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Pro Ecclesia Vol 17-N1: A Journal of Catholic and Evangelical Theology

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Pro Ecclesia is a quarterly journal of theology published by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. It seeks to give contemporary expression to the one apostolic faith and its classic traditions, working for and manifesting the church's unity by research, theological construction, and free exchange of opinion. Members of its advisory council represent communities committed to the authority of Holy Scripture, ecumenical dogmatic teaching and the structural continuity of the church, and are themselves dedicated to maintaining and invigorating these commitments. The journal publishes biblical, liturgical, historical and doctrinal articles that promote or illumine its purposes.

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COMMENTARY

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Christopher Wells

The recent ecclesiological document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the principal teaching arm of the Roman Catholic “magisterium,” says nothing about the nature of the church and the churches, nor about the Catholic approach to ecumenism, that has not been said repeatedly before in various documents since the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). In particular, this new text, descriptively if cumbersomely entitled Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church, essentially presents a simplified version, in question and answer format, of the CDF’s interesting and influential 1992 text, Some Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion.

That it is not especially new does not mean, however, that Catholics and others cannot learn from the document, which rewards study and may usefully be set alongside other interecclesial texts, particularly those that in recent years have focused on the nature of the church as “communion.”

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HIDDEN FROM THE WISE, REVEALED TO INFANTS: STANLEY HAUERWAS’S COMMENTARY ON MATTHEW

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Joseph L. Mangina

The appearance of each new volume in the Brazos Theological Commentary series poses afresh the question, “What is a theological commentary?” We should be grateful that the series does not try to answer this question in advance. As R. R. Reno remarks in his preface, the Brazos volumes are not an attempt to establish a new interpretive paradigm against the historical-critical one. Rather, the books are more like hermeneutical therapy, a recovery program for a church that has forgotten the skills it needs to interpret Scripture. As such the entire project has a somewhat experimental quality, as each author develops his or her own approach to theological interpretation.

We now have Stanley Hauerwas’s commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. Given Hauerwas’s stature as one of the most influential (and prolific) authors in the English-speaking theological world, we inevitably bring certain expectations to our reading of this volume. We expect to hear some things about politics, discipleship, sanctification, and the virtues. We somehow expect the church to play a central role. These expectations are not disappointed. In becoming a commentator on Scripture Hauerwas has not abandoned his central theological convictions. But this is far from being an exercise in eisegesis. The book represents a serious wrestling with Matthew’s story of Jesus.

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RUMINATIVE OVERLAY: MATTHEW’S HAUERWAS

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Markus Bockmuehl

Stanley Hauerwas has achieved a remarkable feat: from a virtually cold start he has launched forth into a vibrant commentary on one of the longest and most influential of New Testament books.1

This is the third volume in the much-trumpeted new Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, initiated and overseen by an editorial team led by R. R. Reno of Creighton University. Interestingly, none of the eight dust jacket blurbs concern the volume now in hand, but all extol either the series in general or the first volume on Acts.2

And what we get is certainly no damp squib or tentatively pussyfooting experimentation, but a vigorous tour de force in fine Hauerwasian mettle. The commentator is predictably excellent in affirming the integration of the interpreter as both reading and read by the text, presumed to be called to faith within the peaceable kingdom that is Christ’s. Hauerwas memorably stresses the gospel call to discipleship, mercy, and holiness within the “community of the forgiven,” “the kingdom of repentance.” Indeed, the great mission of disciple-making which Jesus entrusts to the apostles is here characterized by a full-circle return to Jesus’s own opening proclamation: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is present” (249, the closing words of the commentary).

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MATTHEW OR STANLEY? PICK ONE

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Luke Timothy Johnson

Perhaps the worst among the many sins committed by modern critical scholarship on the Bible is to have so eliminated a concern for theology as to encourage the emergence of a species of theological commentary on the Bible that eliminates any concern for critical scholarship.

That contemporary biblical commentaries—with very few exceptions—lack anything recognizable as theological sensibility is not difficult to demonstrate. The significance of the biblical text regularly gets buried beneath a mound of linguistic, literary, and historical information while the excavation of meaning is meager and rare. It is also not difficult to appreciate the impulse that gave rise to the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible: if those identifying themselves as “historical-critical scholars” provide nothing but historical information, then surely we must turn to those calling themselves “theologians” to gain insight into Scripture’s deepest meaning.

As of this writing, the series is in its infancy. But on the basis of my reading of Jaroslav Pelikan’s volume on Acts and Stanley Hauerwas’s volume on Matthew, I fear that the theologians may turn out to be no less guilty than the historians of making the living voice of Scripture disappear beneath their own preoccupations. Pelikan, without peer as a historian of theology and notable as a Lutheran theologian who had embraced Orthodoxy, wrote a commentary that used the Acts narrative mainly as a framework for a series of essays on “theological topics,” and paid no attention to Luke’s own theological voice.

