309 Articles
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Scriptural Completion in the Infancy Gospel of James

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Scriptural Completion in the Infancy Gospel of James

Markus Bockmuehl

Every authoritative text—perhaps any significant text—involves its hearers and readers in a process of engagement that invites or even requires the filling of gaps or breaks in what is written.1

In communities committed to canons of Holy Scripture, this engagement may at times appear to outsiders as little more than rationalization—the exposition of a static document in the service of a concern for authorized meaning. Closer observation, however, tends instead to uncover a complex, historically self-renewing process of relating text to intertext; of nuancing the tensions and suspensions of law and poetry and prophecy differentially; of continually rereading multiple senses of the text in light of each other; of the interplay of memory, retrieval, and aggiornamento within an interpreter’s living community of praxis, study, and worship.

At the same time, this process sometimes gives rise to a further stage of engagement with authoritative texts, more liminal and yet in other respects more generative than the picture just described. The very genesis of the scriptural texts themselves bears witness to a dynamic process of reception, appreciation, and transmission. In so doing, the sacred page gives rise to new, epiphenomenal text that may either become an integral part of the emerging scriptural voice or alternatively attain an independent authority of its own as a metatext that nevertheless remains associated in some sense with the generative personality of a Moses or an Ezra, a Paul or a John. This process has long been of interest to students of inter-textual and inner-biblical interpretation, of reception history and effective history, in both the Jewish and Christian scriptures.

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Transfiguring Doubt: A Retrieval from Augustine’s Meta-Apologetic in De Trinitate

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Transfiguring Doubt: A Retrieval from Augustine’s Meta-Apologetic in De Trinitate

Clifton Stringer

Part I. Apologetic Contexts

1.1. Necessary Uncertainty?

In 2011, the late journalist Christopher Hitchens (1949–2011) debated John Haldane at Oxford on questions related to God, faith, and public policy. Hitchens began his opening statement by describing a curious fact about the death of American President Abraham Lincoln, as Lincoln expired in a room in Petersen House not far from Pennsylvania Avenue. Hitchens:

We still don’t know, when his cabinet gathered around him and saw him die . . . either [his cabinet member Stanton or Herndon] said, “Now he’s with the angels” or “Now he’s with the ages.” We still don’t know [which was said]. And there’s no reason why we shouldn’t. There were eyewitnesses, literate men, practically contemporaries of ours. They were in the age of print, in the age of photography, and yet nobody knows which thing Stanton or Herndon said.

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The Sacramentality of the Church in Dumitru Stăniloae’s Theology

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The Sacramentality of the Church in Dumitru Stăniloae’s Theology

Viorel Coman

The question of the Church’s sacramental nature has received significant attention in the bilateral and multilateral ecumenical dialogues over the last six decades. As Emmanuel Clapsis noted, the question itself was raised “because for some Christian churches and ecumenists (primarily Orthodox and Roman Catholic theologians) the Church is the sacrament of God’s presence in the world, while others (especially Protestant theologians) believe that while Christ is the sacrament of God’s grace in the world, the Church must not be called a sacrament. The Church is only a privileged instrument of God’s grace that leads to the unity in the Church of the whole world with Christ.”1 As was expected, the 1982 Munich document issued by the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church found therefore no difficulty in affirming the Church’s sacramental role: “The Church manifests what it is, the sacrament of the Trinitarian koinonia, the ‘dwelling of God with men’ (cf. Rev. 21:4).”2 When it comes to Protestant theologians, their reluctance to adopt the language of the sacramentality of the Church springs from their conviction that such an understanding of the ekklesia leads to triumphalism, obscures the distinction between Christ and the Church, and overlooks the sinfulness of those who make up the Church. In spite of that, a certain level of consensus on the theme of the Church’s sacramentality has been reached so far in the reports of the WCC Faith and Order Commission (Uppsala 1968; Accra 1974; Bangalore 1977; Chantilly 1985),3 as well as in the bilateral dialogues between the Roman Catholic Church and the Churches issued from the Reformation: “Towards a Common Understanding of the Church” § 94–113 (Reformed–Roman Catholic Dialogue, 1984–1990);4 “Church and Justification” § 118–134 (Lutheran–Roman Catholic Dialogue, 1993).5 The 2013 Faith and Order convergence text “The Church: Towards a Common Vision” § 25–27 constitutes another important example in this regard.6 However, the topic of the Church’s sacramental role needs further reflection, for it remains still an unresolved theological issue in the ecumenical discussions.

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Tilted in the Direction of Duns Scotus: Sonderegger’s “Formal Distinction” and the Theologia Crucis

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Tilted in the Direction of Duns Scotus: Sonderegger’s “Formal Distinction” and the Theologia Crucis

Paul R. Hinlicky

In the summer semester of 1921, the young and still unknown philosopher Martin Heidegger undertook the “deconstruction” of Augustine’s synthesis of Paul and Neo-Platonism. He wrote about the mishandling of Romans 1:20, where Paul seemingly asserted knowledge of the invisible God through His created works. This claim was “fundamental,” according to Heidegger, for the “orientation of Christian doctrine in Greek philosophy.” Romans 1:20 was grasped as a “confirmation of Platonism, taken from Paul.” The “Platonic ascent from the sensible world to the supersensible world” was consequently “structured into the basic patterns of Christian thought.” But, Heidegger continues, “this is a misunderstanding of the passage from Paul. Only Luther really understood this passage for the first time”—even though Luther too later “fell victim to the burden of tradition.”

Heidegger cites as evidence for his claim about the early Luther’s exposition of Romans 1:20 the latter’s (at the time recently rediscovered) Heidelberg Disputation, where, he says, Luther asserts that the one who “sees what is invisible of God in what has been created is no theologian.” Luther’s denial means that “the object of theology is not attained by way of metaphysical consideration of the world.”1 Whatever is so captured, as Heidegger would later put it, is “ontotheology,” deity idolatrously constructed as highest good of the appropriating creature who asserts self in the epistemic titanism of claiming knowledge of God.

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Scripture and Metaphysics: A Response to the Reviewers

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Scripture and Metaphysics: A Response to the Reviewers

Katherine Sonderegger

Esse Deum dare; God’s Being is to give: so Paul Hinlicky writes in his splendid review (and his own systematic volume), and this truth, we may thankfully say, is one of the “deep things of God.” The ever-rich Generosity of God is echoed, in a creaturely voice, by these reviews in front of me. They are gifts, lavish ones. I am deeply grateful to these reviewers for such incisive and generative comments on my first volume of Systematics; deeply grateful for their generous words of encouragement, of support, and of challenge. They read me so very well, in the strengths of the book and in the weak parts, too, the insights I have been given, but the unfinished analysis and exegeses as well. Always there is more to learn, more to understand in the Tradition, in the Doctors of the Church, and above all, in Holy Scripture; these reviewers help me see further. They represent the Church catholic—Lutheran, Anglican, Reformed, Roman Catholic—and in just this way live out with particular grace the hope of ecumenism in the world made by Faith and Order and the aggiornamento of Vatican II. I wrote this book for that Church, the One Universal Church, Holy and Apostolic, and I am deeply moved to have this first volume so generously received by living members of that catholic communion. Gratitude is the mark of a life, given and forgiven, Barth said; and I have received this gift, many times over, by these reviewers and their work. So I am eager to honor their work by responding to their comments and queries. I cannot hope to address all their points; these remarks are really just the beginning of a conversation on these central matters.

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