Pope: College is more than job training. It is a journey to truth.

Pope Benedict told college professors that universities should be where a student "seeks the truth proper to the human person." (AJC file)

The Pope said students should come to universities to seek "the truth proper to the human person." (AJC file)

Here is a speech that Pope Benedict XVI gave Friday in Spain to university professors.  The Pope expressed concern over the new utilitarian view of higher education, arguing that creating a labor force should not be the main objective:

Being here with you, I am reminded of my own first steps as a professor at the University of Bonn. At the time, the wounds of war were still deeply felt and we had many material needs; these were compensated by our passion for an exciting activity, our interaction with colleagues of different disciplines and our desire to respond to the deepest and most basic concerns of our students. This experience of a “Universitas” of professors and students who together seek the truth in all fields of knowledge, or as Alfonso X the Wise put it, this “counsel of masters and students with the will and understanding needed to master the various disciplines,” helps us to see more clearly the importance, and even the definition, of the University.

The theme of the present World Youth Day – “Rooted and Built Up in Christ, and Firm in the Faith”  — can also shed light on your efforts to understand more clearly your own identity and what you are called to do. As I wrote in my Message to Young People in preparation for these days, the terms “rooted, built up and firm” all point to solid foundations on which we can construct our lives.

But where will young people encounter those reference points in a society which is increasingly confused and unstable? At times one has the idea that the mission of a university professor nowadays is exclusively that of forming competent and efficient professionals capable of satisfying the demand for labor at any given time. One also hears it said that the only thing that matters at the present moment is pure technical ability. This sort of utilitarian approach to education is in fact becoming more widespread, even at the university level, promoted especially by sectors outside the University.

All the same, you who, like myself, have had an experience of the University, and now are members of the teaching staff, surely are looking for something more lofty and capable of embracing the full measure of what it is to be human. We know that when mere utility and pure pragmatism become the principal criteria, much is lost and the results can be tragic: from the abuses associated with a science which acknowledges no limits beyond itself, to the political totalitarianism which easily arises when one eliminates any higher reference than the mere calculus of power. The authentic idea of the University, on the other hand, is precisely what saves us from this reductionist and curtailed vision of humanity.

In truth, the University has always been, and is always called to be, the “house” where one seeks the truth proper to the human person. Consequently it was not by accident that the Church promoted the universities, for Christian faith speaks to us of Christ as the Word through whom all things were made (cf. Jn 1:3) and of men and women as made in the image and likeness of God. The Gospel message perceives a rationality inherent in creation and considers man as a creature participating in, and capable of attaining to, an understanding of this rationality. The University thus embodies an ideal which must not be attenuated or compromised, whether by ideologies closed to reasoned dialogue or by truckling to a purely utilitarian and economic conception which would view man solely as a consumer.

Here we see the vital importance of your own mission. You yourselves have the honour and responsibility of transmitting the ideal of the University: an ideal which you have received from your predecessors, many of whom were humble followers of the Gospel and, as such, became spiritual giants. We should feel ourselves their successors, in a time quite different from their own, yet one in which the essential human questions continue to challenge and stimulate us. With them, we realize that we are a link in that chain of men and women committed to teaching the faith and making it credible to human reason. And we do this not simply by our teaching, but by the way we live our faith and embody it, just as the Word took flesh and dwelt among us.

Young people need authentic teachers: persons open to the fullness of truth in the various branches of knowledge, persons who listen to and experience in own hearts that interdisciplinary dialogue; persons who, above all, are convinced of our human capacity to advance along the path of truth. Youth is a privileged time for seeking and encountering truth. As Plato said: “Seek truth while you are young, for if you do not, it will later escape your grasp” (Parmenides, 135d). This lofty aspiration is the most precious gift which you can give to your students, personally and by example. It is more important than mere technical know-how, or cold and purely functional data.

I urge you, then, never to lose that sense of enthusiasm and concern for truth. Always remember that teaching is not just about communicating content, but about forming young people. You need to understand and love them, to awaken their innate thirst for truth and their yearning for transcendence. Be for them a source of encouragement and strength.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

70 comments Add your comment

Dr NO aka Mr Sunshine

August 22nd, 2011
1:27 pm

Oh good. Isnt he the one that would paddle himself.

