Jaeger, David-M. A. ,
Antonianum, 86/2 (2011) p. 191-194
“Apologetics” has such an unattractive sound to it in contemporary discourse. It brings to mind some wayward politician’s tearful admission of guilt, accompanied by some sort of – lawyer-vetted – “apology” (to family, friends, supporters, constituents), and “apologetics” might well sound to the reader as if it were the science of going about this. In the past, not very long ago (in terms of centuries, of course), we encounter “apology” in the sense of giving an account of oneself, one’s person, choices, deeds, in response to some broad attack on one’s character and motives. The Blessed John Henry Newman’s Apologia pro Vita Sua will come to mind instantly, in this respect. Still, while an acknowledged masterpiece of the genre, some might have seen it as betraying a slightly excessive preoccupation with one’s own image. “Might have seen,” but no longer. The late Cardinal’s beatification last year surely put an end to that! For believers in Christ, of course,“apologetics” is something altogether different; it has to do with giving an account of the hope that is in us, giving an account of the faith that sustains us, though always – at least in form – in response to those who demand it of us, who challenge us to do so, in debate with them. Its great age was in the beginnings of the Church, when the simple faith of Christians had to contend with the disdain of both politically and intellectually powerful pagan systems of thought. Later, its place was taken, to some extent, by the disputations with the remaining pockets of non-Christians within Christendom, and among Christians themselves, most memorably in the context of the political and theological rebellions against the Church in the fifteen hundreds, spilling over into the next century, and beyond, too. Latterly though, the eclipse of apologetics has seemed to go hand in hand with a profound retreat into ever more marked self-referentialism, as well as eclecticism. Rather than confronting other systems of thought head on, we appear, at least to this writer, to have settled for picking and choosing this or that element from them, which we find congenial or adaptable, and “metabolizing” it, while otherwise content to keep the whole of our own “system” out of play, as it were, basking in our own contentment with it and with ourselves. We have been enabled in this by the melting away of any vast, powerful intellectual competitors. Specifically the all but total collapse of Marxism has left us without an easily identifiable adversary against whom to hone our skills and sharpen our thought. In spite of the sporadic, partly media-driven, cameo performances of a few “neo-atheists,” the challenges to the faith today appear, on the surface, to be but a “practical atheism,” too diffuse and formless to require, or indeed to make possible or else useful, an intellectually rigorous response. Rather, “pastoralism” may seem to be the only appropriate answer; as if meeting superficiality on its own level, on the surface, may be all that there is to do. This is, however, far too superficial a view. Currents of high thought that flow deep there are, which in the end, through a series of emanations, as it were, shape the surface too. Engaging them, like the classic“apologetics” of old, is not however simply a defensive tactic or even strategy. It is also a powerful stimulus to theology itself. The case for this is made persuasively, in this number of Antonianum by our distinguished former Editor, Fr. Lluis Oviedo ofm, intellectual heavyweight of our University’s Theology Faculty, in his review article surveying the revival of the discipline of Christian Apologetics, re-emerging, he notes, in a manner fit to confront these new challenges. The gaping hole left in our midst by the particularly brutal murder, in Turkey, of our colleague and friend, Bishop Luigi Padovese ofm cap, is clearly shown by the two IN MEMORIAM items, with which this issue of Antonianum opens. We do count, and please God, will continue to have among us, other no less distinguished scholars and theologians, but none will be Luigi Padovese himself, of course. To memorialize him, and make available an “inventory” of his contributions to knowledge and the Christian life, we are honoured to print here both as extensive a “bio-bibliography” as we can, carefully prepared by his Confrère and our colleague, Fr. Paolo Martinelli ofm cap, himself a bright star in the Roman theological firmament, as well as the presentation of the volume of articles and essays edited by the same Fr. Martinelli together with another Confrère, Fr. Luca Bianchi ofm cap. There follows, again in a “section” all its own, the presentation of the second volume of the trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth, fruit of the labours of the former Professor Joseph Ratzinger become Pope Benedict XVI, the reigning Pontiff. To perform this task, reverently and sapiently, Antonianum has commissioned none other than Fr. G. Claudio Bottini ofm, the distinguished Biblical scholar who is the Director of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of Jerusalem, which is our University’s Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology, of which he is the Dean. Given all of this bibliographical riches, taken together, all other reviews - and they are quite a few that might otherwise have been included in this issue - have been transferred to this year’s third issue, which is due just as the long vacation will have ended and the new academic year will be on the cusp of taking off everywhere. This is perhaps the moment to remark on this Editor’s gratitude for the fact that the editorial nightmare of finding oneself, at some point, without sufficient worthy material to fill an issue of this academic review has never come true, and that instead, one’s problem has increasingly been the opposite one of issues overflowing with good stuff! I apologise to authors and reviewers for the re-scheduling to the September issue, and am sure than none will begrudge either the Roman Pontiff or the late Bishop Padovese the priority accorded here to their own works.
