The Consolation of Philosophy

Suffering, Satisfaction, and Sovereignty

Study one of the most influential and important books in Christian history, written in the sixth century by a Roman civil servant named Boethius, awaiting execution for a crime he didn't commit.

Note: This course was originally presented LIVE in the Fall of 2022. It is now available as a self-paced course with feedback from a coach and key video clips from the live class times.
[Course image]
Since in this world inconstancy is sure, and rampant changes are the rule, then trust in fleeting goods, you fool!

[T]he highest God is totally full of the highest and perfect good...[and since]...the highest good is happiness...God is happiness itself.


While languishing in prison, with his life hanging in the balance, Boethius encouraged himself by writing an imagined conversation between himself and philosophy personified (rather like Lady Wisdom in the book of Proverbs). She teaches us that the way to endure suffering rightly is to know God, who is true happiness itself, and who governs the world perfectly, no matter how things look from our limited perspective.
Although this book can be daunting to read apart from expert guidance, its lessons are life-changing. We too need to learn to rejoice in the Lord in all circumstances, and trust his providence through suffering, and generations of Christians have found The Consolation a helpful guide to help them travel out of the valley of earthly problems to the heights of the knowledge of God for their joy in Christ.

Course Instructor


What are the "Reading with the Fathers" Courses?

The goal of these courses is to help students better understand and delight in Christ through Scriptural theology in the light of a careful reading of a historic Christian book.
  • “A careful reading” because we want to honor the author and his book and deal rightly with its contents (“love your neighbor as yourself”)
  • “Scriptural theology” because our main focus at Biblearc is on studying the Bible
  • “To better understand and delight in” because theology should not only inform the head but affect the heart and hands


  1. To help you understand Boethius's arguments and his overall main point
  2. So you can judge those arguments and main point in the light of Scripture
  3. So you will better know and delight in Christ through Scriptural theology


  1. Read the first step of the lesson (about 10 minutes of work).
  2. Read the assigned text from The Consolation of Philosophy (between two to three hours).
  3. Answer questions to help you dig into the meaning of the text and of Scripture and submit an assignment for feedback (about 20 minutes).
  4. Watch clips from the live class time for a discussion of the chapter (about half an hour).


Although this course seeks to follow what is taught in the Treasury course about reading extrabiblical literature, there are no prerequisites for taking it.


Through the Biblearc Books eReader, you will have free access to an 1902 translation by W. V. Cooper that is in the public domain. But we recommend that you purchase a modern translation which will be easier to read and contain more helps for understanding. The following example from Book 2, Chapter 5 demonstrates the difference in language style:
"Why then do you long for them with such railing against Fortune? You seek, I believe, to put want to flight by means of plenty. But you find that the opposite results." (Cooper). "What do you men long for so much when you make this outcry against Fortune? I imagine that you are trying to dispel want by acquiring an abundance. But the effect you achieve is the very opposite" (Walsh). "Now what do you men want from Fortune as you rail against her? You're looking for a way to ward off poverty, I suppose. But just the opposite happens to you" (Goins and Wyman).
The Consolation of Philosophy, translated by P.G. Walsh
This is the translation I'll be quoting from in the course. It also includes an introduction to Boethius's life and times, and includes summaries of each chapter and book, with copious helpful endnotes.

The Consolation of Philosophy, translated by Scott Goins and Barbara H. Wyman
This translation is also excellent, and perhaps a little easier to read than Walsh. Besides an introduction to Boethius and copious footnotes, they include several essays, which are worth the price of the volume, especially those by Lehman, Markos, and Orrick.

To access the free translation by Cooper, follow these steps:
  1. Follow the instructions given.
  2. The book will appear in your library. You can read, highlight, and copy and paste text.