Mike Aquilina

Not Knots for Naught

Friday October 19th 2007, 11:17 am

As you’ve probably noticed, I’m pretty excited about the arrival of the third volume of Letter & Spirit, our annual academic journal from the St. Paul Center. This issue includes rich studies of the Fathers. Yesterday I mentioned Gary Anderson’s use of the Syriac Fathers to explain the idea of the “treasury of merit” in early Judaism and Christianity. Earlier in the same volume we find an important argument from the celebrated Cardinal-theologian Avery Dulles. Here’s Scott Hahn’s take:

Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., explores one of the knottiest questions in exegesis and biblical theology—the meaning of “the kingdom of God” in the preaching of Christ. “The Church and the Kingdom: A Study of their Relationship in Scripture, Tradition, and Evangelization,” is a fine study of this question in light of the “great tradition,” exploring the biblical, patristic, scholastic, dogmatic, and magisterial record. Indeed, he shows that serious distortions arise when the question is considered apart from the tradition. This article has implications not only for theology and exegesis, but also for ecumenical dialogue and for understanding the Church’s evangelical mission in a pluralistic world.

To those of you who are reading aloud to your friends and co-workers: please note that the essay addresses one of the “knottiest questions” and not the naughtiest. In fact, Augustine applied a good deal of his remarkably pure intellect to the question. Cardinal Dulles ponders Augustine’s reflections, as well as those of Origen, Cyprian, and Gregory the Great.

The third volume of Letter & Spirit is part of the veritable kingdom inherited by each and every person who attends our Letter & Spirit conference next week. Every registered attendee gets a copy. Hope to see you there!