Cobb Parent

August 22nd, 2011
1:51 pm

I think what the Pope said is well said. Our universities are not there to serve the economy. We have too many who may be trained for their jobs but who do not know their society, they cannot think critically, they cannot articulate their thoughts. Would we have the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution if either had been drawn up by today’s lawyers, politicians, or MBA’s?

Ed Johnson

August 22nd, 2011
2:33 pm

“The Pope expressed concern over the new utilitarian view of higher education, arguing that creating a labor force should not be the main objective[.]”

Three cheers for the Pope!

Now, let’s bring that wisdom down to public K-12.

Demeiko

August 22nd, 2011
3:05 pm

“The Pope expressed concern over the new utilitarian view of higher education, arguing that creating a labor force should not be the main objective…”

Darn right, the main objective should be FOOTBALL.

Gooooooooooooooo Dawgs! Woof Woof Woof

To Demeiko

August 22nd, 2011
3:26 pm

Demeiko, you’re a riot. Thanks for the laugh.

Good mother.

Good Mother

August 22nd, 2011
3:29 pm

I agree the purpose of education is more than creating a labor force. Education is about creating and maintaining a democratic, civil society.

Cere

August 22nd, 2011
4:11 pm

Yay Pope! I couldn’t agree more. College should be a journey to learn to think. Ponder. Conceive. Connect. Create. Jobs people train for in 2012 will not exist by 2022. But the ability to think critically lasts a lifetime.

To Cere

August 22nd, 2011
5:22 pm

cere says “But the ability to think critically lasts a lifetime.”

I agree!

and critical thinking is a marketable skill.

Good Mother

Suavez

August 22nd, 2011
5:37 pm

The pope better be careful what he wishes for. If too many people learn critical thinking they will figure our what a pack of lies he is selling. Religion relies on the uneducated masses.

Lee

August 22nd, 2011
7:03 pm

Yeah, but at some point, the parental checkbook closes and one must enter the real world. So, you can study butterflies and daffodils and the meaning of life, or you can enter a field that will allow you to become financially secure.

That’s the truth…

SallyB

August 22nd, 2011
7:06 pm

Well, I have to say that back in the day [and "my" day was pretty far back" ] colleges and universities were absolutely NOT for creating or preparing for the labor force.

College was for broadening one’s horizons, learning to think critically, exposure to various philosophies, acquiring skills in solving life’s issues…. all the things said in posts above. Other than the teaching profession, preparing for a career was an AFTER college thing , : Med school, Law school, etc. And, college was , unfortunately , for only the academically gifted who could get scholarships, and/or the affluent who could afford the price as well as meet entrance requirements.

Preparing for the labor force was done in high school [many paths besides "college prep"] or through apprenticing or attending specialized classes after high school which would prepare one for the career of choice. IMO, a much better plan!

V for Vendetta

August 22nd, 2011
7:18 pm

I find it ironic that a man whose belief system has been one of the biggest suppressors of scientific advancement, birth control, and allegations of molestation is asked to speak on the virtues of education and what the education system should represent.

What should HIS institution represent? You know, other than centuries of oppression, bigotry, and hatred. Just saying . . .

mom to four

August 22nd, 2011
8:09 pm

V for Vendetta: Less than 1/10 of 1% of priests have been accused of any molestation. How many teachers have been accused of such? Are you going to paint all teachers as molesters because a small percentage committed terrible crimes? As for oppression… the Catholic Church and Catholic organizations give the most money and most labor to help the poor and oppressed throughout the world.

You should learn more about the subject before you discuss. Birth control is considered anti-life for practicing Catholics. We believe that life begins at conception so birth control as such prevents a life from taking form.

As for education, the Catholic Church started schools for the poor and underclass long before there were any “government” schools.

