy, Logic, Philosophy of Man






The course, covering 300 to 1300 AD, examines the marriage of Christian Faith and Philosophical Reason in the medieval scholastic project whose highest achievement is found in the work of Aquinas. It begins with the late Patristic period and the advent of monasticism, its spirit and rule, and two intellectuals diversely influenced by its quest: Cassian and Boethius.

It continues with the rise of early scholasticism in the 12th century (Anselm and Bernard being key figures) and the Aristotelian revolution. Here, it notes that Muslims and Jews also sought to reconcile faith with reason, in the same way as did Christians (most notably, Aquinas).

It culminates in a study of how Aquinas faces key problems of faith: the existence of God, the human soul as immortal yet the form of the body, man's freedom, evil and God's Providence. The advent of the friars is his "background," some attention being given to the Franciscan tradition (e.g., Bonaventure) and later medieval developments (e.g., Nominalism).


Possible sequence of topics:

  • Late Patristic developments: monasticism, neo-Platonism
  • Early Scholasticism: Anselm, Abelard and Bernard (the "Cistercian reformation")
  • Faith (Jewish/Muslim/Christian) and Reason
  • The Friars and Aquinas
  • Francis (and the "Franciscan spring")
  • Aquinas on God, the Soul, Freedom, Evil and God's Providence
  • Reaction to Aquinas
Medieval Synthesis:    
Aristotle Metaphysics, On the Soul
Anselm Proslogium, Monologium, Deus Homo
Bonaventure Mind's Road to God
Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica, On the Teacher, Commentaries (on Aristotle's works), Treatise on the Archive and the Contemplative Life
Dante Paradiso
Gilson The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy