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The Theology of History: A Conference at Marquette University (April 25-27, 2024)

“The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand.” The very first words of Jesus in St Mark’s Gospel make a proclamation concerning time and therefore history. The Church has come to understand that in the Incarnation of the timeless one into time, the eternal into history, time itself has now entered its own fullness. But what does this mean for our life in time, in history? How are Christians to think of history theologically? A conference organized by Marcus Plested at Marquette University (April 25-27, 2024) explored these questions from a wide variety of angles: patristic, Byzantine, medieval, and modern. The keynote address was delivered by Ephraim Radner (University of Toronto), and the discussion unfolded over three days, with more than twenty-five papers from both senior and junior scholars from North America and Europe.

The conference was co-sponsored by Marquette University’s Department of Theology, the Center for the Advancement of the Humanities, and Way-Klingler Fellowship in the Humanities, with support from the Pappas Patristic Institute.


Ephraim Radner, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto

Novum et Veterum:  Scripture’s Non-progressive Theology of History.

This talk is framed by an engagement with N. T. Wright's attempt to weld historical studies with the reality of the evangelical novum of the resurrection, an attempt that is stymied by the challenge of theodicy.  In response, I will reflect on whether the category of "temporality" that is central to the notion of history needs to be reconsidered in light of the scriptural witness of God's comprehensive ordering of experienced events.


Cyril O’Regan (University of Notre Dame)

Apocalyptic Subversion of Christian Tradition: Figuration and Historiographic Axiom

The aim of this paper is to examine widely different forms of theology in which not only does figuration of Christianity as constituted by an original event put pressure on the theological traditions that developed subsequently, but which are attended by historiographical axioms that seem to rule out in principle that ‘revelation’ could ever be institutionalized or normalized. I would like to discuss three examples, two of which configure theology after the model of Pauline apocalyptic, one after the book of Revelation. First,I speak to the way the early Heidegger adopts Paul’s apocalyptic as the vital measure of Christianity and an initial scoping of authentic human existence only to generalize it as a fundamental principle of what is authentic history or happening only for this principle or axiom to be reimported back into Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox theologies as a principle by which to scour the Augean Stables of what is dead in the theological tradition. Second, I consider a group of Protestant theologians (including Douglas Harink, Nathan Kerr and others) who, if they recall both Barth and Yoder to different extents, rely heavily on the groundbreaking exegetical work of Louis G. Martin on Pauline apocalyptic. Nevertheless, in the case of this group Pauline figuration of ‘original Christian’ is supplemented by the messianic axiom of Benjamin that seems to suggest the subversion of the very possibility of a reliable tradition, rather than simply the generation of an argument against a particular theological tradition in fact. Third, I will briefly treat D. B. Hart’s Tradition and Apocalypse and inquire whether in addition to the standard pressure that an apocalyptic interpretation of Christianity (Johannine inflection) applies to the validity of the subsequent theological tradition that it might be supposed to measure, whether Hart articulates metahistorical principles that exceed his brief and in fact rule again the possibility of a reliable theological tradition.


Kevin Hughes, Villanova University

Typology, Spiritual Exegesis, and the Theology of History: a Fault-line in Ressourcement Theology.

The public, but polite, dispute between the two close friends and collaborators Jean Daniélou and Henri de Lubac in the late 1940s over the proper sense of patristic scriptural exegesis is well known.  Daniélou preferred to use the term “typology,” because it placed in the foreground the relationship between “type” and “antitype,” between figure and fulfillment, between old covenant and new.  Daniélou worried that, even in the hands of an acknowledged master like Origen, “allegorical” readings such as were common in Alexandrian Christianity lent themselves to an interior, individual, spiritual interpretation that risked losing its vital connection to the “letter” of scripture.  De Lubac, in his turn, defended the classical Christian usage of the term “allegory” and, in particular, defended Origen quite strongly. Most scholars agree that neither Daniélou nor de Lubac played with caricatures, and, in the end, the differences between them were small, but not insignificant.  So what fueled this very public dispute? This paper hypothesizes that there is a relationship between the argument over “typology and allegory” and each figure’s concerns in the theology of history. In a manner parallel (and related) to the small but important difference between de Lubac’s allegory and Daniélou’s typology, the theologies of history of the two figures differ in small but important ways. Henri de Lubac spent his last years deepening his genealogical critique of Joachim of Fiore, expressing profound concern for any hint of what others called an “immanentized eschaton,” worrying particularly about a spiritual exegesis that predicted any future historical state. Daniélou, in turn, wrote several books addressing the theology of history directly, insisting on the ongoing “advent” character of Christian faith and prayer, and so retained greater sensitivity to the “mighty works of God” in time and the event-character of salvation history. I don’t want to over-promise: the difference is more of emphasis than any outright disagreement. But a fine-tuned attention to this subtle fault line between these good friends may help us reflect on the character of the church in time.


