Archive for January, 2012

In Paul’s day, Jewish zealous nationalism that focused on Israel’s internal purity was not the only temptation to violence. That nationalistic zeal was also directed outwardly toward an oppressive, violent regime–the imperial power of Rome. Paul would become a critic (at least an implicit one) of that form of violence, too–violence in the name of justice, peace, and security. Based on a misinterpretation of Rom 13:1-7, Paul is often portrayed as a political conservative who supported Rome, and perhaps all forms of political authority, even tyranny. However, like Jesus, he was a critic of imperial values such as domination and of imperial claims like divine status for emperors and divine blessing on the empire’s ambition. Paul mocked the Roman claim of providing pax et securitas (I Thes 5:3), offered an alternative form of divine justice, and proclaimed as Lord a criminal crucified by Roman power–rather than Roman power incarnate (the emperor). A politics of subversion, not intentional but as an inevitable consequence of the gospel, is central to Paul and to those who read his letters as Scripture. In that sense, Paul was a good, prophetic Jew. (19)

Michael J. Gorman, Reading Paul

El Greco, St. Paul (1606)

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Thomas, then, did not regard Aristotle primarily as a historical author, any more than he so regarded Augustine or Dionysius Areopagita. He considered them as witnesses for the truth which revealed itself through them, both to himself and, he hoped, to his reader (not only of the Summa theologica but also of the commentaries on Aristotle); truth whose validity is established out of itself and by virtue of its own objective arguments. “If the teacher answers a question with mere citations, nudis auctoritatibus, then the listener will depart empty-handed, auditor…vacuus abscedet.” Insofar as philosophizing is in question, a historical author is not of primary interest, even if his name is Aristotle; of primary interest is the truth of the matters at hand. (54)

Josef Pieper, Guide to Thomas Aquinas

truth [truːθ]
n., the quality of being true, genuine, actual, or factual

[Old English triewth; related to Old High German gitriuwida fidelity, Old Norse tryggr true]

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Catholic theology cannot establish itself as a de facto counter-magisterium, remaining in splendid isolation from the Church. Nor should it seek to win a lasting standing in the secular academy that offers it a career path like that of any other academic profession. Nor, finally, will Catholic theology flourish if it is transmuted into “religious studies” to market its remnant in a post-Christian society. Whatever one thinks about the best way to give coherent and even sophisticated shape to Catholic theology, we must acknowledge that the Church herself gives us our theological task: to assist the bishops in communicating, explaining, defending, and understanding the faith that comes from the apostles.

Reinhard Hütter, “The Ruins of Discontinuity”
First Things, January 2011

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, St Ambrose Addressing the Young St Augustine (ca.1747-50)

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