By Fr. J. D. CRICHTON A MANUAL OF DOGMATIC THEOLOGY, by Ad. Tanquerey and J. B. Hord, translated by Rt. Revd. Mgr. John J. Byrnes (Desclie Company. 2 vols., $9.75). TANQUEREY has been a household word in seminaries for about the last 50 years, and those who have been introduced to the study of theology through his text-book will be innumerable. His main work on dogmatics was in three volumes that went through a great number of editions. This was called a "Synopsis" and rightly so. Then, for the weaker brethren or for those in a hurry, he produced a Brevior Synopsis which no doubt has saved many a man in his examinations. It is this latter work that is here translated.
Tanquerey was a genuine scholar and apparently a good teacher, and his books enjoyed a great esteem. He was careful to keep them up to date and gave special attention to his bibliographies-one of the most useful features of his bigger volumes.
But the fact remains that substantially the work is 50 years old and betrays an outlook on theology that is passing. Here you have all the desiccation of revealed truth that is so rebarbative to the modern mind.
In particular, there is the snippet treatment of holy Scripture that is so different from what we now know as biblical theology, a subject urged upon the attention of those who teach theology by Pies XII.
Then one asks: for tvhom is this translation intended? Tanquerey's Latin is not very difficult, and if seminarists cannot read it one wonders how they manage to do their theology at all.
Nor is it likely that the intelligent laity will take to the book very easily. All the divisions and sub-divisions, all the definitions and the parade of the scholastic
method, these things provide considerable if not insurmountable obstacles to those unfamiliar with the ways of the "Schools".
Latin is easier
oNE would be a little reassured if the translation were adequate. Sometimes I have only been able to make sense of a passage by translating it back into Latin. This, for example, from the proofs for the existence of God: "Or we must arrive at a mover who acts through himself and who
is consequently through himself.
who is pure act and Ease or Existence itself."
Well, well. It would have been better to leave per se in its original glory as the translator does with quoad se elsewhere.
On page 86 of volume one, sacra dons is mysteriously translated "giving himself". I don't know why. And, of course, you get used to things like "dcific" which doesn't at all mean what VOU might expect it to.
AND why are Latin text-books quoted under English titles, yet French ones remain in their original language? If anyone thinks Billot wrote in English he is going to be disappointed, and if he looks for his works in a library he won't be able to find them.
It is not revealed from what edition this translation was made, but one finds no mention of Pius Xll's very important encyclical on the Sacred Heart. However, the dust cover indicates that the book has been revised by J. B. Bord, to whom presumably we owe the reserved and cautious statement about the destiny of unbaptized babies.
On the whole we do not think this translation is going to do much to lighten the burden of the harassed seminarist, and if he has any dollars-an improbable event -he had better spend them on something of more enduring merit.