You are showing YOUR hatred and ignorance.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

August 22nd, 2011
8:21 pm

The older I get the more I value the emphases accorded academic, physical and spiritual development by the Catholic private and parochial, elementary and secondary schools from which I graduated lo those many years ago.

V for Vendetta

August 22nd, 2011
8:22 pm

Actually, mom of four, I was raised Catholic myself, so I DO know a little bit about the Catholic church and its practices. I would certainly dispute your ridiculously small percentage of priests accused of molesting their charges and submit that far more instances more than likely remain unreported. The denial of birth control and sex education in many African countries seems abhorrent when one considers the rampant amount of new AIDS cases and infant/mother deaths that result. Your claim that ” the Catholic Church and Catholic organizations give the most money and most labor to help the poor and oppressed throughout the world” is spurious as well. Compared to whom? Governments? Organizations? Individual donations?

Any Catholic school is started with the intent of spreading Catholic doctrine–i.e., denying metaphysical truths and scientific achievements. Schools should be called such because they teach the facts of reality. Religious schools should be called something else, like . . . church.

Ole Guy

August 22nd, 2011
8:40 pm

The Pope’s words could not be any wiser. However, the realities of prioritization took center stage long ago. The value of a liberal arts degree, for example…once heralded as the cornerstone of the “well-rounded, educated gentleman”…has become the educational equivalent of a ball and chain; armed with a BA in Liberal Arts generally qualifies one for little more than “assistant to the assistant” type jobs. Our economy places little value on one who is steeped in the writings of Chauser, the beauty of Van Gogh’s works, and the soothing chords of Brahms. Likewise, one versed in the communications skills by way of the Latin language is, in today’s economy, probably no better qualified than the dropout.

Fortunately, many “hard science” curricula call for an elective base in which one may explore some of the fine arts…the “rocket scientist”, therefore, can still be an aficionado of the “finer things” which life has to offer to those who know where to seek.

another comment

August 22nd, 2011
9:35 pm

I have a Bach. of Science in Architecture for a Catholic College, out of the School of Architecture and Engineering, all Architects, Engineers, Nurses, as well as every other undergrad student is required to take three religion classes ( but not all of the Catholic Faith), two plus Philosopy Classes, at least two other liberal Arts classes such as Art History. This is to learn how to critically think. The one thing we are not required to take are PE, classes like State Funded Universities. I paid and went to a Gym to work out. It was more important to use my college credit hours as the Pope stated in his speech.

Unfortunately, the State University Systems have to have a reason to have their football and basketball progams so they mandate PE to graduate. I think it is better to get an Education at a Division II /III Sports School that is a top 25 School in your academic major. Then to go to a Division I school that cheats for the greater good of the Football and basketball programs. (I also have a Masters from a Division 1 School that Drew Brees graduated from).

I agree

August 22nd, 2011
10:11 pm

I would have to agree, this city is moraly bankrupted.

I agree

August 22nd, 2011
10:13 pm

Where else would you have cheating taking place for twelve years and no one did anything about it

I agree

August 22nd, 2011
10:16 pm

If Kathy Agustine apply for the Superintendent job, she would get it hands down.

William Casey

August 23rd, 2011
12:31 am

@LEE: I believe that a young person can have both. My son is doing dual degrees in mathematics and philosophy. Math will serve him well in career. Philosophy will serve his soul. I’m very pleased with his decision and progress.

NewMinority

August 23rd, 2011
7:31 am

@V for Vendetta
You are living proof that birth control doesn’t always work.

Amen

August 23rd, 2011
8:06 am

Bigoted anti-Catholic remarks that utterly fail to address the content aside, there is much wisdom in Pope Benedict’s words. Unfortunately, American culture rejects the pursuit of truth in favor of relativism and utilitarianism.

