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Jewish and Greek Views on the Human Condition

Date: Tuesday, Aug. 10 | 7:00–8:30 PM EDT

The attempt to account for an essential feature of the human condition through the story of a “fall from our ancient nature” shows up in two texts, one from the Bible, one from Greek philosophy. In the Symposium, Plato puts into the mouth of the comic poet Aristophanes a speech on eros that describes every human being as a fragmented half, longing for reunification with the other who could restore it to the whole it once was, before being subjected to divine punishment for its original ambition. That speech bears a striking resemblance to the account in Genesis of the primordial Adam created in the image of God, male and female at once, followed by the division of one being into man and woman, who go on to violate God’s most fundamental prohibition. In this seminar, we will explore what a comparison of the two texts can tell us about Athens and Jerusalem, the two roots of the Western tradition.

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