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Matthias Joseph Scheeben
Handbook of Catholic Dogmatics
In Handbook of Catholic Dogmatics, Book V, Soteriology Part 1 Matthias Joseph Scheeben delineates who and what Jesus Christ is as the Incarnate Son of God in Person. With characteristic brilliance, Scheeben sets forth in this first half-volume the essential nature and attributes proper to Christ as the hypostatic union of God and man. Beginning with the Scriptural and traditional foundations, he elucidates the Catholic Church’s traditional teaching on Christ’s unity of Person in two natures as they were developed in response to the main Christological heresies of the early Christian centuries. On this basis, he then delves into the speculative depths of the hypostatic union itself as well as the attributes of the God-man that arise from this union.
“[T]he translation of the Handbook of Catholic Dogmatics by the greatest speculative theologian of the nineteenth century into the modern lingua franca is an invaluable service to the future of the Church in the secular age. With his speculative penetration of the mystery of the Incarnation in the present volume—enriched by a comprehensive knowledge of patristic, scholastic, and modern theology—Matthias Joseph Scheeben preserves the mystery of Divine Revelation from attempts to naturalize it and the Church from the tendency to reduce it to a merely functional civil religion. He proves that even on the highest level of rational reflection the believer can give to modern man an account for ‘the hope that is in him’ (cf. 1 Pet 3:15), which puts us in a position to clarify definitively our understanding of ourselves and of the world in light of the knowledge of God.”
—Cardinal Gerhard Müller—
Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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.
“A landmark study . . . This book is undoubtedly one of the most important works of Christology composed by a Christian theologian in the modern era. Scheeben points us toward the integral unity of theology. In the sweep of his reflection, he is able simultaneously to engage delicate questions of scriptural interpretation, conduct rigorous patristic and conciliar exegesis, and offer profound ontological perspectives on the mystery of Christ in light of highly relevant scholastic disputes. He treats in robust depth a number of the most challenging topics in Christology: the motives of the incarnation, the hypostatic union, the relation of the two natures, body-soul composition in Christ, the communication of idioms, grace and headship of the man Jesus, and the Christological foundations of Mariology. This is a work every aspiring theologian should read.”
—Thomas Joseph White, O.P.—
Pontifical University of St. Thomas
“Matthias Scheeben’s Dogmatics is one of the most rich and intoxicating vintages of nineteenth century Catholic learning. In Michael Miller’s wonderful translation Scheeben’s master work can take its rightful place as one of the very best modern introductions to Catholic teaching. In this volume Scheeben bores down into the mysteries of Christ’s person, ever attentive to the complex resources of the Church’s tradition, and constantly mindful of the centrality of this doctrinal nexus to the broader mystery of how the Father restores the creation in and through the Incarnate Son.”
Durham University & Australian Catholic University
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