Cathal Doherty, SJ, Marquette University

The Scandal of Particularity and Blondel's Philosophy of History.

The term ‘scandal of particularity’ (das Ärgernis der Einmaligkeit) is of surprisingly recent origin, due to biblical scholar Gerhard Kittel (1888-1948) in reference to the historical Jesus: the pretended universal relevance of a historical particularity being a scandal to Enlightenment rationalism. Yet the ‘scandal’ of relating the universal Absolute (supernatural) to particulars is pervasive in Christian religion and includes the notion of a true historical Revelation in scripture and tradition, as well as the entire sacramental economy. Theology cannot content itself with declaring that the supernatural is offered in particulars, therefore, but must explain how the immanence of the supernatural in historical particularity is no scandal to reason. One goal of Blondel’s early philosophy of action, Action (1893), is precisely this rehabilitation of historical particularity. He achieves this by establishing on a philosophical footing alone how Revelation in historical particulars is, in fact, a philosophical exigency of supernatural religion. In Blondel’s thought, the principle of Revelation is not the historical sign in itself, but the particular and finite human action of interpreting that sign; human action, in Blondel’s philosophy being the only adequate receptacle for the supernatural complement in concrete actuality. In this way, Blondel’s philosophy a priori resolves the ‘scandal’ of particularity by rehabilitating historical particularity on a philosophical level. No scandal at all, historical particularity is, in fact, a necessary consequence of the hypothetical supernatural gift. This philosophical conclusion forms the basis for a theological understanding of historical Revelation and ecclesial Tradition that is adequate to Catholic doctrine.


Alexis Torrance (University of Notre Dame)

‘My logoi shall not pass away': Christ’s gathering of history into eternity.

If to classical Greek thought the combination of theology with history would be counted “foolishness,” for Christianity, the pursuit of theology through the “scandal” of historical particularity is unavoidable. Jesus Christ is presented in this paper as the cornerstone of history, as he who gives time, and thus history (both collective and personal history), its true meaning. Rather than clamoring for theology to provide us with an escape route from history, or for viewing the historical as a mere allegory, cipher, or reflection of eternal realities, Christian revelation confronts us with the principle of the salvation of history and the redemption of time. Time is offered to us by God as an arena, as the all-important stage of motion and activity towards our end. Yet history is no predetermined play: it is forged in the struggle and freedom of personal life, a struggle that would remain meaningless were it not for the providential arc of salvation history through which God is definitively revealed and manifest in the flesh, where eschatology encounters history. When Christ declares that his words, his logoi, are more enduring than heaven and earth (cf. Mt 24:35; Lk 21:33), he discloses to us that he alone can offer definitive meaning, and a resolution, to the flux and vicissitudes of history. Drawing primarily on sources in the Orthodox tradition, this paper will grapple with several elements of the conference theme, culminating with a proposal for a Christian approach to history centered on Christological criteria.


Joseph Ogbonnaya, Marquette University

Lonergan and Doran’s Theology of History     

While many conceive history in terms of historiography as a record of past events, Lonergan and Doran think history as central to the being of the human subject. History accounts for the progress, decline and redemption of humanity. Human beings make and unmake history. This paper looks into Bernard Lonergan's notion of history and Doran's advancement of the Lonerganian historiography with emphasis on the role of God's grace in redemption of history. It draws out the implications of these for systematic theology and for world Christianity.


