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Pro Ecclesia Vol 20-N4: 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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Symposium on William Cavanaugh’s The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict*

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Symposium on William Cavanaugh’s The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict *

Archbishop Rowan Williams, Charles Taylor, Cyril O’Regan, and Garrett Green, with a response by William Cavanaugh

The Myth of Religion: How to Think Christianly in a Secular World

Garrett Green

Garrett Green, Class of ’43 Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies, Connecticut College, 270 Mohegan Ave., New London, CT 06320-4196. E-mail: ggre@conncoll.edu

It is always a pleasure, though one rarer than it ought to be, to discover a book that actually makes a convincing case for its thesis. But occasionally one encounters something still rarer: a book that somehow manages to do more than the author set out to accomplish. I believe that William T. Cavanaugh’s Myth of Religious Violence is such a book, and I hope to demonstrate some of the implications of what might be called Cava-naugh’s über-thesis. The book’s stated purpose, in the author’s own words on the opening page, is to challenge the widespread “myth of religious violence,” which he defines as “the idea that religion is a transhistorical and transcultural feature of human life, essentially distinct from ‘secular’ features such as politics and economics, which has a peculiarly dangerous inclination to promote violence.” But Cavanaugh’s aim is not merely to debunk a popular misconception but also to unmask its underlying motives and unsavory political implications. “The secular nation-state,” he goes on to say, “then appears as natural, corresponding to a universal and timeless truth about the inherent dangers of religion.” The “myth” indicated in the book’s title thus not only misrepresents “religion” but also justifies the secular state, the major purveyor of violence in the modern age.

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What Happened on “the Night”? Judas, God, and the Importance of Liturgical Ambiguity

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What Happened on “the Night”? Judas, God, and the Importance of Liturgical Ambiguity

Brian K. Peterson

Since at least as far back as the third century, the Eucharistic liturgy has regularly included (usually within a Eucharistic prayer) a brief narrative of the last meal between Jesus and his disciples. The language used at that point has most often been shaped by the summary that the Apostle Paul provided in 1 Cor 11:23–25. There, Paul notes that he “handed over” (paredo¯ka) to the Corinthians what the Lord Jesus did and said on the night in which “he was being handed over” (paredideto). These two halves of verse 23 use the same verb, though in most English translations with two very different meanings: in the one case, a positive “handing on” of tradition; in the other case, the treacherous betrayal by Judas. It is the argument of this essay that insufficient attention has been paid in Bible translations and in recent liturgical practices, at least in English, to the inherent and theologically important ambiguity in the meaning of the verb paredideto in this verse as well as in the Gospel accounts. In doing so, our practice has failed to embody the theological depth of the New Testament’s reflection on what happened on that night, and of the church’s own theological claim that God is the primary actor in the death of Jesus. To adequately proclaim the Eucharistic truth, we ought to reclaim this ambiguity.

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On Truth and God: 1. Ipsa Veritas and Late Modernity

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On Truth and God: 1. Ipsa Veritas and Late Modernity

Robert W. Jenson

Early in the Summa Theologiae, Thomas Aquinas posed the question, Utrum Deus sit veritas, “Whether [or not] God is truth.” He responded with an analysis of truth’s ontological location—to which I shall return—from which he concluded “that not only is there truth in [God] but that he himself is supreme and primary truth itself.” Translated into more modern jargon: “God” and “truth itself” refer to the same reality despite being different descriptions—as do, for famous example, “Venus” and “the morning star.” One might define late modernity or, more fashionably, postmodernity as the period in Western history when Thomas’s question and answer will be met with blank expressions—or, in the case of some especially sheltered scientists, with shocked sputtering. “Whatever would ‘truth itself’ be? Anyway, just keep religion out of epistemology!”

One can diagnose late modernity’s conceptual handicap starting from either subject or predicate of Thomas’s conclusion. One can say late modernity cannot understand discourse about God because it rejects the notion of truth itself, because it will not believe that when one says “This is a true proposition” or “This is a true sphere” one is stating a fact. Since late modernity is thus alienated from truth itself, it must eventually lose also the One who is such truth. Or one can say late modernity cannot grasp the notion of truth itself because it does not trust in God. Both diagnoses are accurate, and do not quite make a circle. It is the second and simpler that I will here usually pursue.