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PRINCIPLES OF EXEGESIS: TOWARD A PARTICIPATORY BIBLICAL EXEGESIS

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Matthew Levering

Much has been said about theological biblical exegesis, but how to make such proposals practicable?1 Theological exegesis appears to lack a significant place in the biblical guild in part because, unlike historical-critical exegesis, it lacks a set of core principles that can be effectively implemented in the training of doctoral students and in the direction of research. In this light, recent efforts to advance principles of exegesis are particularly promising because of their concrete and constructive character. The first section of this article will set forth two recent proposals for principles of exegesis: Gerald O’Collins and Daniel Kendall’s The Bible for Theology: Ten Principles for the Theological Use of Scripture and the Princeton Scripture Project’s The Art of Reading Scripture. In light of the strengths and weaknesses of these two approaches, the second section of the article presents the contribution of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, whose value for renewing theological exegesis has been somewhat overlooked.2 I conclude by offering my own set of principles for a “participatory biblical exegesis,” in hopes of outlining a practicable program that takes up the strengths of the other approaches.

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SUB TUUM PRAESIDIUM: THE THEOTOKOS IN CHRISTIAN LIFE AND WORSHIP BEFORE EPHESUS

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Maxwell E. Johnson

Thanks, in large part, to Joseph Jungmann’s classic essay, “The Defeat of Teutonic Arianism and the Revolution in Religious Culture in the Early Middle Ages,” it has become common to treat the question of the Theotokos as only a Christological-doctrinal issue with little or no attention to its wider context or possible prehistory.2 A summary statement by Elizabeth Johnson in her recent study, Truly Our Sister: A Theology of Mary in the Communion of Saints, well illustrates this point:

[T]he school of Alexandria argued for a stronger, ontological form of union in which the divine Son of God personally united himself to human nature. While safeguarding the unity of natures in the person of Christ, this notion tended to dilute his humanity, seeing it as somehow mixed with or swallowed up by transcendent divinity. In this school, the passionately preferred title for Mary was Theotokos, or God-bearer, meaning that she was the mother of the one who is personally the Word of God. Although the essence of the controversy was Christological, the Marian title itself bore the brunt of the dispute. When the Council of Ephesus in 431 opted for the title Theotokos, it spread like wildfire, keeping its original form in the East and being transmuted into the more colloquial “Mother of God” in the West. According to most scholars, the impetus from this council allowed the development of the Marian cult to go public in the church. Although discourse about Mary had been in play to express Christological truths, it opened up the later trajectory where attention was focused on Mary herself.3

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LUTHER ON THE RECEPTION IN GOD’S HOLINESS

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John W. Kleinig

The theology of the Lutheran Church has been shaped by Luther’s teaching on justification by faith. The language of justification is derived analogically from the operation of the royal courts and their administration of justice. In this way of thinking, God is envisaged as a king, who deals with evildoers in his kingdom by the exercise of justice or of mercy. This judicial metaphor sets the basic framework for classical Lutheran theology. All aspects of the faith are related to it and seen in its light.

Since this is so, Lutherans can at times fail to do full justice to other modes of expression in the Scriptures. The language of holiness, so central to Roman Catholic and Orthodox theology, is an example of this. Classical Lutheran theology tends to limit its teaching on sanctification to the life of moral renewal and good works that follows from justification, even though Lutheran worship and pastoral practice hint at a broader conception than this.1 By this limitation, the Lutheran dogmatic tradition can all too easily dissociate holiness from its proper liturgical context and give it a social setting that obscures some of its distinctive features.

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JONATHAN EDWARDS ON JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH—MORE PROTESTANT OR CATHOLIC?

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Gerald R. McDermott

Evangelicals often consider Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) to be “their” theologian, the one thinker in the history of Christian thought who probably “got it right.”1 Or, if he didn’t properly interpret every last jot and tittle, at least he would support their most important theological positions; most certainly their take on justification, which has been said since Luther to be articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae. As one friend recently wrote me, Edwards must never have accepted the concept of “infused” righteousness because that would have identified Edwards with Thomistic/Catholic/ Arminian synergism, which teaches justification partly by grace and partly by works of the human will. For similar reasons, Tryon Edwards, a descendant and nineteenth-century editor, deleted the word “infusion” fourteen times from his edition of Charity and Its Fruits. For Tryon Edwards and my friend, Edwards could not have supported infusion because Edwards was an astute theologian in the Reformation tradition, which has tended to regard justification and infusion as mutually exclusive.2 Hence, Edwards must also have regarded them as mutually exclusive.

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REVIEW ESSAY

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Adam A. J. DeVille

Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy

Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue: Unitatis Redintegratio, Nostra Aetate (New York: Paulist, 2005), 293 pp.

Walter Cardinal Kasper

That They May All Be One: The Call to Unity (London: Burns & Oates, 2005), 202 pp.

Walter Cardinal Kasper, ed.

The Petrine Ministry: Catholics and Orthodox in Dialogue (Westminster, MD: Newman, 2005), 257 pp.

Reviewed by Adam A. J. DeVille, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, Indiana

The job of heading up the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) is arguably the most difficult Roman appointment after that of the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Nonetheless, the present incumbent, the German theologian Walter Cardinal Kasper, together with his immediate predecessor, the Australian canonist Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy, have both distinguished themselves by their irenic and amicable dealings with other Christians, and also by the quality of their theological vision and scholarly acumen, amply on display in these three books, which deserve a wide and careful readership.

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