NewMinority

August 23rd, 2011
8:34 am

The cradle of Western Civilization was the Middle Ages, the age of the Christian Church. The Pope succinctly summarized the strengths of the educational philosophy produced at this time. The writers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution benefitted from this type of education known as the “liberal arts”. One begins with the Truth as revealed in the Scriptures, and organizes all knowledge around it. Man and his relationship to God is the primary focus. All mankind is valued because he is created in the image of God. Charity is a worthwhile endeavor. The pursuit of peace is a noble one. Self-control is the fruit of the Spirit. In the early days of the church, these ideas stood in stark contrast with the world view and practices of the pagan Romans. There were more slaves than citizens. Citizens’ entertainment was blood-lust. The state (and emperor) was god. Debauchery and prostitution was elevated to religious sacraments. War was the natural state. In America, the Christian liberal arts education philosophy was overthrown by the pagan/materialistic New World Order philosophy. Thus, our country now resembles Rome…..just before its collapse.

Inman Park Boy

August 23rd, 2011
9:42 am

“Que es veritas?”, asked Pilate.

V for Vendetta

August 23rd, 2011
10:08 am

“The cradle of Western Civilization was the Middle Ages, the age of the Christian Church.”

More ignorant words might have never been spoken on this blog. The middle ages gave us the Crusades and the Inquisition–bloodthirsty and barbaric endeavors predicated on strict adherence to a bloodthirsty and barbaric book. The intellectual accomplishments of the Greeks and the Romans were without peer until the dawn of the Renaissance when the classical ideals of antiquity were revived and lead to an intellectual and artistic explosion, one that carried on through the 17th century. The focus of the Founding Father–the important ones, such as Paine, Jefferson, and Franklin–was on Greek and Roman ideals, not the Middle Ages, or, as they are more appropriately known, the DARK Ages. Witness the architecture at Monticello or the University of Virginia, designed by Jefferson to combine contemporary aesthetics with those of Greece and Rome. Paine’s focus on man as a sovereign being is yet another example. And let’s not forget that Jefferson rewrote his own version of the bible in which he deleted all of Jesus’s supernatural acts. (Franklin was almost certainly an agnostic or atheist. “Lighthouses are more useful than churches,” he said.)

I knew you were obviously living in a deluded world, NewMinority. What I didn’t know was just how deeply your delusions ran and how ignorant you are of historical fact. The Greeks and the Romans provided the basis for Western civilization. All the christian church did was get in the way.

Amen

August 23rd, 2011
10:28 am

@ V- The role of the Catholic Church in preserving art, literature, music, etc in the Middle Ages is historically established. I normally think your commentary on education is spot on. But your prejudices here are showing. Hate the church though you may, her long standing role as champion and provider of education at all levels is indisputable.

Ashley

August 23rd, 2011
10:36 am

@Ole guy….I must concur my liberal art degree might make me a creative thinker but, it matters not to the money driven society we live in. Although we live in a world of capital gains an spread sheets. One cannot be blind to the great artist of the world or the beautiful spoken words and passages from days gone by or the incredible landscapes and monuments on this planet. It all started with a single creative idea.

[...] But where will young people encounter those reference points in a society which is increasingly confused and unstable? At times one has the idea that the mission of a university professor nowadays is exclusively that of forming competent and efficient professionals capable of satisfying the demand for labor at any given time. One also hears it said that the only thing that matters at the present moment is pure technical ability. This sort of utilitarian approach to education is in fact becoming more widespread, even at the university level, promoted especially by sectors outside the University. [more] [...]

NewMinority

August 23rd, 2011
11:09 am

@V for Vendetta
Methinks you had one too many AP Western Civ. courses. LOL!
One of mine spent his entire 7th grade year studying the Middle Ages. I remember realizing that the public schools had been spewing propaganda all along. All of mine study chronological history from the beginning of time to the present, K-12–NEVER is this done in public school. Mine have toured the Eastern Mediterranean and visited all the historical sites of antiquity. My spouse is fluent in modern and ancient Greek. He frequently visits Athens on business. Unfortunately, your views have been tainted throughout the lens of Foundation produced anti-Christian curriculum. Outside the U.S., people are amazed at the ignorance of Americans. They all know who controls our government.

V for Vendetta

August 23rd, 2011
11:48 am

Wow. Just wow.

