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The eminent theologian, Aidan Nichols, OP, plunges into the depths of the great nineteenth-century Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. Nichols's profound insights into the theological meanings of Hopkins's poems exhibit the truth of beauty and the beauty of truth.
Mary continues to be a source of theological interest and concern for Catholics and Protestants alike. For Catholics, Mariology was codified in a set of dogmas over the centuries; yet many Catholics remain unaware of the biblical, historical, and theological matrix that gave rise to the magisterial teaching. Protestants, with some exceptions, remain skeptical of Marianism in Catholic theology, viewing such as intrusions upon biblical doctrine and faith or unnecessary accretions threatening of sound Christian theology. Aidan Nichols, OP, attempts to address this puzzlement of Mary. Working through the biblical, patristic, and medieval sources, Nichols introduces readers to the robust scriptural and theological bases for the Church's celebration of Mary in its doctrine and liturgy, alongside the work of the Councils and the magisterium, to argue for the crucial relevance of Mary in the theological articulation of the gospel, the celebration and practice of the liturgy, and the sacramental life of the Church.
In Engaging Theologians, Aidan Nichols explores the work of a number of major writers who have inspired him at different points over the last forty years. They are theologians who engage with a wide range of doctrinal topics and do so in a way that is both robust and persuasive, which makes them, he believes, engaging in a rather different sense of that word. Each chapter begins with a short autobiographical preface, explaining why each writer (or pair of writers) was chosen. The selection reflects the ecumenical breadth of the authors life. While his family were Anglicans, his conversion to a consciously held dogmatic Christianity came via Eastern Orthodoxy, but was lived out in a Catholic setting, in the United Kingdom or beyond. Hence there are chapters on the Anglo-Catholic systematician Eric Mascall and the Orthodox spiritual theologian Olivier Clement as well as on a trio of Jesuits Jean Danielou, Henri de Lubac, and Avery Dulles, the first two of whom are giants of the movement of ressourcement common to all three Christian traditions (Rome, Canterbury, Constantinople) as this is. Aidan Nichols considers that Hans Urs von Balthasar (here studied in his dialogue with Martin Heidegger) has accompanied him throughout his theological studies and writing, as indeed has Thomas Aquinas, whose school is represented by the English Dominican Victor White and the Neo-Thomist master Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange.
Based on diaries and his published works, Nichols presents an account of Adrian Fortescue's developing personality with an interpretative overview of his writing. Beginning with Fortescue's family background, it looks at his reactions to clerical training, and the wider scene, in Rome and Austria-Hungry at the end of the nineteenth century and the attempts of a widely read and imaginative man to adjust to the limits of priestly life in the East End of London, and the home counties in the Edwardian epoch.
This is the first comprehensive study of the theological significance of Paul Claudel, a poet frequently cited by literary-minded theologians in Europe and theologically-minded poets (such as von Balthasar, de Lubac and Eliot). His writing combines cosmology and history, Bible and metaphysics, liturgy and the drama of human personality. His work, which continues to arouse discussion in France, was acclaimed in his lifetime as the 'summa poetica' of a new Dante. Aidan Nichols' study demonstrates how Claudel's oeuvre, which is not only poetry but theatre and prose including biblical commentaries, constitutes a rich resource for constructive doctrine, liturgical preaching, and theological reflection. As the comparable example of Geoffrey Hill, Professor of Poetry at Oxford suggests, Aidan Nichols illuminates how Claudel's synthesis of many dimensions remains an important way of practising poetry in the Christian tradition today.
The author at the centre of this study, Russian priest-theologian Nikolai Nikolaevich Afanas'ev, was perhaps the most influential thinker about the Church Russia has produced. In Aidan Nichols's careful evaluation, he emerges as a key figure in the rapprochement of Christian East and West, and most notably of the Orthodox and Catholic churches. Nichols illustrates how Afanas'ev has been influential in two key respects: first of all in his conviction that the Eucharist constitutes the foundation of the whole Church; and secondly in his contribution to an Orthodox understanding of the role of the Roman Church and bishop in the context of a united Church. Afanas'ev's achievements are seen to have continuing relevance in view of the inauguration of the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue at the monastery of St John on Patmos in 1980, and the importance of his thinking in terms of contemporary ecumenism becomes clear. It is to such a reappraisal that this book - concerned as it is with how Russian orthodoxy understands the Church - is devoted, in the hope of an eventual restoration of unity between the Orthodox of all the Russias and the see of Rome.
