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

Location: McKenna Hall, Notre Dame Conference Center

The Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts is pleased to announce an upcoming conference on philosophy and theology in late antiquity:

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

Friday, April 12, 2013, 1:15 pm-5:00 pm

Saturday, April 13, 2013, 9:00 am-12:45 pm

McKenna Hall, 112-114

University of Notre Dame


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 the 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 neglected that in the 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, 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 thoughts.

The goal of the workshop is to bring philosophers and theologians into dialogue, to explore together the interaction of the two great disciplines in the late antiquity. The six speakers of the conference are from four different departments of the Notre Dame community: the Department of Philosophy, Theology, Program of Liberal Studies, and Political Science. All graduate students and faculty members are welcome to participate. 

For more information, please contact Xueying Wang at