“Outside the U.S., people are amazed at the ignorance of Americans”

Gee, I wonder why. You’re probably one of those people who thinks the rapture will happen in our lifetimes.

NewMinority

August 23rd, 2011
12:31 pm

Speaking of ignorant….Your last post qualifies you as a useless eater. I think I’ll practice Blogger Birth Control. You are now a NON-PERSON. Your future posts will cease to exist.

University Professor

August 23rd, 2011
12:39 pm

@ NewMinority. “V for Vendetta” is absolutely accurate here as to the ancient classical civilizations, literatures, and thought being the foundation of later Western thinking.

You have noted several times in other posts on other blog threads here that you home-school your children. Your basic ignorance here is going to hurt them if they ever have contact with the outer world of education. I do not think that even private church-related colleges or universities would teach what you hold here to be truth….but perhaps you will home school them through the high school level, and that will be it. They are in for a shock once they leave the bubble of home.

NewMinority

August 23rd, 2011
2:08 pm

Mr. Professor
Let’s just say that one of mine is currently in the top 10% of his class in computer programming, math, and robotics, thanks to his HOME SCHOOL education. You have to realize that home schooling is better described as free market education. The parent can hire tutors, use videos (taught by experts), teach from their own expertise, use co-ops, and take advantage of community education opportunities such as hands-on science labs. Many home schoolers are able to advance through curriculum more quickly and are able to do joint enrollment by 11th grade.

How many 10 year olds that you know, have seen the Pyramids? The Parthenon? The Palace of Knossos on Crete? Ephesus? The Hagia Sophia? Buckingham Palace? Harrods? The Giant’s Causeway? Carrickfurgus and Dunluce Castles? Or climbed a Hawaiian volcano? Explored Kennedy Space Center? Mine has. None of this would have happened without the freedom of home school…and frequent flier miles!

As for the ancients, we enjoy studying their culture and visiting the remains of their civilizations for its a value in making the Old and New Testament come to life. Sailing to some of the places Paul the Apostle visited was truly exciting for us. Unlike evolutionists, we believe the ancients were originally descendants of Noah, whose first single culture originated in the Tigris -Euphrates Valley. It just so happens that this area is close to the “Mountains of Ararat” as mentioned in Genesis. The various people groups were scattered abroad (Tower of Babel) and formed the basis for the “nations” we see today, related by language, culture, and genetics. The Greeks descended from Noah’s son Japheth, the Egyptians from Ham and the Hebrews from Shem (hence the popular term “anti-s(h)emetic). Unlike evolution, the Biblical account of history would indicate that early civilizations had a sound base of general knowledge, and perhaps advanced technology, as this would have been required to build an ark in Noah’s day. They would also have a fully developed language system with a written form. Of course, in the earliest Mesopotamian civilizations, this is exactly what we find. And it just “appeared” suddenly. Hmmm. The ancients would also have flood accounts, which, of course, we find in both the Epic of Gilgamesh, as well as Greek mythology. According to the Bible,most of the ancients turned from worshiping God to worshiping false gods. There was, however, always a remnant. God chose the ancient Abraham, a native of Babylonia, to carry the torch of Truth. Babylon became the epicenter of anti-God worship (Nana), and so Abraham was called to start a new nation in a new place. Hence, the beginnings of the ancient Hebrews. One can see traces of the original Noahide laws even in ancient pagan Greece culture. I saw first-hand the AMAZING technological advances of the Greeks. One of the stops on our trip included the “Ancient Greek Technology Museum”. I was stunned at their wristwatch sized “Hemispherical sundial with a central gnomon point” which not only defined the 12 hours of the day, but also showed the summer solstice, equinox, and winter solstice. The Greeks were heavily into automatons (robots) and if given electricity and a power grid, were probably poised to create the equivalent of modern computing 2000 years ago. Watch this amazing video:Antikythera Device- an ancient mechanical computer….
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eUibFQKJqI

Well, this is getting too long. But to address your protests, yes, the Greeks/Romans contributed to Western civilization. But it was during the Middle Ages that the Greek/ Roman paganism was rejected while intellectual ideas and knowledge that were compatible with scripture were retained. This became the foundation for higher learning in the West, known as the Liberal Arts. This is what the Pope articulated so well in the article. We can agree to disagree.