Aidan Nichols' timely book is the first full-scale investigation of Joseph Ratzinger's theology in its development from the 1950s to the present day. It presents a chronological account of the development of Ratzinger's writing which reflects a wide range of historical and theoretical interests such as: Augustine's ecclesiology; early Franciscanism and the idea of salvation history; Christian brotherhood; the unfolding of the Second Vatican Council; commenting on the Apostles' Creed; explorations of the concept of the Church; preaching, liturgy and Church music; eschatology; the foundations of dogmatic and moral theology; the Church and politics; ecumenism, and the problem of pluralism. This book is a comprehensive introduction to a figure who is in his own right, quite apart from his significance in the politics of the Church, a major German Catholic theologian of the twentieth century. This new edition provides an amplification of the existing chapters by reference to books and articles produced by Joseph Ratzinger between 1986/1987 and his election as Pope in 2005. This is especially important in the area of the Liturgy, where his 1999 study The Spirit of the Liturgy takes further his critique of contemporary Western Catholic worship and his call for a new liturgical movement which would aim to 'reform the Reform'. Nichols also includes two wholly new chapters devoted to Ratzinger's writings on Judaism, Islam and other religions, as well as secularization and the future of Europe.
Hans Urs von Balthasar is emerging as a colossus of twentieth-century theology. More and more of his works are being translated. But as yet he is mainly known only through his great multi-volume trilogy 'Glory', 'Theo-Drama' and Theo-Logic'.Aidan Nichols has treated each part of the trilogy and theearly worksin his widely acclaimed 'Introduction to Hans Urs von Balthasar'.In this final volume he explores all von Balthasar'slater works. Many of these works are extremely important, although several are as yet untranslated and several as yet almost unknown. Nichols ranges widely and comprehensively, from journal articles to his major works, such as 'Apokalypse der deutschen Seele', to his final short works. The result is a wholly new perspective on von Balthasar, a contextualising of his trilogy and an illumination of his whole life and work.
This book investigates Balthasar's early explorations of music and the other arts, before launching into a ramifying but controlled survey of his - often highly original - interpretations of major philosophers and literary figures in the European tradition from the early modern period until the 1930s. Balthasar seeks not only to discover elements of truth, goodness and beauty generally in a rich range of figures, where especial attention is given to the classical German philosophers (Fichte, Schelling, Hegel) and Nietzsche, as well as to dramatists and novelists (notably Goethe, Schiller and Dostoevsky), as well as to intellectual giants of his own century, such as Bergson, Scheler and Barth. He also intends to prove that writers who had lost a living contact with the biblical revelation carried by Christianity were incapable of reconstituting a synthesis of ideas about the goal of man and the universe which could be taken for granted in the high Medieval epoch. At the same time, the modern writers he investigates add, in his view, crucial enhancements of human understanding - particularly in relation to history and the human subject - which must be factored into any new overall vision of the future of the human soul and indeed the human species in its cosmic environment.
This study is an introduction to Catholic theology designed both for the theological student and for the general reader willing to make a certain effort. After introducing the idea of theology adn the virtues desirable in the budding theologian, the bulk of the book falls intro the five sections: (1) the tole of philosophy in theology; (2) the use of the Bible in theology; (3) the resources of tradition, liturgy and sacred art; Fathers, Councils and Creeds; the sense of the faithful; (4) two 'aids to discernment in short history of Catholic theology from the New Testament to the present day. The conclusion considers the features of pluralism and unity which should typify Catholic theology as a whole and suggests how unity may avoid becoming uniformity without pluralism becoming anarchy.
Theo-Drama builds upon the earlier achievement of The Glory of the Lord and transcends it, opening up new horizons for theological and cultural reflection in the 21st century.'
At a time if division and crisis in the Church of England, its identity and mission have come into question as never before. Its own members, but also the wider community of Christians in both East and West, need to understand its history and the reasons for its present crisis, as well as the distinctive contribution it can make to the Great Church of the future. Aidan Nichols provides a clear summary and analysis of the history of the Church of England by way of a sensitive appraisal of its rich theological tradition. This also gives the reader a firm grasp of the context of the issues currently being discussed by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. Aidan Nichols, O.P. is a member of the Dominican community at Blackfriars, Cambridge. He is the author is Rome and the Eastern Churches, The Shape of Catholic Theology and many other books.
One of the greatest Catholic minds of the twentieth century was a journalist, a playwright, a novelist, a literary critic, a poet, a cartoonist, an essayist, a broadcaster, and even president of the Detection Club. But he was also a theologian. G. K. Chesterton, famous for defending Christian belief in his books Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man (the latter helped to convert C.S. Lewis) could not help thinking theologically - even when he was making jokes - and his writings illuminate the profoundest religious themes. In his hands, Christian truth is rescued from becoming a purely academic exercise. He gives us an 'experience of the fullness and many-sidedness of the truth, in which the Christian can romp without a care' (Balthasar). In fact, like Lewis, Chesterton, who was one of the great converts of the twentieth century, draws us directly into an encounter with the Word of God, showing us the faith of the Church as most of us have never seen it before: 'a new continent full of strange flowers and fantastic animals, which is at once wild and hospitable.' No wonder Pope Benedict XVI told us that 'in every age the path to faith can take its bearings by converts'. Essential reading for anyone who already loves Chesterton, the book is also and more importantly a new kind of introduction to theology. It throws fresh light on the oldest of questions: the existence of God, the nature of man and the Church, the meaning of Christ, and the call to holiness. This is the 'wake-up call' that many intelligent Catholics have been waiting to hear.