- Hardcover: 312 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (June 20, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0198729197
- ISBN-13: 978-0198729198
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.8 x 6.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #866,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Pope and the Professor: Pius IX, Ignaz von Dollinger, and the Quandary of the Modern Age 1st Edition
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"Exemplary"--Grant Kaplan, First Things
"Mr Howard's book does not pretend to be the complete story of how Roman Catholicism evolved from Pius IX to Frances, but it does reveal-with impressive scholarship and lively prose-the fascinating drama of how that transformation began."--The Wall Street Journal
"I strongly recommend this book for anybody interested in Catholicism's struggle with the modern world and in the process by which in the 19th century the church became more pope-centered than ever before."--John W. O'Malley, The Jesuit Review
"All those interested in understanding the Catholic Church should read this book about the defining 'cause célèbre' between Pius IX and Ignaz von Döllinger, in a century much closer to us than we may possibly believe. Howard masterly frames this famous theological case in a situation . . . that speaks directly to our situation today. Ignaz von Döllinger's Catholicism is in many respects the Catholicism of Vatican II. This deeply researched book on Döllinger helps us understand why this 19th-century tragedy is necessary to understand Catholicism between Vatican II and post-Vatican II."--Massimo Faggioli, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, Villanova University
"This is a tale of the clash of two titans: one the shepherd of all Catholics, the other the undisputed leader of academic theologians. It is set against the background of the First Vatican Council, the ousting of liberal thought in the Church and a number of political crises that pushed the papacy to an astounding level of bellicosity. Masterfully narrated, even-handed in its judgments and analyses, and based on a vast amount of archival sources, it is without doubt the new standard work on nineteenth-century Catholicism."--Ulrich L. Lehner, Professor of Religious History and Historical Theology, Marquette University
"A well-researched and excellently narrated account of an important period in Catholic history and on two people in particular: Ignaz Döllinger and Pope Pius IX. Howard brilliantly explores crucial dynamics of the period through the lens of these two protagonists."--Johannes Zachhuber, Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, University of Oxford
"In this compelling and beautifully-written book, Howard traces the life and work of the great church historian Ignaz von Döllinger against the backdrop of European history. It is far more than a simple biography of one of the leading opponents of the First Vatican Council: it is also a brilliant account of the interaction of politics, church, and theology in a period of unprecedented change. Howard has drawn on a wide range of sources to produce a masterly introduction to nineteenth-century Catholicism."--Mark Chapman, Vice-Principal and Professor of the History of Modern Theology, Ripon College, Oxford
About the Author
Thomas Albert Howard is Professor of History and the Humanities and holder of the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics at Valparaiso University. His previous Oxford University Press publications include Remembering the Reformation: An Inquiry into the Meanings of Protestantism (2015), God and the Atlantic: America, Europe, and the Religious Divide (2011), and Protestant Theology and the Making of the Modern German University (2006).
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This is an excellent book by one of the most astute and prolific evangelical scholars of his generation. After earning his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 1996, Howard long taught at Gordon College in Massachusetts where he was a campus leader on issues of integration of faith and learning. While at Gordon he published seven books with three of them, this being the third, forming a trilogy on the quandaries caused for Christian scholars by the modern university's institutional commitment to historicism. The first book of this trilogy is Religion and the Rise of Historicism: W.M.L de Wette, Jacob Burckhardt, and the Theological Origins of Nineteenth-Century Historical Consciousness (Cambridge University, 2000). The second is Protestant Theology and the Making of the Modern German University (Oxford, 2006). With this third book, Howard expands his analysis
to Roman Catholic universities in Germany and offers the tragic story of Döllinger (1799-1890) as counterpoint to the triumphal Burckhardt (1818-1897) of his first book.
With the account of Döllinger in The Pope and the Professor, Howard gives a Roman Catholic take on the effects of the new historicism's certainties that were supported by German nationalism. Burckhardt was attracted but remained ambivalent. Döllinger, on the other hand, embraced historicism and German nationalism, but because of it, found himself unable to speak into the greatest question put to his church in that era: papal infallibility. Ignaz von Döllinger was considered in his own lifetime to be one of the greatest of Roman Catholic theologians and church historians. "Döllingerites" and even "Döllingerism," Howard tells us, "emerged as shorthand expressions to refer to central European Catholic opposition to the decrees of the Vatican Council" (6). Döllinger was often portrayed in the popular press as another Martin Luther. Döllinger himself and many others have described ongoing opposition to the church's decree as a matter of conscience, but Howard sees a much broader story in the matter, and even a much broader way of understanding appeals to conscience by Christian faculty deeply committed to the historicist methods of the knowledge industry. As the third in Howard's trilogy, The Pope and the Professor is a psychological thriller about a great moment in global history when one of the greatest of popes, Pius IX, personally affronted by political developments in Europe and using scholastic reasoning methods, went head-to-head against a widely influential professor, Döllinger, who was so deeply committed to historicism and German nationalism that he felt conscience-bound to fight the church he loved.
Of course Tal Howard is no Dan Brown. This thriller is intellectual history at its footnoted best. Howard writes (ironically?) well within the standards of the knowledge-industry which were set by the historicism he studies. There are two threads upon which his story hangs. The first is the pitting of a scholastic method of theology against a historicized method. The second is the grayness of scholarly declarations of intellectual conscience.