Eugenia Torrance, University of Notre Dame

“Begotten from the Father Before All Ages”: Finding a Space for the Nicene Theology of Time after Bulgakov and Behr

Despite their expressed commitment to conciliar theology, the modern Orthodox theologians Sergius Bulgakov and John Behr both call into question the coherence of the credal confession that the Son of God was begotten before the ages [πρὸ πάντων τῶν αἰώνων]. Specifically, these two theologians reject as nonsensical the suggestion that anything, including the Son, existed “before” time or even, in Bulgakov’s case, the description of creation as having a beginning (Behr 2019, 19ff., 248; Bulgakov 2002, 29). For both theologians, there can be no “before time,” since the word “before,” by their lights, itself implies a temporal sequence that cannot exist without time. On the logical level, this dismissal of “before the ages” is persuasive, a point conceded by the great modern Orthodox defender of Nicene theology, Georges Florovsky (1949, 57). Yet the distinction between “before” and “after” is one of the pillars of the difference between the begetting of the Son and His making of creatures, a difference that is enshrined in the Nicene creed, championed by Athanasius, and even endorsed by Behr and Bulgakov. This paper explores the precise nature of the apparent incoherence of the Nicene “before.” Is this incoherence a sign of the crudeness of Nicene theology or an unavoidable feature of any theological language that seeks to describe the paradox of action in time by an eternal God? A fuller reading of Athanasius’ arguments against the Arians discounts any accusation that the Nicene party countenanced a clumsy account of God as quasi-temporal, or of creation as quasi-eternal. Moreover, the “before” of the Creed, Scripture (John 8:58; Prov 8:23), and so much Byzantine hymnography expresses a type of priority that is temporal even if it is not “in time.” The “before” is an example of linguistic accommodation, one which is ultimately inescapable for all theologians, including even Bulgakov and Behr, whose concepts are inextricably bound by temporal and spatial categories. 


Dmitry Biriukov, Freie Universität Berlin, Osteuropa-Institut

The Byzantino-Centric Theologies of History in Russian Thinkers from the Mid-19th to the Early 20th Century (Ivan Kireevsky, Konstantin Leontiev, Pavel Florensky, and Alexei Losev)

The presentation will trace the Byzantinocentric theological views on history by Russian religious thinkers and theologians from the mid-19th to the early 20th centuries, such as Ivan Kireevsky, Konstantin Leontiev, Pavel Florensky, and Alexei Losev. In the case of Kireevsky, the characteristic feature of the Byzantine civilization is its inherent Platonism and Hellenism; following François Guizot and Georg Wilhelm Hegel, when reasoning about the essence of Byzantine and Russian civilizations in their history, Kireevsky operated from a progressivist historiosophical scheme. This was not shared by Leontiev, who, within the framework of his "Byzantist" doctrine, was guided by Nikolai Danilevsky's anti-progressive historiosophical scheme. I will demonstrate how these Byzantino-centric views on history in the 19th century found their reflection in early 20th-century Russian thought, in Pavel Florensky and Aleksei Losev. So, Florensky's view on the relationship between the Byzantine and Russian civilizations, like that of Kireevsky, is progressivist. Furthermore, both thinkers consider Palamism as the essence of “Byzantism” and as the pinnacle and culmination of the Byzantine civilization, heralding the beginning of the Russian civilization, the essence of which, according to both, also lies in Palamism. Alexei Losev's theological historiosophy in his discussions on Byzantium, combines certain lines of Florensky and Leontiev.


Demetrios Harper, St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

Fr. Georges Florovsky’s Chalcedonian View of History and the Foundations of Christian Doctrine

This paper will briefly outline Fr Georges Florovsky’s framing of what he defines as a “Chalcedonian” approach to history and the manner in which his rendition of historicity informs and buttresses his arguments for a “neo-patristic synthesis.” Seeking to build upon the work of the late Fr Matthew Baker, the paper will highlight Florovksy’s emphasis upon the significance of human thought and action within history, a thread that runs continuously throughout his Collected Works. As Florovsky argues in his Ecumenism I, the presuppositions of Chalcedonian Christology mandate an ecclesiological model according to which the Church is clothed in “historical flesh,” suggesting that the transformation of humanity includes the real content of history. Consequently, the authentic Christian spirit invites us to avoid the temptation toward a transcendental retreat from history and eschew the tendency to create an impassable abyss between the πόλις and the transcendent κόσμος. “Everyday trifles and ordinary events,” the seemingly mundane phenomena of temporal human life and interaction become the ground for the manifestation of the first fruits of the transformative potential of divine grace. When viewed through this “Chalcedonian” framework, the voices of the doctors and teachers of the Church “rise to the level of catholicity” and acquire permanent, even eschatological significance. In this way, Florovsky enables what he regards as “catholic” theology to retain its historically contextual quality while, at the same time, enduring as expressions of perennial truth.


