One of the first assignments
As long as I remember, my first assignment in theology was about Athanasius. This happened in one of my masters course. My teacher at that time was an Italian man, very smart and a excellent professor. He taught us about the Patrology, focusing on Athanasius work and also in Lonnergan´s method about the knowledge.
In the end of the course, we should write an article about the discipline. My first article received a bad review, something like: “this is not a master´s work”, but still, I got a good grade to pass e move forward.
In the same year, I did what was call a reading seminar with the same professor. In this seminar, every student should choose a book, read and then make some presentation about the reading. I took Athanasius book “The Verb incarnation” and tried to make a dialog between Athanasius view of death and Bultmann´s view of death.
How did I do that?
One of the Athanasius claims was that those who have faith, they are fearless about the death. Of course, we have to remember that the martyrdom was a great prove of faith during Athanasius time and also the expectation about the eternal life, based on Paul’s work gave us a good background to understand Athanasius point of view.
Bultmann, one of the great theologians of the XX century, was totally influenced by Heidegger´s thoughts. For him, the man who has faith is a man who doesn´t have so much concerns about the future, but he lives in God’s dependence, since he had experienced the salvation of God here and now in his life.
What I tried to do in my work was to show that the Athanasius view about death and the Bultmann’s view about death could be brought together under the category of the dependence of God and fearless about the future (Bultmann) and death (Athanasius).
For Athanasius the life after death is so much more than we can imagine living here. If is that so, why should we fear the death? For Bultmann, a authentic life is a life in God´s dependence (and here is interesting for us to remember that, for Bultmann, know that we will die, makes us live more intensely). In this sense, worry about the future ( in the sense of living by what I can touch, prove and measure) is the same that don´t have faith in God.
Even knowing the great difference of generation and Sitz im Leben of the two theologians, my attempt was to bring then together into dialogue.
I don´t think my professor liked so much, once he is a very orthodox priest, but I still think that we can, in somehow, make this dialogue possible now.
And like this, my academical theological studies started.