This lecture course, which includes discussion sections, will explore the often uneasy relationship between pagan or classical culture and Christianity in the Renaissance. While focusing on the Renaissance, we will begin with early Christian society and the Middle Ages. From the few explicit references of Paul of Tarsus to pagan philosophy in his own day, we will move to the early Christian theologians or Church Fathers, who very often pointed to the dangers of classical learning.
After a survey of Medieval teachings, we will explore in depth Francis Petrarch's efforts, in the fourteenth century, to balance classical and Christian ideals. Humanist thinking of the fifteenth century will be examined around several themes:
Finally we will examine the Protestant Reformers and their attitudes toward classical antiquity. The course will require weekly readings in primary sources, a few quizzes, a midterm and final, and a research paper exploring in depth a subject of the student's choosing.