NewMinority

August 23rd, 2011
2:12 pm

@Professor
I had a nice long response for you, but for some reason it didn’t post. Maybe later. In short, I prove you wrong. LOL!

NewMinority

August 23rd, 2011
3:16 pm

@Professor
What do you make of this 2000 year old mechanical Greek computer? I have a picture of my spouse standing next to it in the Athens museum.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eUibFQKJqI
http://www.decodingtheheavens.com/

Maureen Downey

August 23rd, 2011
3:21 pm

@New, Length locked you up. You are now free.
Maureen

University Professor

August 23rd, 2011
5:04 pm

@New Minority. I’m Dr. Professor, female variety, thank you.

Ancient classical (Greek and Roman) civilizations involved a great deal more than technological advances. I would hope that you have also taught your children about their philosophy, arts and literature, for that was what influenced later Western civilization and thought so much. The very concept of “democracy” comes from the ancient Athenian form of government. European thought and culture from the Renaissance forward has been very heavy influenced by “neoclassical” thinking.

What originally started this exchange going was your completely erroneous statement: ““The cradle of Western Civilization was the Middle Ages.” Your long entry above about the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, etc., is abt. Eastern Civilization, and thus irrelevant to the discussion.

And by the way–Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington were Deists, NOT Christians. Deists believed that one God created the universe, all right, but not that God could be divided into Father, Holy Ghost, and SON.

V for Vendetta

August 23rd, 2011
5:09 pm

NewMinority,

Well I’ve had my terrifying experience for the day: the fact that you are responsible for shaping and molding the minds of children is, in my opinion, equivalent to mental child abuse. Your “facts” are so ludicrously twisted and unbelievably misguided that–in order to believe them–you must have unburdened yourself from the laws of the universe and known reality long ago. I would venture to say that many whom consider themselves religious on this blog would find fault in your–quite frankly–asinine mutations of history. I won’t bother to correct you since you obviously do not wish to open your mind to the possibility–no matter how slim–that your silly little book written by ancient know-nothings and devoid of any sort of actual revelatory information could be . . . wrong. Fictional. Utter garbage? Sigh. As a teacher, your unfiltered ignorance reminds me of what so many bright and otherwise wonderful children are dealing with at home. I pity your children, for they will never know the truth, complexity, and beauty of human history, the wonder of evolution and genetics, and the amazing capabilities of the human mind.

But what do I know? According to you, I’m a non-person who should have never been born.

V for Vendetta

August 23rd, 2011
5:11 pm

Whom should be who. How silly of me.

NewMinority

August 23rd, 2011
5:13 pm

Speaking of God, did anyone notice the earthquake this afternoon? Seems the National Cathedral lost the top of its spire. The Washington monument may have become the new “leaning tower”, and most alarmingly, 7 nu(ch)lea*r plants are on emergency power in the DC area. Check out this blog post:
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread739414/pg1
and this for eye witness accounts, Don’t rule out HAARP.
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread744030/pg1
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread743980/pg1

V for Vendetta

August 23rd, 2011
5:16 pm

Oh, almost forgot . . .

@Amen,

The Catholic church did not “preserve” art, literature, and music, as you say. The church confiscated or took by force many important artistic works in the name of religion. To this day, the Vatican holds many other countries and cultures artistic works in its extensive vaults. That’s not Dan Brown conspiracy, either. It’s fact.

