Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reviewing a Classic.

(Yves Congar with a young Joseph Ratzinger)

It is always a pleasure reading Yves Congar.1 One such pleasure was re-reading his classical writing on the meaning of tradition within the Catholic Church.2

Congar is easily one of Catholicism's greatest 20th century (conservative thinkers).3 His mastery of the primary writings and familiarity with the intricacies of the philosophical questions involving the perceived crux between Scripture and the Church's unwritten tradition is unmatched to this very day. His work La Tradition et la vie de l'Eglise, is the most succinct and powerful treatment on the issue of tradition I have ever read.4

What Congar is most apt at demonstrating is the philosophical underpinnings of a given subject. So in this work he manages to explain the crucial relationship between Scripture and the unwritten traditions of the Church, or in other words, why Scripture needs the interpretative lens of tradition for a correct hermeneutical reading.

Highly recommended reading.


1 Yves Congar was a French Dominican Cardinal, considered by many the greatest Ecclesiologist of all time (Avery Dulles). Was at one time held a P.O.W by Germans for five years as he served the role of Catholic chaplain for the French. He influenced many Catholic thinkers, such as Karol Wojtyla, etc.

2 La Tradition et la vie de l'Eglise (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1964). English edition is, The Meaning of Tradition (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2004).

3 Compare the utter mastery of the primary writings (patrology) and the sane treatment of the origins of the Church in Congar's double volume Ecclesiological magnum opus, La Tradition et les traditions: Essai historique (1960); Essai theologique (1963. Paris: Fayard), with the bleak and critical treatment of much of the same ground in say for example, Richard P. McBrien, The Church: The Evolution of Catholicism (New York: Harper One, 2008), which was done in memory of Congar.

4 Nothing in today's American (popular) Catholic scene even comes close. Avery Dulles would be America's closest example, cf. his Magisterium: Teacher and Guardian of the Faith (Naples, Florida: Sapientia Press, 2007).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love the picture (and your new sidebar)!