To commemorate the 700 year anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, a Florentine poet, writer and philosopher, Biola University’s Torrey Honors College has partnered with Baylor Honors College to create “100 Days of Dante,” a collaborative experience of reading through all 100 cantos of Dante’s Divine Comedy. The enormous reading group — over 15,000 participants — are committed to reading through Dante’s trilogy, beginning in the fall of 2021 and finishing during Eastertide 2022.
To help readers along the way, each canto comes with a video commentary crafted by renowned faculty from across the country. Faculty from Biola’s Torrey Honors College are contributing 16 of the 100 videos. Dr. Fred Sanders, theologian and Torrey Honors College professor, encourages Dante readers to dwell on the majesty of God’s character as presented in the Comedy.
“Dante presents God in cosmic scope, with a strong sense of how the divine nature is related to the world. He emphasizes divine attributes like power, glory, wisdom, and justice,” said Sanders. “As a warm-hearted evangelical, I am much more at home pondering God personally, and emphasizing attributes like mercy, love and faithfulness. Of course, we don't have to choose: God is God! But Dante resolutely raises my attention to the perfections of the divine nature.”
The educators contributing to the project provide a commentary-based guide for readers that give a framework of the poem’s intrinsic impact on mankind. This worldwide reading group has begun its journey descending into the depths and experiencing God’s justice in Inferno, scaling the mountain and overcoming sin in Purgatory, and finally ascending into the stars to see the glory of God’s vast nature in Paradise. Dante’s Comedy is not a humorous one, but is comedic in the classic sense: it begins in a place of tragedy and ends joyously.
Over seven hundred years later, the Comedy has endured as one of the richest and impactful works in the Christian tradition.
The 100 Days of Dante project has made an impact on its readership. With numerous participants becoming involved, the initiative has captured the attention of multiple news outlets highlighting the 100-day project.
“There are Christian allegories and stories we have been given over time that make us think. Dante is one such voice who helps us to remember who we are,” wrote Patheos blogger Jared Ingle in his post, “The University Guides Us Through Dante’s Divine Comedy.”
Written by Jocelyn Huffman and Spenser Wagner.