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Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians Paperback – December 13, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-1405120845 ISBN-10: 1405120843 Edition: 1st

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Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians + Nouvelle Théologie - New Theology: Inheritor of Modernism, Precursor of Vatican II + The Mystery of the Supernatural (Milestones in Catholic Theology)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (December 22, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405120843
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405120845
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #511,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


?Kerr's style is lively and engaging. He places the theological issues that arise against biographical backgrounds that take into account power struggles within the Church and events in the wider world.? (The Way , April 2009)

"Kerr covers a range of important topics ... To read this wonderful book is to receive a first class introduction to Catholic theology in the twentieth century." Modern Theology

"This is a superb introduction, inspiring for readers in every Christian tradition. Kerr is deft on the theology, and he includes personal details so that his theologians never become blank abstractions. And few theologians write prose as lively as Kerr?s." Touchstone

?Kerr, a brilliantly erudite and elliptical Dominican theologian, is a deft guide to this vast and complex subject ? Riveting, insightful and astute.? International Journal of Public Theology

"Excellent ? It is difficult to think who could have provided us with a more authoritative and engaging account of this decisive century in the theology of the Western Church."
New Directions

"Kerr writes with a clarity and wit." Christian Century

"A smartly done survey of the figures who reshaped Catholic theology before, during, and after the Second Vatican Council."
First Things

?A vivid and informative volume, exploring the sometimes turbulent life, work, and legacy of the twentieth century?s most important Catholic theologians.?
Theological Book Review

"With characteristic lucidity and insight, Fergus Kerr narrates the story of twentieth-century Catholic theology. This illuminating and compelling account will surely be appreciated by a wide ecumenical readership." David Fergusson, University of Edinburgh

"An engaging biblio-biographical study designed to show the critical influence of ten theologians in transforming twentieth-century Catholicism. Kerr's keen sense for trajectories reveals how startling has been the transformation ? more than half had been disciplined by Vatican authorities. In the face of these lives, no one will ever be able to doubt the potential for intellectual regeneration, while the rich perspective they offer may also help defuse trivial tensions exacerbated by needless ideological polarization. This narrative of theology-in-action is meant for literate faithful as well as pastoral workers from acolyte to bishop." David Burrell, University of Notre Dame

"Kerr, with his usual oblique fluency, miraculously manages to include an attention to nuance and telling detail within a short general account that is unerringly focussed on what, in the previous century of Catholic thought, is still likely to matter in the current one. This volume will surely become the standard introduction to its subject matter." John Milbank, University of Nottingham

"This volume offers analysis of some of the most significant theologians of the last hundred years by a theologian widely regarded as the most knowledgeable and insightful academic in the field. Simply invaluable." Alan Torrance, St. Andrews University

?Fergus Kerr?has a reputation for fair-mindedness and scholarly precision. Kerr encourages us to recognize that different theological movements can coexist within the church.?
Commonweal Magazine

"A well researched book that is beautifully written and will appeal to the undergraduate, postgraduate and scholars of theology." Expository Times

Book Description

This book reports on the lives and works of the most influential Catholic theologians of the twentieth century, including: Chenu, who renewed Thomism by returning Aquinas to historical context; Congar who made ecumenism possible for Catholics; de Lubac who specialised in rehabilitating forgotten doctrines and marginalized theologians; and Küng who was deprived of his right to teach as a Catholic theologian and became the most widely read Catholic theologian of modern times. Fergus Kerr - one of the foremost Roman Catholic theologians currently writing in English - discusses the theological development of each figure and their relationship to Church teaching. He highlights how each one contributed to the reform and renewal of the Church at the Second Vatican Council. The study of Thomas Aquinas was mandatory in their student years, yet each found his own distinctive way of dealing with this requirement. In the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar and the late Pope John Paul II, the neoscholastic metaphysics that dominated in the first half of the century gave way in the second half to a theology of the body, gender difference and nuptiality.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Quentin D. Stewart on May 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating book in that it combines biographical information with the most significant contributions of the theologians who shaped Vatican II theology and beyond. Traditionalists may not be pleased with Kerr's portrayal of Roman Catholicism in the first half of the twentieth century as having a fortress mentality where Thomas Aquinas's Summa was the main textbook lectured on in Catholic seminaries in order to rid seminarians of the heresy of "modernism." ( N.B. The key to understanding the author's premise lies in the title itself: "From Neoscholasticism to Nuptial Mysticism." )

Some traditionalists may not appreciate seeing the early 20th century being painted so darkly. For instance, Marie Dominique Chenu's major crime was his attempt to read Aquinas in his historical context, rather than as a series of timeless truths. Chenu was keen on pointing out Aquinas's relation to Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius, Neo-platonism and the varieties of Aristotelianism permeating the 12th and 13th centuries. Who would object to an historical analysis of Aquinas today? Yet this was consdidered dangerous by the Powers That Be, for it could lead to the relativization of Thomas's thought. Ironically Chenu, or Kerr, observes that early 20th century Catholic thought had a great deal in common with the Enlightenment thought it was seeking to combat. Kerr then notes that Aquinas is hardly read today and that Catholic theology post-Vatican II is much more concerned about "nuptial mysticism" epitomized by the Song of Songs and its patristic commentaries rather than with Thomistic thought. I personally am not quite sure that the loss of Neo-scholasticism and its intellecual rigor has benefited Catholicism.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Oswald Sobrino on November 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fergus Kerr gives us a very much needed overview of twentieth century Catholic theology both before and after Vatican II. It is especially needed because too many, on both the theological "left" and "right," tend to distort the state of the Church at the time of Vatican II. On the one hand, theological liberals often tend to view the state of the Church as dire just before Vatican II. On the other hand, some theological traditionalists tend to view the Church just before Vatican II as being a utopia. Neither caricature is accurate. Kerr gives us the balance that comes from seeking out history, instead of making it up for ideological reasons. Especially good is Kerr's treatment of the great French theologians who were intent on the reform of the Church before Vatican II.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Liske on May 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
It's great to see a concise survey of 20th century Catholic theology such as this come out - but my complaint is not that it isn't written well, but that it focuses so heavily on Vatican II and the Nouvelle Theologie movement (admittedly a dominant movement) and focuses very little on anything else.
My question is - why does Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange not even warrant a section of his own? Many consider him the greatest Thomist since St. Thomas Aquinas himself, and he doesn't even get his own section? And yet a liberal hack theologian like Hans Kung does? This is inexplicable. Sure, Kung's horrifically poor theology warrants a section, but at the expense of others like Garrigou=Lagrange, it makes no sense...
Also, where is Jacques Maritain???
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Fergus Kerr gives an intriguing look at theology in the wake of the great thomistic revival of the 19th Century. The inclusion of so many people who have influenced the council makes a valuable read. The title can be misleading however as the work does not include other influences like the feminist movement, the rise in environmental theology or liberation theology. That being said it includes chapters on Henri De Lubac, Congar, Balthasar, Rahner, JPII, and Benedict. Perhaps some of the most influential thinkers of Vatican II. I knew who most of the people were, but I didn't really know what they thought or wrote. This book is invaluable to those who are getting into Catholic Theology.
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