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The Orthodox Rejection of Doctrinal Development

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The Orthodox Rejection of Doctrinal Development

Daniel J. Lattier

There is a widespread notion today that Eastern Orthodoxy rejects the idea of doctrinal development. This notion is a major thesis of Paul Valliere’s Modern Russian Theology—Bukharev, Soloviev, Bulgakov: Orthodox Theology in a New Key, where Valliere locates the difference between these thinkers and more recent Orthodox authors in the former’s acceptance of doctrinal development and the latter’s rejection of it.1 One finds objections to doctrinal development raised by such Orthodox authors as Georges Florovsky, Vladimir Lossky, Olivier Clément, Thomas Hopko, John Behr, and Andrew Louth. Most recently, Louth has provided an Orthodox evaluation of doctrinal development in an essay entitled “Is Development of Doctrine a Valid Category for Orthodox Theology?”2 Louth answers the question posed by his title in the negative and seems to imply that there exists an Orthodox consensus against doctrinal development.3 A key theme in his and other Orthodox authors’ objections to the idea is that doctrinal development is fundamentally opposed to the Orthodox understanding of Tradition.

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Pauline Gentiles Praying among Jews

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Pauline Gentiles Praying among Jews

Jon C. Olson

Paul was from an early time interpreted in diverse ways (Acts 21:21–26; Rom 3:8; 2 Pet 3:16). Magnus Zetterholm distinguishes between three current approaches to Paul: the traditional view exemplified by Luther, what James Dunn called “the New Perspective on Paul,” and what Zetterholm calls “the radical new perspective.”

The radical new perspective assumes Paul belonged to first-century Judaism—not that he left it. Within the radical new perspective, it is clear that Paul addressed non-Jews, rather than the whole of humanity, and that his major theological problem concerned non-Jews. While traditional scholarship and the new perspective often have argued that Paul created a new group, free from ethnic boundaries, radical new perspective scholars maintain that the Jesus movement remained within Judaism, with new ideas about the appropriate ways to identify and instruct the non-Jewish members.1

Paul was, of course, by his own testimony sent as apostle to the Gentiles (Gal 2:9; Rom 1:5). Yet, he was a Hebrew born of Hebrews, formerly a persecutor of the church, later himself persecuted because he did not circumcise Gentiles who turned to God through Jesus (Gal 5:11). Paul was once a Pharisee beyond reproach (Gal 1:13; Phil 3:3–6) and perhaps remained a Pharisee (cf. Acts 23:6), even if whatever he had gained he counted as loss for the sake of knowing Christ (Phil 3:7–8). The gospel he preached upheld the law (Rom 3:31).2 That Paul was repeatedly punished by Jewish authorities (2 Cor 11:24) proves that they considered Paul within the Jewish community and that he continued to associate with the Jewish community.

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How to Read James Kugel: Jews, Catholics, and the Bible after Skepticism

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How to Read James Kugel: Jews, Catholics, and the Bible after Skepticism

Edward T. Oakes, S.J.

No one disputes that historical criticism of the Bible represents a challenge for the systematic theologian, indeed for believers generally.1 If that fact were not already well established, one need only read the works of the renowned scholar of the Hebrew Bible, James Kugel, especially his latest book, How to Read the Bible.2 In this article I wish to address that challenge in three parts: in the first section I will recount (necessarily briefly) some of the key moments in Catholic historical scholarship of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, with particular attention to the “bookends” of my tale, John Henry Newman and Pope Pius XII; in the second section, I will look at Kugel’s argument in broad outline together with important Jewish voices of disagreement; then I shall offer, in the third section, my own proposed solution as a Catholic systematic theologian, primarily by relying on Hans Urs von Balthasar’s theology of the Old Testament, for he, best of all, in my opinion, explains how one can adopt a Christological interpretation of the Old Testament while still attending to the results of contemporary biblical scholarship.

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