Phil Rossi, SJ, Marquette University

Preludes to a Theology of History for a Secular Age: Lessons from Charles Taylor

The intellectual and cultural dynamics of "modernity" seemed, early on, to promise ever-advancing human development. In their "post-modern" aftermath(s) these dynamics have also been viewed as undermining intelligibility, fracturing conceptual stability, and "deconstructing" once-settled fields of meaning.  A cohort of commentators, both from modernity's defenders and its critics, continue to engage the distinctive conceptual challenges such critiques pose to modernity's encompassing projects for "making sense," i.e., its "master narratives." The targets of these critiques, unsurprisingly, include conceptually ambitious projects long undertaken in philosophical and theological inquiries, notably those probing human inclinations to seek a final, all-encompassing conceptual and imaginative closure to humanity's project(s) of “making sense of the world."These critiques place such projects under pressures arising from human engagements with the insistent plurality of otherness, particularity, and difference ingredient in our multi-cultural world. Charles Taylor terms such pressures a "nova effect," historically emergent from dynamics of plurality and otherness operative in cultures of Western modernity and its aftermath.These forces fracture once settled meanings about humanity’s relation to the cosmos, society, and the divine. In so doing, they propel a “nova effect” opening new possibilities delimiting human moral and spiritual aspirations. Among these possibilities, I will argue, is a construal of the "sense making" task of a theology of history: To identify and assess the good and the evil of the outcomes issuing from human finite agency's engagements with and upon the insistent plurality of otherness, particularity, and difference constitutive of the finite givenness of the world.


Joshua Miller, Marquette University

The Idea of Doctrine: In Defense of a History of (Theological) Ideas

In his now-classic article from 1969, "Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas," Quentin Skinner problematizes what he calls "the mythology of doctrine" assumed by many historians in their study of texts and authors, on the basis of which one searches for timeless answers to perennial questions. His attention to the unique context of a given author and the historically-conditioned meanings of the author's ideas leads Skinner to reject the very possibility of writing a history of ideas as such, for "there is no determinate idea to which various writers contributed, but only a variety of statements . . . by a variety of different agents with a variety of intentions" (Skinner, 38). Such a claim challenges any theology of history wishing to account for the process of consistent and ongoing inquiries into the truths of Christian faith according to which stable and enduring doctrines are formulated in, developed through, and understood over time. In this paper I will defend the notion of a history of ideas in theology - contra Skinner, along with John Behr - by appealing to John Henry Newman's theory of doctrinal development, especially his overlooked but crucial contention that the Church is the living and persistent subject in whose mind doctrine exists as an idea that is thought and reflected upon.


Paul Blowers, Emmanuel Christian Seminary, Milligan University

Maximus the Confessor's Neo-Irenaean Theology of History, Thickly Described.

If there is a “theology of history” in Maximus the Confessor—and I believe there is—it interconnects a constellation of discrete themes from his cosmology, Christology, and eschatology. It thus demands a thick description. Cosmologically(and metaphysically), the Confessor’s theology of history intertwines an ontology of creaturely motion (and of the divine motion within creatures) with the contemplation of creatures’ particular modes of being and of the contingencies of their concrete existence within the economy of divine “providence and judgment.” In this vein, I will broach Maximus’s salient image of the salutary “play” of the provident Logos in stirring human beings from chaos and instability toward ultimate order and blessedness. Like Irenaeus Maximus envisions postlapsarian human history as a theodrama, an interplay of divine and human freedom aimed at retraining the latter. Christologically, Maximus also follows Irenaeus’s lead in redefining cosmic history through the lens of the “recapitulation” of all things (Eph. 1:10) accomplished in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ—even though he pressed well beyond Irenaeus in the breadth of what divine incarnation entails. Questions and Responses for Thalassius 22 is especially intriguing in this regard, as Maximus collapses the “ages” of divine incarnation and creaturely deification rather than treating them strictly as consecutive. Eschatologically, Maximus does not contemplate the “end” of history as an unqualified return to prelapsarian beginnings. Ἀρχή and τέλος are coordinated but not equated, since the momentum of history is always toward an unprecedented glory. Deploying a careful dialectic of motion and rest, activity and passivity, Maximus avoids an abrupt closure of “historical” activity by the arrival of transcendence. History ultimately opens out onto an everlasting horizon of the Creator’s freedom to renew and transform the creature by participation in his infinite energies and perfections.


