Transforming Catholic Tradition
278 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Hardcover | 9780268104771 | November 2018
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268104795 | November 2018
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268104801 | November 2018
During the past few decades there has been renewed interest in the twentieth-century French Catholic philosopher Maurice Blondel (1861–1949) and his influence on modern and contemporary theology, but little scholarship has been published in the English-speaking world. In Maurice Blondel: Transforming Catholic Tradition, Robert Koerpel examines Blondel’s work, the historical and theological development of the idea of tradition in modern Catholicism, tradition’s relation to reason and revelation, and Blondel's influence on Catholicism's understanding of tradition. The book presents aspects of Blondel's thought that deserve to be more widely known and contributes to important debates in current theology on modern French Catholic thought and the emerging conversations surrounding them. Koerpel looks to the cultural context from which Blondel’s thought emerges by situating it within the broader conceptual, historical, and theological developments of modernity. He examines the problem of reason and revelation in modern Catholicism, the role and nature of tradition, and the relationships between theology and history, truth and change, nature and grace, and scripture and the development of doctrine.
This book provides readers with an appreciation of Blondel’s conceptually creative answer to how tradition represents the Word of God in human history and why it is one of his most important contributions to modern and contemporary theology. They will discover how his contribution restores the animated vitality between the institutional and liturgical dimensions of tradition essential to the living, dynamic nature of Catholicism.
Robert C. Koerpel is adjunct professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas. He is co-editor of Contemplating the Future of Moral Theology.
"Robert Koerpel convincingly reinterprets Blondel's philosophy of action through the lens of tradition as we find it in History and Dogma (1904). Emphasizing the role of liturgical and sacramental practice in the life of action, and in dialogue with hermeneutical philosophers and theologians on tradition, Koerpel brings his timely rereading of Blondel to bear on a cluster of issues revolving around critical history and the church. In Koerpel's hands, Blondel becomes 'a living voice that still speaks to us today.' A major contribution to contemporary Catholic thought." —William L. Portier, Mary Ann Spearin Chair in Catholic Theology, University of Dayton
"If tradition sacramentally represents the presence of God, then it is the church's liturgical action to which we must turn for the faithful expression of Christian doctrine in history. Such is Koerpel’s interpretation of Maurice Blondel’s treatment of tradition. Carefully situating the French philosopher’s thought against the backdrop of institutionalized and juridicized treatments of tradition in modernity, Koerpel issues an unambiguously Blondelian call to liturgical action." —Hans Boersma, J. I. Packer Professor of Theology, Regent College
"I am not aware of any other scholarly study that achieves what Robert Koerpel's book does regarding Maurice Blondel's contribution to the renewed understanding of tradition in Catholic thought, set out in historical context. This is an erudite, demanding study that will be of interest to graduate students and scholars." —Peter Bernardi, S.J., Loyola University Chicago
"This book belongs to the genre of 'classical' work of unshowy, brilliant history of doctrine. It gives a clear, unpretentious account of Blondel’s context in late nineteenth-century France. That is hard to come by in itself, but Robert Koerpel succeeds in giving a clear and unpretentious account of Blondel’s own thought—which is accomplished all too rarely. It draws deeply on church history, and it’s not fanciful or constructive in the bad sense, but it is driven by a kind of ‘design impulse,' using MacIntyre’s notion of an 'imaginative conceptual innovation' to explain the value of Blondel’s rethinking of the idea of tradition.” —Francesca Murphy, University of Notre Dame
“This book offers a compelling read for philosophers, historians, and theologians, as the text is a thoroughly researched and clearly expressed account of tradition that casts modern notions of subjectivity, individualism, and the question of human knowledge to their limit.” —Reading Religion
“What moves this book from the category of 'historically informative' to 'speculatively provocative' is the fact that Robert Koerpel shifts at every step from Blondel’s content and context to his own reflections that allow Blondel’s voice to echo across the twentieth century until today.” —Theological Studies
"Koerpel’s early chapters on the development of Blondel’s philosophical and theological ideas, as well as the contextualization of those ideas in the Christian heritage and Blondel’s contemporary milieu, are deeply instructive." —Catholic Library World
"Robert Koerpel . . . seeks in his slender but densely written book to elevate this mostly ignored thinker to his proper place in the history of Catholic theology." —Commonweal
"Koerpel strikes a very good balance between careful exposition and constructive engagement, introducing Blondel with clarity to an English-speaking audience, for whom Blondel still remains all-too peripheral." —Journal of Biblical and Theological Studies