The Natural World: Pagans and Christians – Robin Lane Fox, Emeritus Fellow of New College, Oxford University (2018 Thomas Spencer Jerome Lecture Series)

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The series explores the differing approaches to the natural word by pagans and the early Christians from Paul and the Gospels to c AD 500. It brings out differing emphases in their respective writings and art and also asks what practical effects such different ways of seeing had.

Lecture 1: Cosmos and Landscape in Pagan and Christian Views of Creation (October 17th)
Pagan and Christian views of Creation, man’s dominance over the beasts and the vegetal world and on modern theories of a shift from a horizontal view of the relation of the natural world and the divine to a vertical view of it, endorsed by Christianity.

Lecture 2: Flowers and the Vegetal World (October 19th)
the understanding and symbolism of plants and flowers in Christian and pagan art, life and thinking, including the idea of ‘paradise’ and erotic and virginal perceptions of gardens, concluding with the gardening of monks and desert Fathers in natural adversity.

Lecture 3: The Hierarchy of Animals (October 22nd)
Anthropocentric views in the Christians’ scriptures, compared with pagan thinkers’ views …and on the hierarchy and symbolism of animals, including cats, in pagan and Christian art and thinking and on their role in both groups’ experience ,especially those of hunters, martyrs and Christian holy men.

Lecture 4: Signs and Catastrophes (October 24th)
Compared pagan and Christian notions of omens and signs, prodigies and miracles and their explanations of natural catastrophes, including volcanic and seismic disasters, still familiar in our world. It will conclude with Christians’ contrasting view of the End of the world and the place of perverted natural symbols in expressing it.
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Map Rackham Graduate School (Horace H.) - Amphitheatre

October 2018

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4:00pm - 5:30pm

Map Palmer Commons - Forum Hall

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4:00pm - 5:30pm
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4:00pm - 5:30pm

Map Angell Hall - 3222

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4:00pm - 5:30pm

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