Conference: Athens and Jerusalem


Location: McKenna Hall (Notre Dame Conference Center), Rooms 112-114

Athens and Jerusalem: An Interdisciplinary Workshop on Theology and Philosophy in Late Antiquity

Friday, April 12:  1:15 pm - 5:00 pm
Saturday, April 13:  9:00 am-12:45 pm


Prof. Brian Daley, S. J. (Theology)

Prof. Joseph Karbowski (Philosophy)

Prof. Mary Keys (Political Science)

Prof. Peter Martens (Theology)

Prof. Michael Rea (Philosophy)

Prof. Gretchen Reydams-Schils (Program of Liberal Studies)

With the rigid separation of theology and philosophy in modern universities, it is easy for students of these two disciplines to forget that in late antiquity, there was no such clear-cut division of labor among philosophers and theologians. On the one hand, the nature of God (or gods) was a central question for many philosophical schools, and the answer to this question greatly shaped their understanding concerning other issues such as the origin, nature, and destiny of the universe (natural theology, metaphysics) and what human behaviors could be considered as pleasing to God(s) (ethics). Christian theologians, on the other hand, viewed Christianity as the highest philosophy. Despite their uneasiness with some of the views endorsed by the "pagan philosophers", as is shown in Tertullian’s famous puzzle (what indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”) Christian theologians did not hesitate to make use of a wide variety of classical philosophical traditions. All truths, after all, came from the one true God.

It is also easily to neglect that in late antiquity, non-Christian philosophers and Christian theologians interacted with each other as full-fledged interlocutors. As a matter of fact, many key concepts in Christianity, such as the concept of the human person, the concept of the soul and the body, and the concept of virtue, were forged in the encounter of Scripture and classical philosophy. Likewise, it is interesting to ask whether the encounter with Christianity affected the development of non-Christian philosophical thought.

The goal of the workshop is to bring philosophers and theologians into dialogue, to explore together the interaction of these two great disciplines in late antiquity. The six speakers represent four different departments in the Notre Dame community: Philosophy, Theology, the Program of Liberal Studies, and Political Science.

All graduate students and faculty members are welcome to participate.

For more information, please contact Xueying Wang, conference organizer, at