Curriculum vitae



James Richard Wetzel

Augustinian Endowed Chair in the Thought of St. Augustine and Professor of Philosophy

Villanova University

800 Lancaster Avenue

Villanova, PA 19085

Email: James.Wetzel@Villanova.Edu


Office: 177 St. Augustine Center

Phone: 610-519-4709


Wife: Nathalie; Daughter: Anna




B.A., summa cum laude, Princeton University (1982)

M.A., M.Phil., Columbia University (1984, 86)

Ph.D., Columbia University (1990)


Language study:


Intensive Latin, CUNY Latin-Greek Institute, 1985, summa cum laude

Advanced Latin, CUNY Latin-Greek Institute, 1995, summa cum laude

Diplôme de langue, French Government, 1996




Areas of focus: Augustine and the Augustinian tradition of philosophy, moral psychology, ethics, the metaphysics of evil


Areas of interest: late antique and early medieval philosophy, modern philosophy and religious thought (the Cartesian turn), postmodernism and confession (the legacy of Wittgenstein)




(2005-        ) The Augustinian Chair in the Thought of Saint Augustine and Professor of Philosophy, Villanova University


(1988-2005) Colgate University, Department of Philosophy and Religion (tenured and promoted to associate professor, July of 1994; promotion to full professor, July of 2004)


(Spring 2003) Brown University, Visiting Associate Professor of Religious Studies


(2001-2002) Princeton University, Visiting Associate Professor of Religion and Eli Lilly Lecturer in Christian Thought and Practice at Center for the Study of Religion


(1991-92) University of Notre Dame, Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Fellow at the Center for the Philosophy of Religion



Courses taught


Introduction to Philosophy

Introduction to Religion


Western Traditions (formerly The Roots of Western Civilization)

Philosophy of Religion: The Modern Context

Seminar in the Philosophy of Religion

Selected topics: Radical evil, guilt and forgiveness, myth and mortality, the

question of patriarchy (with Marilyn Thie)

Re-envisioning Eros: Feminist philosophy and Political Imagination (with Marilyn Thie)

The Play’s the Thing: Philosophy and Drama

Philosophical Reflections on Moral Imperfection

Mysticism and Philosophical Reflection

Medieval Philosophy     

Plato and his Predecessors

Beyond the Death of God: Faith and Politics in Crisis (with Robert Kraynak)

From Eros to Sin: Augustine’s Transformation of Plato

Self-Knowledge and the Death of God: Plato, Nietzsche, Irigaray

Originality and Knowledge: Augustine, Descartes, Wittgenstein

Theory and Method in the Study of Religion

The Problem of Evil: Classical and Modern Approaches

Core Humanities: Modernity and its Discontents

Core Humanities: The Classical Traditions

Virtue Theory

The Philosophy of Late Antiquity

Philosophies of the Will: Augustine and Modernity

Wittgenstein: Logic and Sanctity



Recognition for Teaching


Nominated Phi Eta Sigma Professor of the Year (1989-90; 91-92)


Finalist, Phi Eta Sigma (1992-93; 93-94)


Phi Eta Sigma Professor of the Year (1997)


Panhellenic Award for Excellence in Teaching (2000)


Selected to participate in the Wabash Center national study (Fall 2004): “Teaching Introductory Theology and Religion: Lessons from the Practices of Fifty Effective Teachers” (The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning is located at the University of Notre Dame)





A. Book


Augustine and the Limits of Virtue. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.


B. Chapters in Books


“Body Double: Saint Augustine and the Sexualized Will,” in Weakness of Will from Plato to the Present, ed. Tobias Hoffmann (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University Press, 2008), pp. 58-81.


“Augustine: Prodigal Heart,” chapter 19 of The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Emotion, ed. John Corrigan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 349-363.


“The Trappings of Woe: Book IV’s Confession of Grief,” in A Reader’s Companion to Augustine’s Confessions, ed. Kim Paffenroth and Robert P. Kennedy (Louisville, London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), pp. 53-69.


