First Things | 1/18/2019 | Stephen E. Lewis
loranseen (Posted by) Level 3
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Last week, a controversy erupted over a book I assigned in a five-student advanced literature seminar at the Franciscan University of Steubenville (FUS) during the Spring 2018 semester. Not wishing to further divide our university community, I trusted that my superiors at FUS would handle the matter appropriately and I refrained from public comment. But many observers have assumed that Franciscan University’s decision to remove me from my role as chair of the English Department confirms that I assigned the book out of hostility to orthodox Catholic belief. Because nothing could be further from the truth, many friends have urged me to explain why I put Emmanuel Carrère’s The Kingdom on my syllabus in the first place. Now that some time has passed, I feel a duty to the Franciscan University community and others concerned by the uproar to provide an account.

My course focused on twentieth-century French literature about the Bible. During the semester, we examined selected works on the Bible by prominent French writers and philosophers like Charles Péguy, Paul Claudel, François Mauriac, Jean-Paul Sartre, Roger Caillois, Carrère, and Jean-Louis Chrétien. The majority of the readings were works by central figures in the twentieth-century Catholic renaissance in France, while Chrétien’s work is part of the vital Catholic stream in contemporary phenomenology. Sartre, Caillois, and Carrère are agnostics or atheists who, among other things, wrote works on the Bible. We read and discussed each work on its own, and considered it in the context created by the reading list. Where pertinent, we also explored the works in relation to some of the approaches to the Bible that have characterized the modern period, including the historical-critical method, modernism, existentialism, and ressourcement, a scholarly movement that has revived patristic and medieval approaches to Scripture. Each student wrote approximately twenty-five pages of argumentative...
(Excerpt) Read more at: First Things
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