Paul Sabatier is a name no Franciscan can be unaware of. The powerful impact of his imagining St. Francis of Assisi as, in effect, a proto-Protestant, a sort of Wycliffite figure, while unconvincingly anachronistic on its face, and plainly contradicted by the known facts, gave an enormous stimulus to the far more penetrating and accurate studies of that towering modest-sized personage that have been produced ever since. In effect, it unleashed an unending torrent of such studies. Among the early responses to Sabatier was the Franciscan Order’s decision to found what has come to be the anchoring periodical publication of the empowered field of Franciscan studies, the Archivum Franciscanum Historicum. Dr. Paolo Pieraccini, now the historian of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, and a prolific historian in his own right, recounts in this issue the role of Fr. Girolamo Golubovich in the founding of Archivum, which ended with his providential removal from the project. It is called here providential, since however painful at the time, it was that which freed that indefatigable researcher to pursue his magnum opus, the Bio-Bibliography of the Holy Land and the Franciscan East, for which he is best known, and which Dr. Pieraccini is now continuing. This is the first part of a two part article. As always with Dr. Pieraccini’s work, it is not only most meticulously researched, but also a pleasure to read. Sister Mary Melone, the first woman to have now become a “stable” (i.e. tenured) Professor in the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical University “Antonianum,” publishes here the first part of her high-powered article on the mediaeval perspective on the universality of the saving activity of the Spirit, a descriptive title that does not by itself disclose the treasure trove of findings and anaylsis that the reader will find this work to be. And more will be his in the second part, to be published just after the summer. A “Chronicle” note on Professor Melone and her work is also included, in the appropriate section. It is contributed by Fr. Pietro Messa ofm, the President of our University’s school of advanced mediaeval and Franciscan studies. And I hope I may be allowed to express here my enormous personal satisfaction at seeing any “glass ceiling”, if ever there was one (words, these, added on the advice of counsel), in any sector of our faculty appointments now definitively gone. Fr. Martín Carbajo ofm, also of our theology faculty, and by now quite familiar to our readers, expands the scope of our interest in the Franciscan tradition, by applying it, not now to the study of itself, but to the key themes of “the economy and communication”. Our philosophy faculty is represented here for the first time by a young, up and coming, member, Fr. Francisco Javier Rodriguez Román ofm, an Edith Stein scholar. Phenomenology and the philosophy of law, in Adolf Reinach and Edith Stein (St. Theresia Benedicta a Cruce), all come together in this tantalizing first offering of his to Antonianum – the first of many yet to come, readers are sure to hope! A veteran contributor from our philosophy faculty, Fr. Cristóbal Solares ofm, a psychologist himself as well as a philosopher, shares here his exploration of anthropology and psychology in the work of Martin Buber. Our Essai is by Fr. Bernard Forthomme ofm, a leading intellectual of our Order’s in France, on the rediscovery of the concept of the will. His beautiful French, great erudition and easily flowing thought lend this issue a particular touch of elegance and, as always, make his offering a sheer delight to read. Our selected Chronicles and list of books received round off this issue, which offers even richer fare than usual (but then, to imitate Garrison Keillor, this is true of every issue), and is here specifically recommended as the one theological publication to take with you on your summer vacation! I am not yet done with apologies though: This issue is reaching you a little later than expected (though, I hope, still in time to be tucked in your travel bag for that seaside vacation). This is entirely my own fault, and due to an unexpected increase in my workload here in Rome, which devoured so much of the time that had earlier been reserved to preparing this issue for print; and of course being the kind of editor I am, I would not let my generous co-workers replace me completely for this purpose. It is good however to be able to presume (from infrequent analogous past occasions) that you have noticed the delay, which means that every new issue of Antonianum is indeed eagerly awaited!