The first lecture centers on the role of religious giving in the build up of Christian communities from the time of Saint Paul to the conversion of Constantine. From the time of Paul onwards, this giving raised the issue of the role of the religious entrepreneur and the rights of religious leaders to cultivate support from their communities. Thus, Christian giving bifurcated early into two aims: the need to collect money for the relief of the poor and the need to collect money also to support an increasingly prominent and active group of religious leaders.
The second lecture continues our discussion of giving with an analysis of the issue in the late third and fourth centuries as it emerged with particular sharpness in Syria. A strong tradition of thought, shared by Manichees and by radical Christian ascetics, favored outright mendicancy by religious leaders. Manichaean Elect and Christian monks were expected to live from the alms of the faithful. They were supposed to have abandoned work. Herein Professor Brown will examine the deeply rooted views on nature, the human person, and society that were implied by this choice to live "like angels," without the necessity to work for a living.
The third lecture concludes the theme by pointing to the exceptional nature of the Egyptian decision to link monasticism with labor. Monks in Egypt were supposed to be self-sufficient, and to be engaged in real work. Professor Brown will examine the assumptions that lay behind that decision. The fact that Western monasticism (up to the days of Saint Francis) opted heavily for this view of the monk makes it hard for us to realize that the "angelic," Syriac option was just as important in late antiquity. Indeed, with the spread of Buddhism in India, Central Asia and China, an ascetic elite supported by the alms of the faithful was the norm. If it were not for the Egyptian resistance to this idea, mendicant monasticism might have become general in Christianity also -- and Europe would have been a "Land of the Begging Bowl."
Tuesday, November 13th - Remember the Poor
Wednesday, November 14th - In the Likeness of the Angels
Thursday, November 15th - The Work of the Hands...the Glory of Egypt
All lectures in the Harrison Auditorium at 4 p.m. each afternoon with a catered reception following each lecture.
ALL LECTURES FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
The Page-Barbour Lectures were founded in 1907 by Mrs. Thomas Nelson Page. The lectures, which may be in any field in the arts and sciences, are to present "some fresh aspect or aspects of the department of thought" in which the lecturer is a specialist, and are to possess such unity as to be published in book form by the University.
Past Page-Barbour Lecturers include President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft; poets T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden; philosophers Walter Lippman and John Dewey; and psychologists B.F. Skinner and Robert Coles.
Recent Page-Barbour Lectures include philosopher Richard Rorty, physicist Freeman Dyson, and anthropologist Maurice Godelier.
The James W. Richard Lectures are funded by an endowment established by the will of Este Coffinberry, probated in 1923. The will specifies that one lecture is to be in religion and another in history, especially comparative history. It also provides that the lectures are to be such that the University might publish them as a book.
Past James W. Richard Lecturers include theologians and philosophers Etienne Gilson, Paul Tillich, Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Thomas Torrance, Nicholas Lash, and Langdon Gilkey; and historians Jaroslav Pelikan, Jacob Neusner, and Edmund Morgan.
Recent James W. Richard Lecturers include philosopher Stephen Mulhall, political theorist Quentin Skinner, historian Lynn Hunt, and religious studies scholar David Schulman.