cover of book

Supper at Emmaus
Glenn W. Olsen
Catholic University of America Press, 2016
Cloth: 978-0-8132-2894-5 | eISBN: 978-0-8132-2895-2
Library of Congress Classification B74.O47 2016

Supper at Emmaus traces various important intellectual topics from the ancient world to the modern period. Generally, as in its treatment of the question of whether the long-standing contrast between cyclical and linear views of history is helpful, it introduces important thinkers who have considered the question. A preoccupation of the book is the appearance and reappearance across the centuries of patterns used to organize temporal and cultural experience. After an opening essay on transcendental truth and cultural relativism, the second chapter traces a distinction, common in historical writings during the past two centuries, between an alleged ancient classical "cyclic" view of time and history, used to describe the claimed repetitiveness of and similarities between historical events ("nothing is new under the sun"), and a contrasting Jewish-Christian linear view, sometimes described as providential in that it moves through a series of unique events to some end intended by God. In the latter, history is "about something," the education of the human race or the redemption of humankind. As in each of the remaining essays, the book then attempts to draw out the limitations of what the current consensus on this topic has become. It does this for such things as our current understanding of religious toleration, humanism, natural law, and teleology. Some of the essays, such as those on debate about Augustine's understanding of marriage or the concluding illustrated essay on the baroque city of Lecce, are published for the first time. Others are based on previously published contributions to the scholarly literature, though generally each of these chapters concludes with a postscript that engages with current scholarly debate on the subject.
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