Introducing The Crossroads, a New Column about the Quadrivium

Introducing The Crossroads, a New Column about the Quadrivium
By Greg Wilbur

With the resurgence of classical education, the disciplines of the trivium are commonly mentioned and discussed in articles, conferences, school literature, and curriculum. Less common, however, is discussion of the quadrivium and how it applies to education. Unfortunately, it has lagged behind despite the fact that together these seven disciplines make up the seven liberal arts that were intended to cultivate liberated or free people.

The word quadrivium literally means “the four ways” or the “meeting of four roads”—hence the name of this column: a meeting point for discussion of arithmetic, geometry, music (harmonia), and astronomy (cosmology) as liberal arts. We will seek to define disciplines, concepts, and terms, cover the history of the disciplines, and discuss resources and fascinating ideas. We will explore the quadrivium with the desire to inspire interest and interaction, cultivate understanding, and encourage practice.

From a Christian perspective, one reason to study the quadrivium concerns knowledge of the Most High God. Paul writes in Romans 1:20 that God has revealed himself through His creation. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” Arithmetic, geometry, harmonia, and cosmology help to explain concepts, relationships, and design in the created order thereby revealing aspects of the nature and character of God. More about that later.

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Gregory Wilbur is Chief Musician at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Franklin, TN, as well as Dean and Senior Fellow of New College Franklin. He is the author of Glory and Honor: The Music and Artistic Legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach and has released two CDs of his compositions of congregational psalms, hymns and service music.