Constance Furey, Indiana University (Bloomington)
This paper begins with a story from the public university classroom, recounting an assignment that required students to engage in lectio divina
, a form of reading developed by medieval Christian monks. I contextualize the mixed reactions this assignment provokes by explaining, first, how devotional reading came to be understood as antithetical to critical thought and modern reading practices and, second, how that bifurcation might be complicated by humanist theology. The latter section of the paper will focus on John Colet and Desiderius Erasmus, specifically, to argue that their theories of textual energeia
challenge current assumptions about the differences between sacred and secular texts, and religious and secular readers. Influenced as they were by lectio divina
, even as they contributed to what became a modern style of hermeneutics, Erasmus and Colet offer an elusive yet elegant design for thinking about the transformative power of literary texts.
Sponsored by the Catholic Studies Program