“Myth and Moral Philosophy” in Thinking Through Myths: Philosophical Perspectives, ed. Kevin Schilbrack (London and New York: Routledge, 2002), pp. 123-141.


“Pelagianism, Predestination, and Foreknowledge,” in The Cambridge Companion to Augustine. Ed. Eleonore Stump and Norman Kretzmann (Cambridge, 2001), pp. 49-58.


“Snares of Truth: Augustine on Free Will and Predestination,” in Augustine and his Critics. Ed. Robert Dodaro and George Lawless  (Routledge, 2000), pp. 124-141.


Essays on Sin, Guilt, Ad Simplicianum in Augustine through the Ages: An Encyclopedia, ed. Allan D. Fitzgerald, O.S.A (Eerdmans, 1999), pp. 407-408, 798-799, 800-802 (these are double-columned pages).


“Pelagius Anticipated: Grace and Election in Augustine’s Ad Simplicianum,” in Augustine: From Rhetor to Theologian. Ed. Joanne McWilliam (Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier Press, 1992), pp. 121-132.


“Can Theodicy Be Avoided? The Claim of Unredeemed Evil,” in The Problem of Evil: Selected Readings. Ed. Michael L. Peterson (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992), pp. 351-365.


C. Articles


“Wittgenstein’s Augustine: The Inauguration of the Later Philosophy” Polygraph: An International Journal of Culture and Politics 19/20 (2008) 129-147.


“The Force of Memory: Reflections on the Interrupted Self,” Augustinian Studies 38:1 (2007) 147-159.


“From Aphrodite to God the Father,” Theology Today 64.1 (April 2007) 25-35.


“God in the Cave: A Look Back at Robert Merrihew Adams, Finite and Infinite Goods,” Journal of Religious Ethics 34.3 (2006) 487-520.


“Surviving Survival: Anticipations of Life after War,” Occasional Papers (Villanova University), Volume 11: Reflections on Iraq (Fall 2005), pp. 4-6.


“The Humanity of God,” Augustinian Studies 36:1 (2005) 219-226.


“Splendid Vices and Secular Virtues: Variations on Milbank’s Augustine,” Journal of Religious Ethics, Special Issue on History and Morality in John Milbank’s Radical Orthodoxy, edited by John Bowlin 32.2 (Summer 2004) 271-300.


“Will and Interiority in Augustine: Travels in an Unlikely Place,” Augustinian Studies 33.2 (2002) 139-160.


“A Meditation on Hell: Lessons from Dante,” Modern Theology 18.3 (July 2002) 375-394.


“El teatro de la memoria. Una mirada a las certezas posmodernas de Augustin,” Augustinus 46.180-181 (Madrid, 2001) 147-154. [This is a translation of “The Theatre of Memory: A View to Augustine’s Postmodern Certainties”]


“The Question of Consuetudo Carnalis in Confessions 7.17.23,” Augustinian Studies 31:2 (2000) 165-171; Spanish translation: “La cuestión de la consuetudo carnalis en ‘conf’. 7,23” in Augustinus: San Agustín en Oxford (Madrid, 2003) 309-314.


“Crisis Mentalities: Augustine after Descartes,” American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Special Issue on St. Augustine, ed. Roland J. Teske 64.1 (2000) 115-133.


“Some Thoughts on the Anachronism in Forgiveness,” Journal of Religious Ethics 27.1 (Spring 1999) 83-102.


“Moral Personality, Perversity, and Original Sin,” Journal of Religious Ethics 23.1 (Spring 1995) 3-25; in the same issue, pp. 35-38: “The Missing Adam: A Reply to Gilbert Meilander.”


“Time After Augustine,” Religious Studies 31:3 (1995) 341-57.


“Infinite Return: Two Ways of Wagering with Pascal,” Religious Studies 29 (1993) 139-49.


