Seton Hall University

Core II classes begin with Plato and New Testament  


Death of Socrates.

Inside the Core this week, most CORE II students have already begun reading texts from Plato and the early Christians, beginning with either the first letter of John or the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians. These texts all address issues that are complex and relevant to our world today.

The main text by Plato being read in CORE II is the Crito, which recounts Socrates' student Crito's attempt to talk his beloved teacher into escaping from house arrest, where he awaited the sentence of death, soon to be administered. In the dialogue between Crito and Socrates, Plato explores the arguments of his own teacher, Socrates, in support of staying to die in order to be true to his principles. This was not what Crito wanted to hear, but what he himself agrees is correct by the end of the dialogue.

St. Paul preaching

St. Paul preaching.

The Letter of Paul to the Corinthians also brings up a large number of moral issues faced by early Christians in the city of Corinth. Paul is guiding these new converts to a different understanding of their world --- key issues would be unity, the importance of differing roles and gifts in the church, the meaning of the Eucharist (Communion) and life after death. A key chapter is 1 Cor. 13, the famous litany to love (agape in Greek), which is essentially the heart of the letter.

First John similarly focuses on love, though it also deals with the nature of sin (and how all of us are sinners, but confessing that will bring forgiveness) and the new nature available to every believer of being a child of God. Chapter 4 focuses especially on love, as being at the heart of life in Christ; "there is no fear in love," we are told, as "perfect love casts out fear." These new believers needed very much to hear these words offering strength and faith, as they were facing persecution, often leading to death for their beliefs.

painting image of Saint John the Evangelist

St. John the Evangelist

So, that brings us back, full circle, to Plato. As we look at Christianity and Culture in Dialogue, we can examine how these texts speak to each other about taking a stand for what we believe. For Plato (and for Socrates) truth is the guiding principle; for Paul and John (and the early Christians), truth is crucially important, but love is at the center of it all.

On the list of reading questions given to Core II students for Plato's Crito, a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. is given at the end. How fitting we read these texts just after having celebrating Martin Luther King Day and Seton Hall's wonderful events in honor of it. The quote from King speaks meaningfully to all the texts Core II students are reading during these first days of class, as well as to the challenging times in which we live: "If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."

Categories: Education , Faith and Service

For more information, please contact:

  • Nancy Enright
  • (551) 358-7667