God is in Each Moment. Edward Schillebeeckx in Conversation with Huub Oosterhuis and Piet Hoogeveen. (T & T Clark £3.95).
Edward Schillebeeckx. Portrait of a Theologian by John Bowden. (SCM Press £4.95). God Among Us. The Gospel Proclaimed by Edward Schillebeeckx. (SCM Press £6.50).
THOSE WHO seek to understand Schillebeeckx and find his offerings on Jesus and Christ too formidable will be helped by these books, especially the first two.
Not that the first of them God is in Each Moment is particularly readable. It is a transcript of a series of interviews which touch every aspect of Schillebeeckx's life and thought.
It rewards perseverance, however, for it makes clear the development of his thought and the influences which have led him from a very traditional starting point to his present controversial views and attitudes.
John Bowden's portrait is much more readable. After a chapter on his life it takes the reader methodically through the major works. He has translated several of these works and knows Schillebeeckx personally, so that he is well qualified to do this.
The result has nothing superficial about it and a very clear picture emerges of a theologian who has been at the heart of many contemporary developments.
Schillebeeckx emerges as a man of formidable learning and astonishing energy who has devoted his life to the task of interpreting the Christian revelation to modern man.
The points of conflict with traditional Catholic teaching are not overlooked nor are they unduly dramatised.
In a final chapter of "Assessment" John Bowden is not uncritical and, while paying compliment to the magisterial learning of Schillebeeckx and his devotion to the truth as he sees it, Bowden points out some of the areas in which he appears to be vulnerable.
God Among Us is a collection of Schillebeeckx's sermons and lectures. They provide a series of short expositions of his thought arranged in a thematic order on freedom, confessing Jesus and spirituality. The collection goes well with John Bowden's book providing a sort
of commentary in Schillebeeckx's own words.
The range of Schillebeeckx's thought and the breadth of his reading make it difficult to comment briefly on the picture. which emerges from these three books without superficiality or impertinence.
A sympathetic reader will be impressed by this portrait of a man of outstanding intellect grappling with the problems of Christianity in the twentieth century.
He may well be left, however, with certain fundamental queries.
These concern the interpretation of the scriptures and the history of the early church about the security and permanence of scholarly conclusions (which in other disciplines are apt to be overthrown and can hardly be invulnerable here).
They also concern the true relationship between the theologians speculations and the office of the teaching church. about whether the attempt to interpret Christianity to the modern western mind is simply a question of words and about how far liberation theology can go without distorting some of the essential message of Christ and his Church.
If the reader does not find all the answers in these books, he will certainly be stimulated to search further for them.