 “The Recovery of Free Agency in the Theology of St. Augustine,” Harvard Theological Review 80 (1987) 101-25.


D. Annotated Bibliography


“Religion,” in American Studies: An Annotated Bibliography. Vol. II. Ed. Jack Salzman.

                Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.


E. Reviews


Various reviews, in Auto/Biography Studies, Religious Studies, Ethics, Review of Metaphysics, Faith and Philosophy, Journal of Religion, Church History, Journal of Early Christian Literature, The European Legacy, Augustinian Studies, Modern Theology, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, The Colgate Scene




John Peter Kenney, The Mysticism of Saint Augustine, Notre Dame On-Line Philosophical Reviews,, posted 8.18.2007.


Robert A. Markus, Christianity and the Secular, reviewed in Church History 76:2 (June 2007) 395-397.


Paul J. Griffiths, Lying: An Augustinian Theology of Duplicity, reviewed in Journal of Religion 86.3 (2006) 496-497.


J. Joyce Schuld, Foucault and Augustine: Reconsidering Love and Power, reviewed in Journal of Religion 86.2 (2006) 338-339.


James J. O’Donnell, Augustine: A New Biography, reviewed in Early Christian Studies 13.4 (Winter 2005) 528-530.


Thomas Pink and M.W.F. Stone, eds. The Will and Human Action: From Antiquity to the Present Day, reviewed in Religious Studies 41.2 (2005) 242-246.


Coleman Brown, Our Hearts are Restless Till They Find Their Rest in Thee: Selected Sermons to the Colgate University Church 1974-1989, reviewed in the May 2004 issue of The Colgate Scene.


Robert P. Kraynak, Christian Faith and Modern Democracy: God and Politics in the Fallen World, reviewed in the January 2002 issue of The Colgate Scene.


Gareth B. Matthews, ed. The Augustinian Tradition, reviewed in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion 69.2 (2001) 498-501.


Roland J. Teske, Paradoxes of Time in St. Augustine, reviewed in Augustinian Studies 28.2 (1997) 159-163.


Jean Bethke Elshtain, Augustine and the Limits of Politics, reviewed in Modern Theology 13.4 (1997) 554-556.


Leszek Kolakowski, God Owes Us Nothing: A Brief Remark on Pascal’s Religion and on the Spirit of Jansenism, reviewed in Religious Studies 33 (1997) 127-129.


John Rist, Augustine: Ancient Thought Baptized, reviewed in The European Legacy: Toward New Paradigms 1.5 (August 1996) 1826-27.


Carol Harrison. Beauty and Revelation in the Thought of St. Augustine, reviewed in Religious Studies 30 (1994) 126-128.


Paul J. Griffiths, An Apology for Apologetics, reviewed in Faith and Philosophy 11.1 (1994) 152-156.


Robert McMahon, Augustine’s Prayerful Ascent: An Essay on the Literary From of the Confessions, reviewed in Auto/Biography Studies, Special Issue, Autobiography and Mysticism 6.2 (1991) 272-276.




“The Original Sin,” Belk Endowed Lecture in Christian Ethics, Wesleyan College, October 23, 2007.


“The End of the Soliloquy: Towards a Later Augustine,” Workshop at the XVth International Patristics Conference, Oxford University, August 8, 2007.


“Augustine’s Short History of Philosophy,” Seminar at Catholic University, School of Philosophy, Series in Augustine and Augustinianism, October 6, 2006; revised version, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, January 30, 2007.


“The Force of Memory: Reflections on the Interrupted Self,” Retractationes II, Villanova University, September 29, 2006.


“Body Double: Saint Augustine and the Sexualized Will,” given first at the University of Richmond, February 3, 2006, and then revised and presented as the inaugural lecture for the Augustinian Chair in the Thought of Saint Augustine, Villanova University, February 10, 2006.


“Wittgenstein’s Confessional Voice: Augustine’s Inauguration of the Later Philosophy,” for the Theorizing Series, Kelly Writers House, University of Pennsylvania, November 8, 2005.


