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101. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Philip Rossi Editor’s Page
102. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Donatien-Alphonse-François de Sade, Steven Barbone Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man
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The Marquis de Sade’s complete “Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man” is here rendered in English. It is accompanied by both a brief biography of Sade and a short history. A few words of introduction and on the appropriateness of the dialogue for the undergraduate classroom precede the English translation.
103. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Alan Soble The Coherence of Love
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I examine three common beliefs about love: constancy, exclusivity, and the claim that love is a response to the properties of the beloved. Following a discussion of their relative consistency, I argue that neither the constancy nor the exclusivity of love are saved by the contrary belief, that love is not (entirely) a response to the properties of the beloved.
104. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Adrian Bardon Leibniz on the Epistemic Status of the Mysteries
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In this paper, I examine Leibniz’s account of the epistemic status of the Christian Mysteries in his “Preliminary Dissertation on the Conformity of Faith with Reason.” In it, the Mysteries are held to be true, yet also to be beyond human comprehension. This conjunction gives rise to a dilemma: how can the Mysteries bemeaningfully asserted if they are unintelligible? To answer this, Leibniz compares them to natural truths, which are demonstrable by God alone. To complicate matters, however, he suggests that certain Mysteries have the status of truths of logic, or of mathematics; this raises a special problem in understanding his view of the epistemic status of such Mysteries for us. I offer a suggestion as to how he may have wanted us to think of the relationship between these Mysteries and our faculty of comprehension. I then employ my conclusions in explaining Leibniz’s answer to Bayle’s skepticism regarding the Mysteries, as well as in explaining his answer to the question as to how belief in the Mysteries can be rationally justified.
105. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Frank Lucash Revelation in Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise
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I argue that Spinoza bases his observations regarding revelation on revelation alone, since he separates theology from philosophy. He does not use his philosophical theses to support theological beliefs, and he thinks that one’s philosophical position should not influence one’s views on revealed religion.
106. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Heidi Ravven, Lee Rice Guest Editor’s Page
107. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Nancy Levene Spinoza’s Bible: Concerning How It Is That “Scripture, insofar as it contains the word of God, has come down to us uncorrupted”
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My essay explores the connections between Spinoza’s theory of biblical interpretation and his conception of prophecy, linking the two through what he calls “moral certainty.” The question of what prophecy conveys is connected to the question of how to read Scripture because readers are in a similar position to both the prophets, who attain sure knowledge of some matter revealed by God, and the audience of prophecy, who have access to this knowledge only through faith. Like prophets, readers are interpreters of something that can not be known by way of reason alone; hence the effort to secure certainty involves factors other than purely rational ones (the history of the text, for readers; a vivid imagination, signs, and virtue for the prophet). But like the prophet’s audience, the knowledge of texts that we can attain is not always “sure,” since texts “transcend” us in a certain sense. That is, they introduce novelties---laws, customs, histories---that we wouldn’t know without reading them, and we therefore have to take their authors, prophets in this case, at their word-as it were, on faith. While most of the focus on Spinoza’s concept of biblical interpretation has centered on his maxim that “the method of interpreting Scripture is no different from the method of interpreting Nature,” I hold that it is just as crucial to investigate his claims concerning the nature of prophecy, and in particular to allow prophetic knowledge to shed light on Spinoza’s concepts of words, history, and the corruption and incorruptibility of texts.
108. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Lee C. Rice Meyer As Precursor to Spinoza on the Interpretation of Scripture
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Following a brief historical account of the relationship between the PSSI and the TTP (as well as their respective authors), I provide a summary of Meyer’s arguments (in the first two parts of the PSSI) for his claim that philosophy provides the unique norm of interpretation for Scripture. My third section is devoted to an analysis of the analytic relations between the PSSI and the TTP. A brief closing section offers several speculations on the clarifications which Meyer’s work may bring to Spinoza’s own development of a different account of scriptural exegesis in the TTP.
109. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Heidi M. Ravven The Garden of Eden: Spinoza’s Maimonidean Account of the Genealogy of Morals and the Origin of Society
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Spinoza uses the interpretation of Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden to mount a biblical defense of the life devoted to intellectual pursuits. In his philosophic rereading of the biblical story, Spinoza follows the lead of Maimonides in the Guide to the Perplexed Part I, chapter 2. Both philosophers invoked the biblical text to lend authority to the view that moral consciousness, in contrast with the intellectual, marks a decline in the human condition. This paper explores Spinoza’s dependence on the Maimonidean interpretation and also shows where Spinoza parts company with it, giving his own philosophical twist to the tale.
110. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Michael A. Rosenthal Spinoza’s Dogmas of the Universal Faith and the Problem of Religion
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I argue that in the seven “dogmas of the universal faith,” which are introduced in chapter XIV of the Theological-Political Treatise, Spinoza reinterprets the traditional view of a minimal credo required for salvation. The dogmas are dialectical propositions that are true insofar as they are practically useful. Instead of obtaining salvation for the soul, the dogmas aid in the preservation of the body, particularly through the regulation of religion within the state. I show that reading the dogmas in light of Spinoza’s method of interpreting Scripture is crucial to the understanding of their function in religion. In conclusion, I claim that the dogmas do not lead to the abolition of traditional religion, as some have claimed, but rather support the toleration of diverse religious practices.
111. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Andrew Tallon Editor’s Page
112. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Conrad T. Gromada How Would Karl Rahner Respond to “Dominus Iesus”?
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This short essay will attempt to show that although Karl Rahner would be in basic agreement with the concern of “Dominus Iesus” about “religious relativism” and in basic agreement with the claims of the Catholic Church (as expressed in Vatican II) about the role of Jesus as universal savior and about the unique role of the Roman Catholic church in God’s salvific plan for the world, he would not agree with the spirit or tone of this declaration from a Vatican Congregation. Rahner’s writings set a more positive tone framed by his classic retrieval of the concept of mystery in Roman Catholic theology that invites dialog with people of other religious traditions. Three characteristics of that invitational spirit of Rahner are highlighted in this essay: (1) the life-long process of becoming Christian; (2) the inadequacy of all human expressions in the face of mystery; (3) the need to be non-competitive in any ecumenical or inter-religious dialog.
113. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Robert Masson Introducing the Annual Rahner Papers
114. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Kevin Sharpe, Jonathan Walgate The Flow of Time: Scientific and Theological Perspectives
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Time flows. This oft-lamented fact of human existence seems plain enough, but is remarkably difficult to explain scientifically. Physical theory follows a greater goal—symmetry—and the directional nature of time is left adrift. The phenomenon must nevertheless be explained.Scientists since Isaac Newton have searched classical mechanics for answers, but precious little progress has been made on his mystical ideas. The discoveries of thermodynamics, though clearly relevant, have posed more problems than they have solved.Now a new solution presents itself through quantum mechanics. The intimate relation between thermodynamics and time is not in doubt, but now quantum theory is explaining how the laws of entropy arise from a stranger reality. The theory of decoherence begins to explain time as a holistic quantum concept.
115. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
David Coffey The Spirit of Christ as Entelechy
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This article pursues Rahner’s idea that the Holy Spirit has the role of “Spirit of Christ” even before the Incarnation, namely as “entelechy” directed to the Christ event. In the article, particular use is made of a biblical text hitherto not invoked in this connection, namely 1 Peter 1:11, from which a biblical base for this theology is developed. The article also investigates Teilhard de Chardin’s theory of evolution encompassing the world religions and Christianity, the absolute religion. The idea of the Spirit of Christ as entelechy is clarified and refined by application of the author’s construct of the “return” model of the Trinity, in which the Son does not just come forth from the Father, but returns to him in the power of the Spirit (see his newly published book, Deus Trinitas). Before, and in reparation for, the Son’s historical return to the Father, in Christ, the Spirit, precisely as entelechy, has to seek him in history, that is, through the creation and evolution of the cosmos, the arrival of humans, the consequent and new operation of the Spirit as grace, and the history of Israel culminating in the lives of Mary and, finally, Jesus, in whom this operation finds its final goal. Moreover, the role of the Spirit as entelechy complements and forms a unity with that of the same Spirit (again “Spirit of Christ”) as sent historically by the glorified Christ upon the Church, and continues even after the Incarnation, in leading to Christ (as “anonymous Christians”) men and women of goodwill, including those belonging to the world religions who have not yet had the gospel effectively preached to them. Finally, the paper notes that it covers some of the same ground as the Vatican Declaration Dominus Iesus, but in a different way, namely as instructed by the work of Teilhard and Rahner.
116. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
John D. Jones Poverty as Malum Simpliciter: A Reading of Aquinas’s Summa contra gentiles 3.133
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This article provides critical analysis of Aquinas’s designation of poverty as unqualifiedly evil. This paper provides an analysis of two different meanings of poverty: (a) in relation to things or to the external conditions in which people live and (b) in relation to an action in which people engage or are thwarted. Next, the paper discusses the sense in which poverty is an evil—and particularly, an unqualified evil—in relation to both of these meanings of poverty. Since Aquinas claims that poverty is an unqualified evil so far as it prevents people from attaining the ends of sustaining themselves and assisting others, the final section of the paper discusses possible interpretations of these ends, suggesting that each end can be taken in a narrow, minimalist or subsistence sense and a broader, more holistic or contextualized sense.
117. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Robert E. Wood Monasticism, Eternity, and the Heart: Hegel, Nietzsche, and Dostoevsky
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Hegel and Nietzsche stood opposed to the monastic tradition which they saw as based upon a denial of the intrinsic value of this life. Both sought to install eternity in this life and not seek for it in an afterlife. Central to both, and contrary to common caricatures of Hegel, is the notion of the heart, the aspect of total subjective participation, which is the locus of a fully concrete reason understood in Hegel’s sense. It is also central to Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov where the heart of Fr. Zosima, while yet rooted in the encompassing eternality of God, overcomes the contempt for the earth of Fr. Ferapont and leads Alyosha to embrace his vocation in the world. Hegel developed the fundamental categories that allows us to comprehend the situation.
118. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
M. E. Locker, C. Sedmak The Language-Game of Revelation: Interpreting the Book of Revelation through Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Language
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In recent studies it has been possible to apply new approaches in philosophy, especially of linguistic philosophy, to exegesis of the writings of the New Testament. Utilizing Wittgenstein’s model of language games, the following study of the meaning of the (apparently hidden) speech in the most difficult book of the NT, the “Book of Revelation,” reveals that the seer John does not speak of hidden events in the future but intends to point the addressee of his writing to a new Christian existence already in the present world. For baptized believers the symbols of his visions become signposts, on the basis of which they would understand and act in their present world. The final motif of Revelation, God’s gift of the “New Jerusalem,” is therefore not only a symbol of the fulfillment of the history of theworld, but in the first place a real description concerned with the present, perhaps even a prescription of conduct for the Christian communal life in a non-Christian world. This result is reached in consideration of (a) the pragmatic dimension of the language act that is emphasized in the language game, and (b) the rule-laden character of a game, in which is winning is intended. In this way, the author and content of Revelation is seen in a new, not previously considered way. In the end John does not only say what will happen, but also what has to happen, i.e., what Christians are to do—or not to do—in the world, in order to overcome it and to contribute to its transformation.
119. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Daniel Liderbach Can Theology Be Catholic and Roman?
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In the last five years the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has taken harsh steps against various theologians because of their interpretations of belief. Some theologians were censured; others, silenced; one, excommunicated. The question that emerges from that effort by Rome’s Holy Office to censure theology is whether theology can be universal, i.e., catholic, or whether it must reflect the interpretations of Rome’s Holy Office.
120. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Christina M. Gschwandtner Ricoeur’s Hermeneutic of God: A Symbol That Gives Rise to Thought
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This paper suggests that Ricoeur’s language about God can be read as a “symbol that gives rise to thought,” or even specifically as a symbol for “hope.” It examines the tensions found in Ricoeur’s hermeneutics in four layers of such symbolic language: First, the language of faith, for Ricoeur, is essentially circular, is poetic language, a language of manifestation and not of adequation. Second, the biblical discourse is composed of several kinds of languages, a polyphony of discourses that provide different (though individually always incomplete) paths toward God. Third, these discourses are characterized by limit-expressions that introduce extravagance and excess into God-language and open paths to new possibilities. Finally, Ricoeur’s theological language emphasizes paradox, perplexity, enigmas; it stays open toward any thinking about God that gives rise to new thoughts.