Bernard McGinn recently completed the biography of one of the most influential theological works in Christian history: Thomas Aquinas’s Summa theologiae, and he joins us in this episode of the Maxwell Institute Podcast to talk about it. McGinn’s book is part of Princeton University Press’s “Lives of Great Religious Books” series in which leading scholars write biographies of the birth and life of religious texts like Genesis, the Yoga Sutra, and the Book of Mormon.
Thinking about the Summa theologiae in particular, as we do in this episode, raises a number of fascinating questions like: What does it mean to do theology? What is the value of theology to faith? How does theology relate to philosophy? How do theological views shift over time? These and many other questions are explored with McGinn, who joined me via Skype on June 4, 2014.
Special Episodes: “Lives of Great Religious Books”
Additionally, I’m excited to announce that over the coming months the MIPodcast will feature more authors from the “Lives of Great Religious Books” series. How do such episodes align with the Maxwell Institute’s mission? The Institute has always been about more than the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies or the Mormon Studies Review. As our mission statement suggests, we perform scholarly study of religious traditions and texts in order to deepen understanding and nurture discipleship among Latter-day Saints and to promote mutual respect and goodwill among people of all faiths. That’s why our work encompasses texts and traditions beyond Latter-day Saint religious borders. Think about the Institute’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative or CPART’s work on Syriac Christian Texts or the Dead Sea Scrolls—we’re working to place LDS scripture alongside great religious texts of a variety of traditions. Moreover, by looking at other religious texts—worthwhile in their own right—we come to understand other faiths better as well as our own.
About Bernard McGinn
Bernard McGinn is the Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology and of the History of Christianity at the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. His many books include Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with Evil and The Presence of God, a multivolume history of Western Christian mysticism.
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