NewMinority

August 23rd, 2011
6:18 pm

@Ms. Professor
By the way, our Founding Fathers REJECTED democracy as their chosen form of government. They considered it “mob rule”. When asked by citizens what form of government the newly founded United States of America would have, Ben Franklin replied, “a REPUBLIC, if we can keep it.” In fact, they said the new government was for a MORAL and RELIGIOUS people. Well, Ben was right. As a whole, America is no longer moral nor religious, so we have DEVOLVED into an oligarchy, run by a globalist banking cartel. As an aside, Greece has had almost ALL forms of government during its long history, including a Republic. But, nothing exactly like our government. The U.S. government is unique in that it incorporates Biblical ideas as well as classical ones. We have three branches of government based on God the King (executive branch), God the Lawgiver (legislative branch), and God the Judge (judicial branch). The reason our Founding Fathers divided up the power is because they held the Christian Biblical view that man, by nature, is prone to sin, and wisdom is found with many counselors.
The whole idea of personal freedom as encoded in the Constitution, is Biblically based. Martin Luther King Jr. understood this and had the power of Truth behind his challenge against laws that would discriminate based on the color of one’s skin. The same went for slavery. While the Founding Father’s compromised and allowed slave states to enter the Union, the Biblical basis of freedom and value for ALL men, as found in the Declaration of Independence, was upheld, and the morally inconsistent tolerance of slavery was thrown out.

“What originally started this exchange going was your completely erroneous statement: ““The cradle of Western Civilization was the Middle Ages.” Your long entry above about the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, etc., is abt. Eastern Civilization, and thus irrelevant to the discussion.”

If I am not mistaken, the Roman Empire came under Christian influence, first by the Jews of Palestine (Eastern Roman Empire) who followed Jesus. Later the Gospel was spread throughout the Empire by missionaries, including the Apostle Paul. Their influence was so great, that Emperor Constantine was converted (A.D. 306-337) and was not only ruler of the Roman Empire, but also the Church. Later under Emperor Theodosius (A.D. 378-395), the Empire was divided into the Eastern and Western Roman Empires. Therefore, regarding Christianity, The Western Roman Empire, was first influenced by the East, the place of Jesus’ birth, and later it became part of Europe, formed in the Middle Ages. As general knowledge was lost during the decline of the Western Empire, it was in the Church monasteries, especially Ireland, that much of the written knowledge was preserved. Later, these churchmen combined the writings of the Church with selected knowledge and language of the ancients (Greek, Roman, Egyptian) and synthesized a “scholastic” tradition of education. This was the intellectual foundation on which the new Western European cultures rested. That is why I consider that time in history as the “cradle of Western Civilization”. Sorry if you disagree. At least I have succinctly documented my views. How about you?

V for Vendetta

August 23rd, 2011
6:39 pm

Documented? Heh. And just what books are you reading that “document” this? Do share.

University Professor

August 23rd, 2011
7:26 pm

@ NewMinority. “If I am not mistaken, the Roman Empire came under Christian influence, first by the Jews of Palestine (Eastern Roman Empire) who followed Jesus.” No, if they followed Jesus, they were not Jews. They may have been Christian Copts (Egypt) or Eastern Orthodox Christians, but they certainly were not Jews. Jews by definition believe that the Messiah has not yet come on earth.

“As general knowledge was lost during the decline of the Western Empire, it was in the Church monasteries, especially Ireland, that much of the written knowledge was preserved. Later, these churchmen combined the writings of the Church with selected knowledge and language of the ancients (Greek, Roman, Egyptian) and synthesized a “scholastic” tradition of education.”

The West came to know the “knowledge and language of the ancients (Greek, Roman, Egyptian)” because during the Crusades (c. 1100 AD) the West came into contact with the Library of Alexandria where the great Muslim scholar Avicenna had preserved these manuscripts of the ancient world. This was because Islam greatly reverenced all learning. So it was only because of Islam that the treasures of the ancient classical world are now known: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and so on.

University Professor.

August 23rd, 2011
9:12 pm

@ NewMinority. And that’s “Dr. Professor,” not “Ms. Professor.” I have a Ph.D. from a major non-profit University; and it’s in the Humanities, not Education.

NewMinority

August 23rd, 2011
10:34 pm

@ Ms. Professor
We’re like family here. We all have nicknames. If you want some sort of “professional ” recognition, you’ll have to post your title with your first and last name. If your posts are so brilliant, they will speak for themselves. For all you know, I might have my master’s in Medical Illustration. For all I know, you might have your GED.

