By MERIOL TREVOR, author of the standard life of Newman
NVEALL LEARN the Catholic Faith from Tradition, but perhaps we do not consider very carefully what that means. Since the Reformation Tradition and Scripture have often been separated, even contrasted, but now some Catholic theologians are making a new approach to the way in which the divine Revelation reaches us. It is no accident that the first crisis of the Council concerned the original schema on the Source(s) of Revelation.
Recent works by Congar, Karl Rahner, Geiselmann and others have appeared in English translations—and Newman's name is in them all. Mgr. H. F. Davis, in his introduction to Newman on Tradition (Bums Oates, 30s.), by Giinter Biemer, a young German theologian who studied under him in Birmingham after the war, says that people are getting used to hearing of every new theological insight, that Newman had said it all before. It is another sign that he was "a century ahead of his contemporaries."
Newman did not write a treatise on Tradition; treatises were not his line. A pioneer in the rediscovery of the Fathers, his teaching, like theirs, comes as much in sermons and controversial writings as in formal studies.
Thus, in order to set out his views, Giinter Biemer has combed his works, published and unpublished; the quotations range from 1826 to 1886 and include sermon notes and memoranda. Yet the book is not long, of admirable clarity, and neatly organised. In the first part Dr. Biemer outlines the position of classic Anglican theology; in the second he traces the development of Newman's views, and in the third he formulates the considered teaching. Newman was one of the first to relate history and dogma and subject of Tradition is closely connected with his theory of development of doctrine. In passing, Dr. Biemer shows how some criticisms of Newman's theory can be answered by his own later comments.