Tikhon Pino, Pappas Patristic Institute, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology

The Age of the Spirit: A Hesychast Theology of History

John Meyendorff once declared that, “For Dionysius’s closed and ‘anagogic’ universe,” the fourteenth-century defender of hesychasm, St Gregory Palamas, substituted “a theology of history.” This alternative theological vision centered not on the metaphysical hierarchies and structures of created being, or even grace, but on the incarnation of Christ, seen as a direct intervention of God into human life as a “historical and essentially new fact.” Meyendorff’s dichotomy between the Dionysian and the Palamite worldview has been subjected to repeated criticism. Yet his insights into the centrality of the incarnation, precisely as a historical event, offer an important key to understanding some of the controlling themes of Palamite theology. In this paper, I expand on Meyendorff’s insights by drawing attention to the way that a theology of history underpins the uniquely Palamite connections between the incarnation, on the one hand, and more abstract metaphysical categories like grace, energeia, and pneumatology, on the other.


Alex DaCruz, Saint Louis University

Divine Providence and Punishment as Apologetic Features in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History

How did Eusebius of Caesarea understand and interpret the role of divine action in his Historia Ecclesiastica, and what was the role between divine action and apologia in his historical writing? This essay argues that Eusebius incorporated the actions of divine providence and punishment into this history with apologetic intent. In other words, Eusebius established a defense of himself and those whom he supported by attesting to divine beneficence and punishment. The presence of divine action was not a new invention for Eusebius; rather, Eusebius interpreted divine providence and punishment in his narratives as defending Christianity—particularly in the tradition of Origen—against Judaism and paganism, and Eusebius clearly delineated to his readers which emperors he viewed as worthy of the position through this lens. Throughout the narrative of the HE, Eusebius presented God’s role in the history of the early Church as active and made clear to his readers those whom were favored by God (Origen, Constantine, etc.) and those whom were not (heretics, pagan emperors, etc.). After a brief comment on the terms “apology” and “apologetics,” an introduction to the life and work of Eusebius, and a brief survey of scholarship pertaining to the goals of this present work, I will bring attention to God’s actions of providence and punishment in particular texts of the Ecclesiastical History on Eusebius’ portrayal of the Jews, emperors, and Origen.

 Robert Johnson, Marquette University

Ambrose of Milan, the Beauty of the Created Order, and the Purpose of History

This paper will examine Ambrose of Milan’s theology of history by placing it in dialogue with his theology of the created world (especially in the Hexameron). Ambrose sees the universe as being beautifully ordered and well-made, the handiwork of the Word. This can especially be seen in the human person, who is capable of recognizing, understanding, and expressing this beauty. After making humankind – beings ordered toward God by the gifts of reason, virtue, and grace – God finds rest. This rest points towards our flourishing that is found in God, and the “rest” that will be found in Christ’s salvific death on the Cross. All things are ordered in the Son, who is both the initium mysticum, and the “end.” God is the foundation and arranger of all things, the source and inspiration of all good and true. Therefore, there is no higher end “beyond” the Son. Humanity’s beginnings point to its end. For Ambrose, history is the “unfolding” of the beginning and the end described above. It is inexorably driven by the salvific work of God. It is also the story of our continual search to see that truth – as we attempt to avoid the error of being too “puffed up” in our own perceived wisdom apart from the Spirit, caught up and “ensnared” in our arrogance and dissensiones. History is the story of our being made and remade in Christ, and our gradual recognition of that beautiful truth, as we are guided by the Spirit, the Word, and the Church.


Rachel Corcho, University of Notre Dame

The Structure of the Greek Paideia within Salvation History and its Hermeneutical Implications in Clement of Alexandria

 This paper investigates how Clement of Alexandria incorporates the different sources of truth he encounters, namely in the writings of the Greek philosophers and poets as well as in the Scriptures. While past scholarship has focused on the question of whether Clement privileges faith or reason, and thus on whether he allegorizes the philosophers or “platonizes” the Scriptures, this paper seeks to show that Clement, as an Alexandrian, has inherited Hellas and Judaism not separately but as realities already in contact with one another, especially in the figure of Philo of Alexandria. Philo’s understanding of the paideia and the Mosaic law’s place in it as the pinnacle of the curriculum is most pertinent for the present question. We find in Clement’s Stromateis that he appropriates the structure of the paideia as an image for the phases of salvation history in which both philosophy and the Mosaic law served as “preparations” or “pedagogues” until the Incarnation. Nonetheless, Clement maintains Philo’s distinction between philosophy and the Law by asserting the greater perfection of the Law, though it is no longer the pinnacle. Thus, it is within this image of history as paideia that Clement works out the question of the status and relationship of both philosophy and the Scriptures, what truths are contained in them, and how the two should be read by Christians.


