Page 6, 1st May 1964

1st May 1964
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Page 6, 1st May 1964 — An important book on Mariology
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An important book on Mariology

MARY, ARCHETYPE OF THE CHURCH, by Otto Semmelroth. S.J. (Gill & Sons, 25s.)

THE THEOLOGY OF ST. PAUL, by D. E. H. Whiteley (Blackwell, 35s.) SENSE, NONSENSE AND CHRISTIANITY, by Hugo Meynell (Stagbooks. Sheed and Ward, 12s. 6d.) "T HE divine motherhood (of Mary) can be understood in the inner meaning that God intended for it only if we look upon Christ

as the whole Christ, and redemption as the unfolding of mankind into the Church."

These words from Fr. Semmelroth's newly translated Mary, Archetype of the Church may he taken as summarising his thesis.

Our Lady's role in the economy of our salvation, the mysteries of her life, have often been traced back to her divine motherhood as the principle of them all. Fr. Semmelroth is not satisfied with this.

He writes: "There can be no denial that Mary entered into the closest physical union through her motherhood. But the question remains as to why she was placed in this actual union with the Godman" (p. 54).

It is the divine intention, rather than the fact, that he is on the look out for all through the book, "the inner meaning that God i n tended".

And according to him the answer is that it is Mary's role as archetype of the Church that serves as the fundamental key which "sums up the inner meaning of Mariology itself and, at the same time forms the point by which it is rooted to theology as a whole".

That is why we must look upon Christ not simply as the individual man lie was (in relation to whom Mary's motherhood is established). but "as the whole Christ-, Christ in his members.

Mary is the archetype of the Church in three senses, namely as the manifest personification of the Church, as the archetypal source from which the image (the Church) grows by a real inner connection, and as providing therefore a moral example for the image. This is the basis upon which Fr. Semmelroth insists that she is truly a Mediator.

But a correct understanding of her mediatorship involves a proper appreciation of the way in which the Church, in Mary's image, is also a mediator, or Coredeemer with Christ. It is not that either Mary or the Chu ch is a second principle, alongside of Christ, that co-operates and co-merits as such —Christ alone is Mediator and source of grace, for Mary as for any other.

But the Church, and Mary as its archetype. co-operate in their redemption receptively. i.e. to the extent that redemption is the freely accepted "unfolding of mankind into the Church": for though this takes place only at the divine initiative in Christ, it should never be thought of as something purely passive. any more than any act of human freedom is passive simply because it finds its play only within the over-ruling divine will.

From

Mary is the archetype of mankind thus redeemed and coredeeming, of the Church filled with Christ's plerontu.

Fr. Semmelroth presents this thesis as an exercise in speculative theology, by intellectual analysis. But he shows that what he is saying is far from novel. is in fact simply the formal statement of the Scriptural and the earliest patristic understanding ,of the mystery of Mary.

There is much that theologians may wish to discuss hut his statement of his thesis is admirably thorough and cogent. Striking acknowledgment of this is made in the introduction to this translation written by a Protestant who confesses to having been stirred to questioning the Protestant "repudiation of traditional Mari ology", even though he says that he finds the hook at

0 n.c e "so symprisico and yet so alien. so heartening and yet so repelling".

The hook is indubitably a most important contribution to sound Mariology. CR.

gruDIES dealing with the theology of the New Testament, either as a whole, or in one of its readily recognisable large blocs of writings, have been appearing in great profusion in recent years. So much so that one begins to wonder when the inevitable reaction against this genre will set in among scripture scholars.

When it really was a new direction in biblical studies, some remarkable volumes were published which won a ready acceptance with the general Biblereader, astonishingly so when one considers the large number of text —and note—puckered pages which the average N.T. "theology" inevitably entails.

It is now, perhaps, rather late in the day to expect any repetition of such successes. For one thing, the sheer volume of writing in this field has grown too vast for the geniva, as opposed to the critical, study to he likely to emerge.

What one can still, however, legitimately hope for and welcome is the more sober volume which will keep the professional student of Scripture abreast with the latest developments and discussions in a particular area. Such is D. E. H. Whiteley's The Theo logj St. Paul.

Indeed. one of its main virtues is that it has the needs of the student so firmly and clearly in mind throughout.

'I he author clearly puts his own views on the authenticity of the Pauline writings in his introduction (he has reservations about Ephesians). where he also usefully cuts down to size the extravagant claims made by some recent cornputer-hased Pauline criticism, "since so much of the teaching found in the 'rejected' epistles is also substantiated in those that are genuine. R.T.

HUG() MEYNELL'S Sense, Nonsense and Christianity ought to he reviewed at length, but to do so would involve technical philosophy not proper to this column. It is that rarest of things (in this country), the work of someone informed about, and concerned with current philosophical criticism of the meaningfulness of theological statements, who is a•t the same time deeply concerned about his Catholic faith.

After opening chapters on Statements and Facts, and the Nature of Value-Statements which show the author to be thoroughly (114 courant with present day English philosophical writing, analysis is applied to the religious statements of both "traditional Christianity" and "some reductionist theologies" i.e. the systems of Kant, Sohleiermacher and Hegel where in fact theology has been supplanted by philosophy.

There follows a discussion of the metaphysical implications of traditional religion, and a discussion of certain religious concepts presenting special difficulties to the philosopher.

Perhaps a theologian may be forgiven if he says that he experiences something of the malaise that scientists are sometimes said to experience when philosophers discuss scientific piocedures — he does not always recognise himself in the role ascribed to him C R.




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