“Labored Knowledge: Hauerwas on Augustine on Evil,” Conference at Duke University, January 27-29th, 2005, “Speak No Evil: Moral Judgment in the Modern Age.” My response to Hauerwas opened the seminar on his essay: “Seeing Darkness, Hearing Silence: Augustine’s Account of Evil.”


“Philosophy’s Child: From Perplexity to Confession,” given at the Lumen Christi Institute at the University of Chicago, October 16th, 2004, for the conference, The Grace of Knowing, and then again (slightly revised) at Princeton University, October 21st, for the conference, A Legacy of Provocation: Augustine Reconsidered, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion.


Respondent, “Augustine on the Human Being and Christ,” for Reconsiderations: A Conference on Contemporary Augustinian Scholarship (on the occasion of the 2003 St. Augustine Lecture by Peter Brown), Villanova University (December 2003).


“The Shrewdness of Abraham: Violence and Sexual Difference in a Paradigm of Monotheistic Faith,” invited presentation for the Theology and Continental Philosophy Group, AAR, National Meeting in Atlanta (November 2003); Available as a PDF, Journal of Philosophy and Scripture (online), Volume 3.2 (Spring 2006)


“What if the Good were God? Platonic Reflections on Theism” lecture for students in the honors program at the University of Tulsa (November 2003).


“Augustine’s Mythology of Sin,” Cornell Summer Colloquium in Medieval Philosophy (June 2003)


“What Wittgenstein Left Out: The Question of Supernaturalism in Religion,”  invited lecture, Brown University, Department of Religious Studies (March 2003).


“Splendid Vices and Secular Virtues,” Weekly Seminar of the Fellows at the Center for the Study of Religion, Princeton University (February 2002).  I presented a revised version of this paper at a “lounge seminar” in Princeton’s Department of Religion (March 2002).


“Will and Interiority in Augustine,”  invited lecture, Mid-West Seminar in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, Marquette University (October of 2001).


The Theatre of Memory: A View to Augustine’s Postmodern Certainties,” The Power and the Glory: A Conference on the Legacy of Constantine at the Dawn of the Third Millennium, University of Exeter, School of Theology, Ancient History, and Classics (August 2000).


“The Problem of Evil in Hell: Dante’s Way Out”, Cornell Summer Colloquium in Medieval Philosophy (June 2000).


“The Question of Consuetudo Carnalis in Confessions 7.17.23”, International Patristics Conference, Oxford University (August 1999).


Response to Carl Vaught, “The Conversion of Time”, Kenneth Konyndyk Lecture, Central Division, American Philosophical Association (May 1999).


“Abelard’s New Heloise: An Anatomy Lesson”  Colgate University Humanities Colloquium (April 1995).


“The Marriage of True Minds: Philosophy, Chastity, and the Quest for God.” Philosophers’ Holiday: Vassar College (November 1993).


“Anselm’s Antinomy: On the Inconceivability of Forgiveness.” For the Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association (April 1993).


“Remembrance of Loves Lost: The Augustinian Problem of Time.” Delivered to the Department of Philosophy, Northern Arizona University (April 1993).


“Ironism without Irony,” Philosophy Colloquium, University of Notre Dame (April 1992).


“On Persuading the Hedonist to Wager: Pascal Revisited,” Philosophy of Religion Section, Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (November 1990).



Editorial Work


Series editor of Theory and Reflection in the Study of Religion, Oxford University Press/ AAR (2001-2006)


Texts accepted into the Series:


Joy Ann McDougall, Pilgrimage of Love: Moltmann on the Trinity and the Christian Life

Christian Moevs, The Metaphysics of Dante’s Comedy

John Wall, Moral Creativity: Paul Ricoeur and the Poetics of Possibility

Margaret Kamitsuka, The Importance of Difference to Feminist Theology

David Kim, Melancholic Freedom: Agency and the Spirit of Politics


Editorial Board


Augustinian Studies


Faculty Adviser: Journal of Philosophy and Scripture (on-line publication)

Journal of the American Academy of Religion (class of 2008)


Current Projects


An essay on Augustine’s account of language-learning in De Magistro, due to be part of  a volume called, Augustine and Philosophy, edited by Kim Paffenroth. The volume will come out in the series, Augustine in Conservation: Tradition and Innovation. The press is Lexington Books.