Travis Bott, Nashotah House Theological Seminary

Figural History in the Book of Genesis

Erich Auerbach described figural interpretation as the perception of a relationship between persons or events in historical sequence so that the first anticipates the second and the second fulfills the first. He argued that early Christians used figural interpretation to integrate the Jewish Scriptures with their belief in Jesus Christ and their membership in the Church: they read the people and events of the Old Testament as figures that found fulfillment in a new work of God. Richard Hays has explored in detail the retrospective figural interpretations of St. Paul and the Gospel writers. Hans Frei has shown how premodern figural interpretation was eventually eclipsed in the eighteen and nineteenth centuries when the concept of history was detached from the history depicted in biblical narrative. Building on the work of these scholars, I argue that figural interpretation and its understanding of history does not begin with the New Testament use of the Old; rather, it begins “in the beginning,” that is, in the book of Genesis, the first book of the biblical narrative. I provide examples from the primeval story (chs. 1–11), the Abraham cycle (chs. 12–25), the Jacob cycle (chs. 25–36), and the Joseph narrative (chs. 37–50) to demonstrate that Genesis exhibits a theology of history that can be described as “figural history.” In light of this finding, I conclude with reflections on divine providence, the development of Scripture, and Christian biblical interpretation.


Gabriel Gordon, Marquette University

A Jewish Ecclesial Theology of History: Sinai and the Ever-present life of Yeshua

Supersessionism relies on a linear conception of history which sees the revelation of Yeshua and the economy of God as overriding that which linearly came before it. In order to properly overcome supersessionist theology attention must be given to constructing a non-linear theology of history – one which does not construe a linearly past revelation and covenant to Israel divorced from the revelation and covenant renewed in Yeshua the Incarnate Word. The aim of this paper is to construct a theology of history which collapses, by way of Eternity, the revelation and covenant of Messiah and Sinai into two simultaneous events that while two moments in concreate history, through their rootedness in Eternity can be seen as one revelation and covenant established simultaneously. I will proceed to construct this theology of history by drawing from the rabbinic teaching that all of Israel (past, present and future) was present at the Sinai revelation, and mapping the entirety of Yeshua’s earthly life as present at Sinai. By way of necessity focus will be given to select episodes from the life of Yeshua, that display a simultaneous continuity between the economy of God in Yeshua during the first century and Yeshua’s economic work among his people Israel at Sinai. I will conclude with a brief account of how this theology of history doesn’t simply move us in a backwards direction, but also a forward one, namely to the effect, that as we declare in the liturgy, Messiah is born today, so we can also proclaim, today Messiah gives us Torah.


Sam Turpin, Marquette University

Salvation History in Apocalyptic Literature: The Case of the Animal Apocalypse

The title of this paper juxtaposes two categories, “salvation history” and “apocalyptic,” that have been used by NT scholars to describe competing reconstructions of biblical history. In a salvation-historical reading of the Bible the incarnation signifies the fulfillment of the OT covenants and the continuation of God’s progressive self-revelation. In an apocalyptic reading, however, the incarnation becomes a jarring historical event that marks the decisive and disruptive inbreaking of the Messiah into the biblical narrative. The aim of this paper is not to comment on the relationship of the Old and New Testaments nor even to describe the historical role of the incarnation. Rather, by analyzing the historiography of ancient apocalyptic literature, I hope to demonstrate that the categories of “salvation history” and “apocalyptic” are not mutually exclusive. To accomplish this goal, I will examine the Animal Apocalypse, a second-century B.C.E. historical apocalypse that offers an allegorical retelling of the biblical narrative from the era of Adam to the author’s present time in the Maccabean Revolt. Like many other apocalypses, the Animal Apocalypse does envision a future wherein God will disrupt the current system of persecution and bring about a new utopic existence. But this eschatological hope does not mean that the text lacks a salvation history. To the contrary, the Animal Apocalypse, I will argue, emphasizes how God has worked positively and progressively throughout the history of Israel to bring about the salvation of His chosen people.


