The Companionship of Books

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2011-11-17
  • Publisher: Lexington Books

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This volume is a collection of essays by various contributors in honor of the late Laurence Berns, Richard Hammond Elliot Tutor Emeritus at St. John's College, Annapolis. The essays address the literary, political, theological, and philosophical themes of his life's work as a scholar, teacher, and constant companion of the "great books." Included are essays interpreting biblical books, as well as books by Homer, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Plato, Virgil, Dante, Spinoza, Milton, Rousseau, Darwin, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Camus, and H.G. Wells. Like their honoree, the essayists aim at understanding such books as their authors wished them to be understood-for the light they shed on universal and timeless questions about God, nature, and human life which animated the authors themselves and which they saw fit to share, elegantly and eloquently, with thoughtful readers. Each essay is, in its way, a model of how to read and reflect on the writings of the great authors.

Author Biography

Sharon Portnoff is assistant professor of religious studies at Connecticut College. Martin D. Yaffe is professor of philosophy and religion studies at University of North-Texas.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
Athens and Jerusalem
"In the Beginning …"p. 3
The Mazkirp. 13
The Philosophy of Socrates or the Gods the City Believes Inp. 39
The Transformation of Courage in Plato's Lachesp. 65
Literature Ancient and Modern
Herodotus and Homer on Helen: An Essay on History and Poetryp. 87
Treason and Parricide among the Ancient Greeksp. 103
For Love of One's Teachers: Dante, Virgil, and Paganismp. 117
How One Philosophizes with a Scalpel: Darwin, Nietzsche, and Wells' s The Island of Doctor Moreaup. 131
Literature and the Moral Universe: Camus's The Stranger and Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishmentp. 161
The Turn to the New World
Spinoza's Defense of the Bible: A Model of Modern Statesmanshipp. 187
Jaffa's Missing Link: Milton's Natural Right Republicanismp. 203
The Return to First Things
The Essence of Babel: Rousseau on the Origin of Languagesp. 229
The Domestication of Nature: A Reading of Darwin's The Origin of Speciesp. 251
Publicationsp. 269
Indexp. 275
About the Contributorsp. 281
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