Q&A with Montague Brown

We were delighted to have Montague Brown on our blog to discuss The Saint Anselm Journal and what it has to offer scholars. Montague Brown is a professor of philosophy at Saint Anselm College and the Editor of The Saint Anselm Journal. The Saint Anselm Journal is a refereed journal of articles, discussion papers, and book reviews that examine the life, thought, teachings, and spirituality of Saint Anselm of Canterbury as well as proceedings of programs sponsored by the Institute for Saint Anselm Studies.

Q: Can you speak a little bit about what drew you to Anselm as a scholar?

A: St. Anselm is among the three greatest thinkers of the Middle Ages. Along with St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, he has made a signal contribution to the philosophical and theological life of the Christian community. Having written my dissertation on St. Thomas and done a fair amount of work on St. Augustine, it was enlightening to see how St. Anselm learned from one and influenced the other, always with his own voice and unique insights. As the second Archbishop of Canterbury after William the Conqueror’s invasion, Anselm was also much involved in Church-State relations and the issue of investiture. In addition to his intellectual and political engagement, Anselm’s letters, poems, and meditations are filled with wisdom and profound meaning. There is truly something for everyone in his writings and his historical legacy. 

Q: What do you think The Saint Anselm Journal offers the scholarly community that may not be filled by other books or journals on Anselm? 

A: The Saint Anselm Journal publishes both historically based articles on Anselm—along with his predecessors, and those he influenced—and systematic articles on topics of interest to him, such as what we can know about God, the reality of human freedom, and the relations between of faith and reason in the dynamic Catholic intellectual tradition of faith seeking understanding. These systematic articles include studies from the whole history of philosophy and theology. Because the Journal is associated with the Institute for Saint Anselm Studies, at Saint Anselm College, we are able to publish invited papers on various topics of interest. The Institute sponsors two lectures at the College each year, which the Journal publishes—the Fides et Ratio Lecture in the fall, and the Saint Anselm Lecture in the spring. We also publish selected papers from the yearly satellite session in conjunction with the American Catholic Philosophical Meeting, from the yearly Metaphysics Conference at the College, and from our Anselm Conferences, offered every four years. We are particularly pleased to have published some of the writings of the brilliant theologian, Donald J. Keefe, S.J., whose work deserves to be much better known.

Q: How do you envision the Journal developing in the years ahead?

A: We intend to continue efforts to publish pieces on Anselm’s philosophy, his theology, his poems and meditations, and his historical activities as prior and abbot of the monastery at Bec, and then as Archbishop of Canterbury. Additionally, we plan on continuing to offer a place for pieces on philosophical and theological metaphysics, some of which are related to the work of Fr. Keefe, whose focus is on the Catholic tradition of fides quaerens intellectum, in the line of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Q: What does St. Anselm have to offer a contemporary audience, what do his writings continue to offer us?

A: Anselm offers insights into the existence and nature of God, human freedom, and the relations between reason and faith: in all these areas, Anselm’s thought continues to be have a place in current debates. He also contributes to the understanding of the different dimensions of human reason, deepening our understanding of its moral and aesthetic aspects. Perhaps most importantly, he is a great example of the Christian intellectual who seeks to know all that is true, good, and beautiful in a quest for ever deeper understanding of the world, the human being, and God.

For the latest on The Saint Anselm Journal, you can find subscription information here

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