Sylvester Tan, SJ, Southern Methodist University

“Christ who lives in me”: life in time as content of a Saint’s heavenly mission

Thérèse of Lisieux famously declared that she wished for her heaven to be to do good on Earth, and scholars of Thérèse note the relationship between the particular shape of Thérèse’s life and the graces sought by those devoted to her today. Similar parallels can be observed between the lives of other saints and the supposed patronage that they exercise. Drawing significantly upon resources found in Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Theology of History, this paper proposes that the enfleshed particularity of the earthly life in Christ that God offers a saint within time forms the basis of the particularity of the intercessory mission exercised by that saint in glory. The saint’s earthly life is itself an explication and exposition of Christ’s own temporally-revealed eternal life for the world which the saint receives as a heavenly treasure that can be shared even after one’s own death. Thus, every moment of an earthly human life bears potential eternal significance, since the graces received in each moment by an individual form the basis of a particular sharing in Christ’s life that the saint shares in a unique way with all other people in eternity.  This proposal will engage Ephraim Radner’s exploration of time and the shape of a human life in light of the revelation of God’s own life in the Word made flesh and the eschatology of Joseph Ratzinger.


Daniel Edwards, Marquette University

Everything Everywhere All at Once? Liturgical and Historical Time in the Syriac East

Liturgical time has often been noted for its use, especially in festal prayers, hymns, and homilies, of the adverbial acclamation “Today…,” which recognizes and effects within the liturgy a sense of an eternal now, joining together of the events of the past with the present circumstances of the worshipers into a simultaneous moment. Thus, the worshipers participate within these events made present to them. Such an approach to time could be understood to relativize the movement of history in the light of eternity and, even worse, to suggest a flight from the particular vicissitudes of the historical present altogether. After all, if the present is subsumed and flattened into eternal typological events, does this particular moment mean anything in itself? In this paper I seek to dispel this concern. Through an analysis of the little-known 4th century Syriac writings attributed to a certain “Cyrillona,” I propose that liturgical time is not ahistorical, but sits comofortably alongside concerns for the historical present. Cyrillona provides a useful case study because in his memre (all but one of which are festal homilies) one finds that the contemporizing movement of the liturgical “Today” is firmly joined to the historical particularity of his congregation. This is especially evident in the memra known as On the Scourges, in which Cyrillona combines festal celebration with a profound lament for recent calamities that have befallen his congregation. Thus, in this paper I will analyze these works and then draw out some implications of liturgical time for giving a theological account of history.


Michael Proietta, Marquette University

A Theology of Sacred Music History: Providential Transformation from the Ars Nova to the Venetian School

The purpose and content of this paper is to propose and investigate the characteristics of a theology of sacred music history, focusing on western liturgical polyphony from the High Middle Ages to the beginning of the Baroque Era. While there has been substantive research on the history of European liturgical/sacred music in the Roman Catholic tradition, there has been comparatively little reflection on the theological dimensions of that history. Using the hermeneutic structure of historia and theoria, this paper will have two principal sections: First, we will summarize the history of western sacred music from the twelfth century to the early seventeenth century with a focus on three primary stages: namely, 1.) the transition from the Ars Antiqua style of the twelfth century Notre Dame school to the Ars Nova style in the fourteenth century, 2.) the Renaissance polyphony of Josquin de Prez and Palestrina from the fifteenth to sixteenth centuries, and 3.) the polychoral antiphonal style of the Venetian school at the turn of the seventeenth century. Second, we will investigate the theological import of that history as regulated by the following four questions. 1.) To what extent can we discern God’s presence as the guiding principle of musical development in western liturgical contexts? 2.) Can this development be conceptualized as the continual “unfolding” of deeper participation in divine Beauty, or are distinct compositional styles only “moments” that reveal contingencies on the stage of human historical action? 3.) Based on the previous two questions, can sacred musical tradition be conceived as an organic whole that is supra-temporal (i.e., “transcending” historical change), or is it irredeemably conditioned by its variable temporal locations? 4.) Finally, to what extent does the interplay between continuity and change over time reflect Christ’s self-revelation communicating through music, particularly in its broader liturgical horizon?