As for the first, the scholastic theology on the rise during the nineteenth century in most Catholic institutions of higher learning was neo-Thomism, an optimistic Christianized Aristotelianism. "For although faith is above reason," Howard quotes Pope Pius IX spouting a neo-Thomist maxim, "no real disagreement can ever be found between them; this is because both come from the same greatest source of unchanging truth, God" (44). Although Howard handles neo-Thomism with great sophistication and subtlety, it can most simply be characterized as the opposite of historicism. Howard shows its use in undergirding the twin doctrines of greatest significance to Pius IX: The assertions of the Immaculate Conception of Mary and Papal Infallibility. Döllinger, a promoter of German industrial standards of knowledge among Catholic institutions of higher learning, insisted that these two doctrines lacked any evidence that was convincing by historicist standards. Döllinger, an expert on the history of the papacy, could offer as evidence a wide variety of contradictory statements by popes and awkward stories of popes being fools and even rogues. Döllinger thought that the neo-Thomist tradition was erroneously dependent upon divine revelation rather than what historicists would agree were facts.
As for the second, Döllinger's appeal to conscience and his heroic/tragic refusal to perjure himself was honorable by the standards of both nineteenth-century academic liberalism and neo-Thomism. Howard quotes Thomas Aquinas that an appeal to one's conscience, even if an erroneous or mistaken conscience, can be considered noble and a mitigating factor in a court of judgment. On the other hand, everybody involved was conscientious. The pope and his theological supporters were not being intellectually duplicitous or sneaky. Howard quotes from correspondence between John Henry Newman and Döllinger and compares their different appeals to conscience after the decree of papal infallibility. Döllinger need not have been excommunicated. The trouble was his public and on-going insistence to the point that it is not surprising to readers that a pugnacious pope decided to have him excommunicated. What the reader takes away is not that Döllinger was wrong; rather, that he was so fanatically committed to the new historicism and German nationalism of the Germanic university system that he thought he was appealing to immutable laws of logic. Döllinger had only scorn for what were solid alternative traditions of Christian thinking. Howard quotes Döllinger describing the doctrine of papal infallibility as "positively monstrous" (154).
Howard does not offer a "concluding unscientific postscript" but any reader today, when finished with the last page, is going to set down the book, lean back, and ponder obvious ironies. Döllinger thought that the papacy was shooting itself in the foot. In that age of progress the pope was withdrawing from any intellectual authority in the world. Döllinger, himself, was confident that historicism would be embraced by all universities and that German nationalism would be at the forefront of creating a better world. Döllinger plays the fool in the book. Today we live in the great age of the papacy. Modernism has given way to post-modernism. Universities and books by university presses today promote critiques of historicism. As for German nationalism, well….
Although Howard’s sympathy seems to lean heavily towards Döllinger, he also cautions the modern liberal-minded reader to sympathize and understand the process that lead to the proclamation of papal infallibility at the First Vatican Council of 1870. The French Revolution had unleashed violent anti-clericalism that lead to the kidnaping of Pius VI by Napoleon. In response, there was a powerful wave of sympathy for the martyr pope and a mushrooming of ultra-montane theology that urged a doctrine of papal infallibility as an anchor is such a turbulent time.
Revolutionary anti-clericalism wasn’t the only problem from the Vatican’s point of view. The nineteenth century also saw the rise of historical criticism. This is where Döllinger comes in. A life-long theologian, his theological work was thoroughly grounded in historical criticism. Being a devout Catholic, Döllinger sought to forge a middle ground between historians who debunked belief and an approach to theology focused on eternal verities disconnected from history. The papacy favored the latter, not least because unfolding history was unkind to the Vatican. As a result Döllinger ran afoul of the ultramontanist theologians and the papacy when Pope Pius IX rode a surge of Catholic opinion towards the proclamation of papal infallibility at the Vatican Council. Döllinger’s historical work convinced him that Papal Infallibility was untenable as a dogmatic truth considered necessary for salvation. Nineteenth century nationalism was also a major factor as Döllinger felt that historical-critical studies was an important German gift to the Catholic world, offering an important corrective to the Italianate approach that eschewed historical studies at the time. Since Italian nationalism had caused Pius IX to flee Rome in 1848, the Pope was not about to embrace nationalism of any kind, and certainly not German nationalism.
Howard describes the drama of the Vatican Council in some detail with an emphasis on Döllinger’s role, which was considerable. Much of the opposition to papal infallibility came from Germany and Döllinger provided the most penetrating theological and historical reasons for rejecting it. The pope and the ultramontanist theologians won. Almost all of the opposition among bishops crumbled. Döllinger stood firm and was excommunicated by Cardinal Scheer on the Pope’s orders (or at least strong acquiesence.)
The Old Catholic Church emerged as a new church formed by those who rejected the Vatican Council. Döllinger was their central hero but the venerable theologian and historian could never accept what he saw as a schismatic body and he never joined. He did, however, use his connections with the Old Catholics to lead what was arguably the most important ecumenical thrust of the nineteenth century. The Old Catholic Church was in a good position to reach out to Anglicans and Orthodox and Protestants and two conferences held at Bonn raised high hopes that quickly dissipated. Döllinger was chief organizer and presider over these ecumenical conferences although he himself was the only person there who wasn’t actually a member in good standing of any church whatsoever!
Howard’s study emphasizes the tension between theological thinking that normally deals with abiding truths and historical study that, among other things, provides historical contexts for the emergence of ideas about abiding truths. Religious debates in the 21st century show us that this tension is still not resolved, although Howard does show how Vatican II offered some vindication for Döllinger, who, as one who died excommunicate, could not be officially credited for his witness. One can also see in the analyses in this book how positions can harden in extreme ways that exacerbate tensions. Döllinger’s own writing, normally so careful and thoughtful, became frantic and shrill as the Vatican Council approached. Another major issue in the book is the relationship between individual conscience and the consensus of a religious body. For all the pressure put on Döllinger to accept what he saw as a “new” dogma, he simply could not go against what his own studies had led him to believe. As an excommunicate from his own church, he was in both a lonely position and a highly heralded position because he held to his personal integrity. All of these issues make this highly readable volume of great value today. Very highly recommended.