The Fathers of the Church in Christian Theology

by Fedou
Catholic University of America Press, 2019
eISBN: 978-0-8132-3172-3, Paper: 978-0-8132-3171-6

The main purpose of The Fathers of the Church in Christian Theology is to argue that Patristic studies still has much to contribute to theological reflections in our time. Throughout history, the reading of the Fathers of the Church has made major contributions to Christian thinking. This fecundity was notably verified in the 20th century through the work of theologians like Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar. It was as well manifested broadly in the life of the church that, with the Vatican II council, drew from the patristic tradition a source of inspiration for its own renewal.

However, even though the research and work on early Christianity has experienced considerable growth for several decades, Christian theology is today confronted with new questions. Thus, what status to recognize in the exegesis of the Fathers? Has not the distance from the heritage of patristic thinking been widened? More radically, do not the demands of contextual theologies on diverse continents compel a distancing away from some traditions that formerly were principally limited to Mediterranean and European regions?

If these questions must be taken into account, they, nevertheless, cannot dispense with Christian theology being, today as yesterday, inspired and made fecund by the writings of the Fathers. Michel Fédou attempts to shed light on what, in our own era, justifies the necessity of a patristic theology. He shows how the reading of the Fathers contributes to the understanding of the faith in the different fields of Christian thinking. It highlights the importance of their writings for the spiritual life and the valuable nourishment that they thus offer to our times.
Foreword by Brian E. Daley, SJ
Preface to the English Edition
Preface to the French Edition
Part One. From Yesterday to Today: The Contribution of Patristics to Christian Theology
“Fathers of the Church,” “Patrology,” “Patristics”
Reading the Fathers in the Middle Ages
From the Renaissance to the Nineteenth Century
Johann Adam Möhler and John Henry Newman
“Return to the Fathers”: The Meaning of This Expression
The Genesis of the Collection Sources Chrétiennes
From the 1950s to Vatican Council II
The Influence of the Patristic Renewal on Vatican Council II
3. The Patristic Renewal from the 1930s to the 1960s: Its Fecundity for Christian Theology
Henri de Lubac and “Our Fathers in the Faith”
From Christian Origins to Gregory of Nyssa: The Patristic Work of Jean Daniélou
Yves Congar and the Tradition of the Fathers
In the German-Speaking Sphere: Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar, Readers of the Fathers
4. From Vatican II to Our Day
Publications and Translations
The Contribution to the History of Dogmas and Christian Theology
Patristics Questioned by Human Sciences and Philosophy
Patristics and Theology: The Present Difficulties
Some Misunderstandings to Be Dispelled
Spiritual Exegesis according to Origen
“Both Testaments”
The Real Significance of Patristic Exegesis
Patristics and Human Sciences
Philosophical Stakes
The “Authority” of the Fathers
For a Patristic Theology
7. Patristics in the Age of Globalization
Latin America, Africa, Asia
Patristics and “Contextual” Theologies
The “Story of the Fathers”: Its Importance Outside Europe
A Return to Europe
Part Two. Reading the Fathers Today: The Present Tasks of Patristic Theology
8. The Church of the Fathers
The Reading of the Scriptures
Ecclesial Practices and Institutions
The Announcement of the Gospel
Unity and Diversity
9. The Stakes of Patristic Anthropology
Athens, Rome, Jerusalem
The World of Humanity
Humanity in the World
The Belonging to Christ
The Place of Ethics in the Writings of the Fathers
The Respect for Life
The Commitment of the Citizen
The Concern for the Most Vulnerable
11. The Contribution to Christology and Trinitarian Theology
The Heritage of the Twentieth Century
The Reference to Scripture
The Contribution to Philosophical Thought
The Contribution to Dogmatic Theology
12. Patristics and Ecumenism
“Orthodoxy” and “Heresy”
The Dialogue with the Churches of the Nestorian and Monophysite Traditions
The Dialogue with Orthodoxy
The Dialogue with Protestantism
13. Patristics and the Theology of Religions
The Contribution of the Patristic Renewal of the Twentieth Century
Vatican Council II and the Post-Conciliar Years
A Response to the Present Difficulties
The Fecundity of Patristics for the Theology of Religions
14. The Fathers of the Church and Christian Spirituality
Prayer, Martyrdom, a Presence in the World: The Spirituality of the First Centuries
The Journey of the Soul toward God
The Spirituality of the Fathers of the Desert
The Experience of Augustine
Epilogue: The Future of the Fathers

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