Christopher Grodecki, SJ, University of Notre Dame

Ratzinger, Romanticism, and Revelation in History

This paper seeks to advance the thesis that Joseph Ratzinger’s theology of history, broadly speaking, continues the Tübingen school’s fundamental theology of revelation, by examining and comparing the historical principles found in Franz Anton Staudenmaier’s Spirit of Divine Revelation and works of Ratzinger across his theological career, most notably his Habilitationsschrift on Bonaventure, Principles of Theology, Truth and Tolerance. The basis for the comparison, besides Ratzinger’s own study of the Tübingen School theologians, is the continuing issue of the modern Western philosophy of history that prioritizes human action and the notion of progress, which for both figures is rooted in modern German philosophies of idealism (Hegel and Schelling) and praxis (Kant and Marx). Navigating between these extremes, both Staudenmaier and Ratzinger rely upon a Logos-theology of creation; a Platonic metaphysics of participation that allows for God’s action in the world and the free human response in their search for truth, grounded in the recovery of Medieval notions of revelation; and a multiform understanding of revelation that distinguishes between extraordinary “Revelation” attested to Scripture in which the center and telos of history is revealed in Christ and “revelation” as the human encounter with God in the world. Ratzinger develops Staudenmaier’s notion of revelation in a more personalist key by emphasizing the continuing action of God in Christ through the Church and its sacraments in the on-going formation of believers in sanctity, which occurs through the Providential encounters between the culture of the Church and the peoples of the world and their cultures, these being loci of “revelation” in history that contribute to the deepening of the understanding of Revelation.


Dartanyan Edmonds, University of Notre Dame

The Incarnation as the Renewal of History: Nature and Grace in Matthias Scheeben

The theology of the nineteenth century Catholic theologian Matthias Scheeben is gaining noticeable (even if incrementally increasing) attention in the American theological academy. This paper aims to explicate Scheeben’s contribution to the theology of history through the lens of the nature-grace relationship and the Incarnation. For Scheeben, the Incarnation unites the orders of human nature and divine grace in orderly harmony as the hypostatic union brings together divinity and humanity. This union in turn causes history to inherit what Scheeben calls the “hypostatic order,” a metaphysical state of human and cosmic affairs based on the Incarnation. The hypostatic order, for Scheeben, is a more profound union of human nature and grace than humanity would have been capable of receiving without the Incarnation and is based uniquely on Christ’s headship over all humanity. Yet, the orders of nature and grace remain irreducibly distinct even while their union in the hypostatic order is intact. Of course, this mirrors the hypostatic union itself wherein Christ’s natures remain irreducibly distinct while enjoying intimate unity in Christ’s personal being. This paper will explore Scheeben’s understanding of the nature-grace distinction and union through his understanding of the Incarnation and hypostatic union as a historical event that communicates Trinitarian life to humanity in an embodied, ecclesial way, putting all of human history in contact with the incarnate Christ.        


 Jack Nuelle, Loyola University Chicago

History Local and Divine: Karl Rahner, Johann Baptist Metz, and Ignacio Ellacuría on Grace and the Human Subject

Karl Rahner’s argument that history is the site of the transcendent human subject’s encounter with God is a crucial aspect of the anthropological turn in theology. Two other theologians, both former students of Rahner influenced by this anthropological turn, Johann Baptist Metz and Ignacio Ellacuría, critique and refine Rahner’s theology. Metz argues that Rahner’s transcendental theology makes the human person a detached religious subjectivity. Instead, for Metz, humanity is conditioned by history, including and especially human suffering. Ellacuría refines Metz’s historical particularity further. For Ellacuría, there is an absolute nature to historical reality that mediates our encounter with God. Because all things participate in the life of God, human persons experience God’s triune reality “theologally,” which is to say, human persons experience a historicized distillation of triune life. To define a true theology of history, I finally argue, requires a synthesis of these three thinkers. This theology is God’s encounter with transcendent human subjects, who are animated by dangerous historical memory, and therefore radically opened to an ethical call, not just within history writ large, but within contextualized historical moments.


Matthew Kemp, Marquette University

Authority in History: A Comparative Study of Vincent of Lerins and John Henry Newman

What authority does history have in Christian doctrine? And what, in turn, does this imply about the theology of history? This paper will compare the approaches to these questions taken by Vincent of Lerins and John Henry Newman. While Vincent sees the appeal to antiquity (alongside catholicity and consensus) as indispensable for determining authoritative doctrine, Newman posits the need for an infallible authority to guarantee that the church’s teaching develops correctly over time. By a comparative reading of Vincent’s Commonitorium and Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, this paper will show that the two actually share some common assumptions about revelation and the Holy Spirit’s guidance of the church, but they part ways on the question of how we discern such guidance within the church’s history. More specifically, Newman assumes an external or “top-down” approach to the Holy Spirit’s authority in the church, while Vincent allows for a more organic or “bottom-up” way of discerning the Spirit’s direction. This analysis will allow for an assessment of Newman’s rejection of the so-called Vincentian canon, and will open up further avenues of exploration on the role of history in theological method.

 Milwaukee, Wisconsin, home of Marquette University


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