Alexa Turczynski, Contributing Writer
Professor Dr. Matthew Walz will be presenting his translation of St. Anselm’s Proslogion at a book launch May 1 at 5 p.m. in Gorman Faculty Lounge.
“The Proslogion was a work written by Anselm for his brother monks in order to help them in their meditation on God. The Proslogion, therefore, is about God, but perhaps it would be more precise to say that it is about how to ‘think God,’” Walz said. “My motivation was to provide a more faithful translation that captured both the rhythm and density of the Latin text and that rendered the Latin text in a way that showed more awareness for the shared roots of words and other such connections that Anselm is utilizing.”
Walz explained that one of the more challenging aspects of the project was finding those English words that best fit all of the Latin word meanings.
Over the course of translating the Proslogion, Walz says that he discovered the beautiful structure and order of the work more fully. In addition, he realized the incredible timelessness of Anselm’s work.
“We often speak about the ‘Great Books,’ among which we would count Anselm’s Proslogion. The greatness of such books lies not only in their content, but also in the beauty of their presentation and structure—a structure whose aim often is teaching, i.e., putting things together in a way that not only appeals to our minds, but also to our hearts, and thus moves us to accept what is said with confidence,” Walz explained. “This aspect of the beauty of the Great Books allows them to have an enduring appeal, one that is not easily overturned. Indeed, despite all the changes in our understanding of the world, many of the questions that are asked in a book like the Proslogion are asked today. In this way, by appealing deeply to the human heart and its longing for God, the Proslogion and other such works transcends historical time and brings all of us into a kind of contemporaneity, inasmuch as we all struggles with similar problems and difficulties in facing the meaningfulness of each of our lives.”
“Finally, I learned a lot about Anselm as a teacher in the context of a monastery (as distinct from that of a ‘city university’),” Walz said. “We at UD and elsewhere could learn a lot about ourselves and our institution by thinking about the kind of learning community that we are, whether it is more ‘monastic’ or ‘scholastic’ in character.”
In addition to the Proslogion, Walz has also translated an edition of Thomas Aquinas’ On Being on Essence, which he uses in his Philosophy of Being courses. He has also begun a translation of Anselm’s De grammatico.
“I am hoping as well to write a work that considers the works of Anselm as a whole and how they add up to a coherent approach to the whole of reality, that in many ways has the Proslogion itself as the fruitful center,” Walz said.
At the book launch, philosophy department chair Dr. Phillip Rosemann will also be presenting three other works that have been published in the growing Dallas Medieval Texts and Translations series.
“All are invited to come, especially those who may be interested in the philosophy of God, medieval thought and the history of philosophy and theology,” Walz said.