Lecture #2

Posted on October 11, 2005 by Holly Hayes
Part of: Graduate School in Oxford

I had my second lecture this morning at 10. It was another fun one, and this time it was absolutely packed. It was the same type of room I described yesterday (also in the Examinations Schools), but must have had almost 100 people in it. People were sitting on the floor in the back and up the middle aisle! I arrived about 5 minutes early and managed to snag a chair on the aisle, which was excellent.

The lecture was another interesting one. The series is entitled "Christian Doctrine before Nicea." "Before Nicea" means "before 325 AD," the year of the Council of Nicea (a city in modern Turkey). Shortly after Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire, the council of bishops was called to resolve various theological and practical disputes that had arisen. The Nicene Creed that is still recited in churches came out of that meeting. And according to The Da Vinci Code, that's when the Emperor Constantine "invented" the idea of the divinity of Christ, which somehow suppressed the sacred feminine and advanced his political goals. Historically (and logically), that's not even close to true - I'll be writing articles on about it before the movie comes out! :)

ANYway, Nicea makes a convenient dividing point for Christian history, and early Christian writers and leaders are often divided into "pre-Nicene" and "post-Nicene." Today's lecture was basically an introduction to the intellectual environment and prevailing worldviews at the time the earliest Christian writers were writing. I learned interesting stuff about Jewish (Old Testament plus writings of rabbis around Jesus' time) and philosophical (Plato, Stoicism, etc.) ideas about divinity, which may provide some insight into how the earliest Christians understood Jesus to be in some sense divine.

In other news, they are spreading poop on the lawn outside our window. (Gives a nice double meaning to the title of this post.) Cow poop, to be specific, in big, dark, steaming piles of it, which they then rake into the grass. It's another nice day so we have the windows open and it smells like a cow pasture in here. But I'm from the country, so there are a lot worse smells as far as I'm concerned. Still, only at Wolfson College would they wait until term starts to fertilize the lawns. I hope there's a good rain before our friend Brenda arrives!