An essay on “Augustine’s Myth of Will” for the Blackwell Companion to Augustine, ed. Mark Vessey; an essay on “Memory ” for the Oxford Project on the Historical Reception of Augustine, ed. Karla Pollmann.


I continue to work on a longer book-length study, focused on the notion of confessional philosophy and whether such a notion might be worth supporting. The tentative title of this study: Perplexity’s Child: Wittgenstein, Augustine, and the Confession of Philosophy.


I am also under contract with Continuum to write a book on Augustine’s philosophy (Augustine: A Guide for the Perplexed).


Work as a Referee


NEH Grant for a Conference on Patristics and the Human Sciences

Journal of Religious Ethics

Journal of Religion

Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy

Religion and Critical Studies, A Series put out by Cambridge University Press

Cambridge University Press, Humanities Division

Oxford University Press

Stanford University Press

Fordham University Press

Catholic University of America Press

Philosophy and Rhetoric

Medieval Philosophy and Theology

Dialogue: Journal of the Canadian Society of Philosophers

Religious Studies: An International Journal in the Philosophy of Religion

Ford Foundation: Referee (March 2006 and 2007) for Diversity Predoctoral Fellowships


Fellowships and Awards


John Robinson Prize in Religion (1982)

Phi Beta Kappa (1982)

President’s Fellow, Columbia University (1982-86)

Best Graduate Student Paper, Mid-Atlantic AAR (1989)

Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellow (1987)

Alternative for ACLU Postdoctoral Grant (1991)

Postdoctoral Fellow at Center for Philosophy of Religion, Notre Dame (1991-92)

Phi Eta Sigma, Honorary (1997)

Affiliate Fellow and Eli Lilly Lecturer in Christian Thought and Practice at the Center for the Study of Religion, Princeton University (2001-2002)

First permanent holder of the Augustinian Chair at Villanova (2005-     )


University Work




Committee on Student Rights and Responsibilities (1989-91)

Coordinator of Religion Staff (1992-93)

Nominating Committee (1994-95)

Faculty Adviser to Creative Arts House (1994-96; 1998-99)

Steering Committee, Middle States Review (1996-98)

Coordinator of Philosophy Staff (1998-99)

Chair, Philosophy and Religion (2003-2005)

Advisory Board, Center for Freedom and Democracy (2004-2005)

Advisory Board, Medieval and Renaissance Studies (2004-2005)




Forgiveness Project (Spring 2006 -     )

Comprehensive Exam Committee (Spring 2006)

Graduate Studies Committee (Fall 2005 -    )

Hiring Committee (Search Committee for Continental Philosophy Hire, Fall 2005 and Fall 2006)

Diversity Committee (Chair of Subcommittee on Race Theory Initiative)

Advisory Committee, Philosophy and Theology Track in the Graduate Program (Fall 2005 -     )

Rank and Tenure Committee, Philosophy (Fall 2005 -     )

Rank and Tenure Committee, Humanities and Augustinian Traditions

Moderator, First Plenary Session, Living in Antiquity Conference (Oct. 2005)

Moderator, Conference on Augustine and Politics (February 2006)

Co-organizer, Fall 2006 conference, Religion and Postmodernism V: Athens and Jerusalem on the Polis

Sponsored Lecture: John Bowlin, “Augustine on Forbearance and Toleration”


Professional Memberships


American Academy of Religion

American Philosophical Association

North American Patristics Society

Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

Society for Values in Higher Education

Society for the Philosophy of Religion

Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy