Several weeks ago I wrote an essay for this illustrious journal entitled “The Seven Pillars of Western Civilization” in which I listed the seven seminal tomes which form the textual foundation of the civilization of the West. These are The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid, The Bible, The City of God, the Summa Theologica and The Divine Comedy. Collectively, these texts epitomize why Western Civilization is founded on the three civilizations of Athens, Jerusalem and Rome.
This is not the place to offer explanations with respect to the rationale for why these seven texts were selected instead of other contenders. Those interested in understanding the reason for the selection are invited to read the original essay.
What surprised me was that several readers of the original essay admonished me for failing to include the Qur’an as one of the seven pillars of wisdom on which Western Civilization is built. This seems to beg the obvious question which I thought my essay had answered implicitly. What exactly is Western Civilization? If it is anything at all, it must be something rooted in a cohesive and coherent set of common values, which are themselves the fruit of cohesive and coherent theological and philosophical principles. In brief and in sum, Western Civilization in its fullness and fruitfulness is a synonym for Christendom. It is the consummation of the mythological and philosophical musings of the Greeks and the fulfilment of the theological covenant of the Jews in the Person of Jesus Christ as made manifest in the Church He founded throughout the centuries since His Incarnation. The quest and questions of Athens and Jerusalem are fulfilled and answered in the Gospel as enunciated by the One who proclaims Himself to be the Way, the Truth and the Life. Christ incarnates the transcendental trinity of the Good, the True and the Beautiful in who He is.