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Retrieval, Repair, and the Possibility of a Christian Humanism

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Retrieval, Repair, and the Possibility of a Christian Humanism

Hans Frei and George Lindbeck as Theologians

Joseph L. Mangina

It has become customary to associate the names of Hans Frei and George Lindbeck with the exercise of charity in theological discussion. It was Frei, after all, who coined the phrase “generous orthodoxy,” his shorthand for a theology poised somewhere between the liberalism of The Christian Century and the evangelicalism of Christianity Today.1 Anyone who knew these two men will testify to their kindness, their graciousness, and their insistence on the charitable reading of opponents. Especially in the highly polarized cultural and political climate of our own time, their warm Christian humanism stands out as a model to be emulated.

But we should also not fool ourselves: Frei and Lindbeck could at times be highly polemical. On the big issues confronting Christian theology in their day, they thought they were right—that their views were best poised to secure the faithfulness and liveliness of catholic tradition as it moved into the future. Whatever else “post”-liberalism may be, it surely involves the judgment that modernist Protestant theology got some important things wrong.

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The Mother, the Sinners, and the Cross

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The Mother, the Sinners, and the Cross

Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and Bach’s Tilge, Höchster1

Chiara Bertoglio

1. An electronic version of this article with live links to musical performances is available at the website of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology, www.e-ccet.org/feature-article.

1. Introduction

This paper analyzes the theological, spiritual, confessional, artistic, and cultural issues posed by Johann Sebastian Bach’s adaptation of Pergolesi’s setting of the Stabat Mater as a German Psalm paraphrase suitable for use in the Lutheran Church. These twin compositions actually represent four distinct and yet intertwining works: the Medieval Latin lyrics of the Stabat Mater, which obviously predated Pergolesi’s setting by several centuries; the musical features of Pergolesi’s masterpiece; the lyrics of Bach’s Tilge, Höchster, meine Sünden, taken from the Biblical Psalm 51 (50) but purposefully adapted to Pergolesi’s music, whose text they replaced; and Bach’s own musical interventions and changes to the score. Thus, this topic is as fascinating as it is difficult to treat in an organic fashion: indeed, so numerous and diverse are the factors at stake, that it is indispensable to treat them somewhat separately as introductory remarks, before delving into the theological analysis proper. One could even say that theological conclusions surface almost inevitably when the complete cultural and artistic frame is set.

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What Is Postliberal Theology? Was There a Yale School? Why Care?

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What Is Postliberal Theology? Was There a Yale School? Why Care?1

Michael Root

1. This essay was originally presented at a conference in honor of Archbishop J. A. DiNoia on Postliberalism and Thomism at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. I have preserved its originally oral style.

Four or five years ago, a student asked me whether I was a follower of postliberalism. I was a bit taken aback; it was a question I had not thought about in a good while. After some brief thought, I answered that I wasn’t sure because I wasn’t sure what postliberalism was or even if there actually was such a thing. This answer rather baffled the student. Shouldn’t I know? After all, I was, so to speak, there. I was a graduate student at Yale during the foundational years of postliberal theology in the 1970s; I followed the path of George Lindbeck into ecumenical work; and I published essays on theology and narrative theory in the 1980s. I may be a minor member of the Yale School, perhaps least among the apostles, but I too, like Saul, should be among the prophets.

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Being With George Lindbeck’s Being-With

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Being With George Lindbeck’s Being-With

Peter Ochs

A reminiscence. I have written much about George Lindbeck, of blessed memory, the postliberal scholar and theologian whose work has stimulated and informed much of my work on rabbinic pragmatism/semiotics, postliberal Abrahamic theologies, and Scriptural reasoning. But I write here about George the person in the thinker. Of this person, in the thinker, the image that comes first to mind is his stretching his hand out to be with someone. It makes me think of the biblical passage where Moses was in the ark in the reeds and Batyah, daughter of Pharaoh, sent her handmaid to fetch it: v’tishlach et-amata (Exod. 2:5). In Talmud Sota 12b, Rabbi Yehudah reads “et amah-ta” to mean that she stretched it (her hand, not her maid) a cubits-length to meet the baby. In Freema Gottlieb’s gentle words, the hand of God is seen, for example, in the way the hand of Batyah reached for the baby. This is then a typological image: reaching one’s hand to someone as a type, to fill in which someone is to specify an instance—in this case, I speak of the ones George was with. We might think, within the realm of academic-spiritual partnerships, a prototypical someone was Hans Frei, of blessed memory: George with Hans, intimately interrelated in their work, historian and theologian, ecclesiologist and hermeneut, the Jew-Christian and the Christian who extends his scholarly hand to be with Judaism. That being-with has been a powerful force in contemporary theology, for wherever we encounter their theology, I believe we encounter their relationality (with many others), and through their theo-relationality, we might also discover our own relationality with others and with God.

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The Jews and the Body of Christ

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The Jews and the Body of Christ

An Essay in Hope

Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap.

Beating with Less Than a Robust Heart

In their prophetic Declaration, Nostra Aetate, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council stated:

The Church of Christ acknowledges that in God’s plan of salvation the beginning of her faith and election is to be found in the patriarchs, Moses and the prophets. She professes that all Christ’s faithful, who as men of faith are sons of Abraham (cf. Gal. 3:7), are included in the same patriarch’s call and that the salvation of the Church is mystically prefigured in the exodus of God’s chosen people from the land of bondage.1

In this passage the Council Fathers suggested that the Church is still anticipating her full birth in Christ and—because of the origin of her faith, her initial election, and her prefigured identity in Israel—already beats with a Jewish heart. Because of this the Council professed that the Church cannot “forget that she draws nourishment from that good olive tree into which the wild olive branches of the Gentiles have been grafted (cf. Rom. 11:17–24).”2 Here the Council affirmed that God, in his loving mercy, has inextricably bound together, within the very truth and life of his revelation, Jews and Gentiles. To this day the life-giving ancestral blood of Abraham’s faith and the sacred Jewish tradition that sprang from his loins are still nurturing the Body of Christ. At the same time, this text from the Council implies that the Body of Christ lacks the vigorous heart that Jesus intended. Let me explain.

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