My first trip to Scotland was in the fall of 2001. I earned a master’s degree in theology, then decided to visit Scotland once again for doctoral studies. The narrative below discusses what I learned while conducting my research for the Ph.D. in religion and theology.
My Curriculum as a Doctoral Student in Scotland
I embarked upon a graduate course of study at the University of Glasgow (United Kingdom) between the years 2003-2008. My research entailed an investigation of the early church and its philosophical underpinnings. For instance, I studied numerous dialogues written by Plato (the Republic, Cratylus, Theaetetus, and Timaeus). The focal point of my analysis was to determine how Platonic thought and other theoretical accounts shaped ancient Christian discourse regarding God the Father.
I was able to discern that early Christianity’s view of a transcendent God owed a great debt to texts like Timaeus 28C. That passage speaks about the impossibility or difficulty of articulating the divine being. Moreover, I gained an in-depth knowledge of the relationship between Platonic theory and apophatic theology. Apophatic theology emphasizes what cannot be said about God. For instance, if we profess that God is immortal or infinite, then a statement is being made about what God is not: the Christian deity is not mortal or finite. The kind of theology that negates divine finitude continues to be a distinctive eastern Christian approach to God.
My Doctoral Dissertation Investigated Philosophy and Theology
My doctoral dissertation encompassed the subjects of ancient and contemporary metaphor theory. A prominent representative of classical metaphor theory is Aristotle. His substitution theory of metaphor (based on his works Rhetoric and Poetics) played a formative role in my study. By means of this investigation, I became familiar with how Aristotle’s definition of metaphor influenced subsequent discourse on figurative speech. It helped me to understand ancient paternal imagery for God.
Ethics (moral theory) was also part of my curriculum since Aristotle and the Stoics developed influential theories of emotion which are discussed in early Christian writers. For instance, an early Christian author named Lactantius criticizes the Stoic theory of emotions.
Benefits from Studying in Scotland
I have become intimately familiar with Platonic and Aristotelian literature by means of my graduate school experience. Studying in the United Kingdom deepened my understanding of Greek, Latin, philosophy, rhetoric, and the early church. This ability enhances my understanding of the primary literature written by Greek and Roman philosophers.