Matthias Joseph Scheeben’s masterful Handbook of Catholic Dogmatics: Book One: Theological Epistemology, Part Two: Theological Knowledge Considered in Itself, translated by Michael J. Miller, concludes the first book of Scheeben’s magnum opus.
In Book One, Part Two, readers will find Scheeben’s examination of faith, the subjective principle of theological knowledge. In exact yet beautiful prose, he moves from the study of human belief to supernatural faith, while preserving the reasonableness, freedom, and certainty that accompany faith.
Maintaining theology is indeed a “sacred science,” Scheeben treats the understanding of faith by demonstrating human reason’s relationship to the deposit of faith. He concludes this work by shedding light on the subject of dogmatic theology itself, recounting its history from the Patristic era to his own time.
“Completing the first English edition of Matthias Joseph Scheeben’s Handbook of Catholic Theology, this eagerly expected volume comprises an extraordinarily rich and profound treatment of the nature of the Christian faith as well as of sacred theology and its history from the patristic period to the nineteenth century. This volume is a must-read for theologians, priests, graduate students, seminarians, and—indeed— bishops who, suffering under a spiritually desiccated and intellectually vacuous climate desire to drink from the water hose and thereby rediscover the full scope of Catholic theology in a state of full flowering. Scheeben’s exceptionally rich and deeply rewarding theology of faith is alone worth the price of the book.”
Reinhard Hütter, The Catholic University of America
MATTHIAS JOSEPH SCHEEBEN (1835–1888) was a German priest and scholar whose theology points to the inner coherence of the Christian faith and its supernatural mysteries. Notable in his own time, Scheeben later received praise from Pope Pius XI, who in 1935 encouraged study of the late theologian’s works, reflecting: “The entire theology of Scheeben bears the stamp of a pious ascetical theology.” Hans Urs von Balthasar credited Scheeben as “the greatest German theologian to date.” Scheeben’s works include Nature and Grace, The Mysteries of Christianity, and the unfinished Handbook of Catholic Dogmatics.
“Scheeben completes Book I of his Dogmatics with a sustained reflection on Christian faith as a supernatural gift, and on Catholic theology as a rigorous understanding of what faith is given to believe. Developing the ideas of a wide range of Church Fathers, medieval doctors, and modern scholastics, Scheeben shows that faith is not an uncertain opinion, still less a mere feeling, but a genuine act of knowledge—the highest and best knowledge of which we are capable in this life.”
Bruce D. Marshall, Southern Methodist University
“What is faith? What is theological knowledge? At a time when both faith and theology are often seen as rooted in the disciples’ experience of a liberating leader, who died for the liberation of his oppressed people but who failed to reveal truth about God, salvation, and human destiny, Scheeben’s voice is one that needs hearing. He calls us to the urgent task of re-learning how to affirm the truth of Catholic faith.”
Matthew Levering, Mundelein Seminary
“Scheeben offers us a classic of post-Vatican I theology. His analysis of faith conveys rigor, detail, and scholastic complexity, while communicating spiritual verve and depth.”
Joseph G. Mueller, S.J., Marquette University