I must say, your knowledge of the Bible is lacking. Let me suggest that you go and read the Gospel of Matthew. In it you will find the documented JEWISH credentials of Jesus and his followers. Perhaps you have heard the story of the wise men from the east, mentioned at Christmas? They asked King Herod, “Where is he that is born King of the JEWS?” (Matt. 2:2) Amazingly, King Herod (Jewish) consulted his wise men to check the writings of the Jewish prophets to see where this EXPECTED messiah would come from. Here’s what they reported, “And they said unto him, in Bethlehem of Judaea (the land inherited by the descendants of one of the 12 sons of Jacob, Judas; hence the name “Jew”) For it is written by the prophet,
And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda; for
out of thee shall come a Governor (ruler), that shall rule my people Israel.”
Well, read the book and see how everything turned out.
I look forward to reading more of your posts.

Ole Guy

August 24th, 2011
1:04 am

Ashley, I could not agree with you more. I am/have always been a “science guy” in my applications of engineering skills and “equipment” (airplanes) operations. However, at some point in my early education…those years of a mis-spent youth in search of wine, lady, and song…I became infatuated with the works of the pre-Civil War painter Al Bierstadt. I studied his paintings, his life, and, more importantly, the driving forces behind his life. While I am certainly no “arteest”, I am forever mesmorized by the human forces which drive such people to greatness. Being an amatuer military historian, I am, similarly, captivated by those leaders of armed conflict…not so much for the carnage left in their wakes, but for the human spirit which, in the face of fear and uncertainty, enables man (and lady) to press on.

An appreciation of the arts, Ashley, enables us to better appreciate the delicate balances within the saga of human relationships. It is for this very reason, Ashley, that I become very angry over the business communities’ relative lack of appreciation for holders of a liberal arts education.

Good luck and Godspeed, Ashley!

NewMinority

August 24th, 2011
1:10 am

“No, if they followed Jesus, they were not Jews. They may have been Christian Copts (Egypt) or Eastern Orthodox Christians, but they certainly were not Jews.”

Notice I said “first” by the Jews who followed Jesus. The Church of Alexandria (later the Coptic church) was founded by St. Mark, author of the New Testament book of Mark and Jewish follower of Jesus. He preached the Gospel in Roman Egypt and had many converts of Egyptian decent. This church was very influential in the pre-Constantine Church during the Roman Empire. Yet, it was the church after Constantine, A.D. 306-337, and under the official recognition of Rome, that wielded influence during the Middle ages. In contrast, the Arab-Muslims invaded Egypt in A.D. 641, gradually oppressing the Coptic Christians.

The first Christian missionaries came to Ireland from Roman Gaul and Briton in the late 4th and early 5th centuries. One of the early ones included Patrick, originally a kidnapped and enslaved Roman Britton who later returned to evangelize Ireland, the place of his captivity. The church in Ireland grew. According to ATLAS OF IRISH HISTORY, “this newly Christianized and literate society soon began to display evidence of a high level of scholarship, both in Latin and Irish, clerical and secular, all of it heavily influenced by the Church. By the 7th century, Ireland’s monastic schools and libraries were well stocked with the writings of the early Church Fathers, and were beginning to produce scholars and holy men of their own., whose work was comparable with that emanating from anywhere in contemporary Christendom, and which would soon be widely disseminated throughout western Europe.” and “The eleventh and twelfth centuries were a time of expansion throughout western Europe typified by a growth in population and and upturn in economic activity which resulted in a dramatic increase in the number and size of towns…..This was also an era of tremendous intellectual advance as ancient disciplines such as law, philosophy, and theology came under vigorous re-examination, A PROCESS WHICH GAVE RISE TO THE EARLIEST UNIVERSITIES IN WESTERN EUROPE at Paris and Bologna. Religious reform was also in the air as the Church sought to meet popular demands for higher standards among clergy and began to emphasize a more personal approach to spirituality which stressed the individual’s relationship to God.”

NewMinority

August 24th, 2011
1:12 am

OOPS! Should read “descent”. But they’re “decent” people as well…LOL!