Peter Widdicombe @ the J.J. Thiessen Lecture Series

The J.J. Thiessen Lectures

Founded in 1978 by Canadian Mennonite Bible College, the J. J. Thiessen Lectures are named in honour of a founder and long-time chairperson of the CMBC Board. The lectures seek to bring to the Canadian Mennonite University community something of his breadth of vision for the church.



October 18-19, 2011
Peter Widdicombe, McMaster University.
Topic: Scripture and the Christian Imagination: Text, Doctrine, and Artistic Representation in the Early Church and Beyond

From the very beginning, Christians have asked how the Bible was to be read in such a way that its convictions about God, creation, and humankind might be made apprehensible. How was it that the words of a text, a thing of space and time, could be understood to reveal the eternal and transcendent Word? How was doctrine to be formulated on the basis of the Bible? How then was that doctrine to be represented visually?

The two greatest writers in the Patristic Period on the problem of hermeneutics were Origen and Augustine. The former developed the allegorical approach to the interpretation of Scripture. The latter took up that approach, extended it, and bequeathed it to the Latin West. It became the standard way in which the Bible was read until the Reformation. The first lecture looks at the development of Patristic hermeneutics, focusing particularly on the thought of Augustine. The second two lectures explore two examples of how this approach played out in both text and art from the Patristic Period through the Reformation: the account of the Drunkenness of Noah in Genesis 9:20-27, and the reference to foxes and vines in Song of Songs 2:15.

October 18, 11:00 AM

Words and the Word: Augustine and the Patristic Interpretation of Scripture

October 18, 7:30 PM

Drunkenness, Nakedness, and the Redemption and Fall of an Image: Noah and Christ

October 19, 11:00 AM

When is a Fox not a Fox? Song of Songs 2:15 and the Need for Vigilance


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