Monthly Archives: July 2011

Sean’s Week in Review

The Week In Review

In a quixotic attempt to write more and reinvigorate this blog, I present to you the new feature, the week in the review wherein I note books acquired, work done, and posts written.

Acquisitions:
On Writing Well: 30th Anniversary Edition, William Zinsser (amazon)

Hell on Two Wheels: An Astoning Story of Suffering, Triumph and the Most Extreme Endurance Race in the World, Amy Snyder (Amazon)

Running on Empty: An Ultramarathoner’s Story of Love, Loss, and a Record –Setting Run Across America, Marshall Ulrich (Amazon)

Study:

Restarted the study of Hebrew on Shabbat, putting in 1.25 hours and getting through a part of the alphabet. The plan with this is to get a decent level of letter recognition / pronunciation in the coming months and then focus in on vocabulary. Its intimidating, but an exciting project. I’ll probably post more about this.

Posts:

I reviewed Aristotle’s Children by Richard Rubenstein here

Rubenstein’s Aristotle’s Children

Aristotle’s Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages

Richard Rubenstein

I have for some time been interested in the interplay between classical Greek philosophy, rabbinic Judaism, and early Christian thought. Neo-platonic thought and early Christian doctrine share a lot in common, and Aristotle had a clear influence on the codification of the Talmud. So when I saw the subtitle of this book, I was excited for an overview of that area of history. I guess I should have read the back cover before I purchased this one, because the title is highly misleading. This book has almost no information about the early Christian era; it is a book about the rediscovery of classical thought in the high middle ages and Renaissance. Think Thomas Aquinas and Peter Abelard, not Rabbi Akiva and Augustine of Hippo.

Though this book turned out to not be at all what I was looking for, it was interesting. As a theology buff, I enjoyed the arguments regarding the nature of the trinity, the infighting between the competing monastic orders, and the turn towards Aristotelian logic in theological debate. You can look down your nose at monks arguing over the question of how many angels fit on the head of a pin, but the rigor that people like Aquinas and Abelard brought to the discussion of theological questions is the foundation for the logistical thinking which brought us the scientific revolution. And the scientific revolution brought you the iphone, so shut up.

Aristotle’s Children may not have been what I was looking for, but as a piece of popular religious history, it’s a good read. Recommended for the curious.

 

– Sean