The Importance of Matthias Scheeben to Catholic Scholarship


Most people are familiar with Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, two of the most important Catholic theologians and leaders of the twentieth century. But less well-known is the nineteenth-century theologian who had a profound impact on the work of both these great thinkers: Fr. Matthias Joseph Scheeben 

Dr. Scott Hahn was blessed to meet both these Pontiffs, and with both he had the opportunity to speak of the great work of this little-known German theologian. Dr. Hahn, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI could each clearly see the importance of bringing his brilliant contributions to the forefront. Scheeben’s work was ordered by the idea of nuptial unity. He applied the metaphor of the profound bond between husband and wife to all the sacred mysteries—an approach that shaped Saint John Paul II’s own theology, especially his Theology of the Body. It was also an approach that clearly synthesized the Old and New Testaments and revealed how God’s covenantal plan for salvation is the underpinning of all divine revelation and the dogmas stemming from it. 

Despite his incredible impact, very little of Scheeben’s work has ever been translated into English. In fact, almost none of his major works have been translated from their original German. For a theologian who has been so greatly influential to contemporary theological studies, it is a tragedy that so few know of his work.  

In answer to this need, Emmaus Academic has undertaken a new unabridged English translation of Scheeben’s seven-volume Handbook of Catholic Dogmatics. Translated by the preeminent theological translator Michael J. Miller, these volumes will finally provide a new generation with the treasure of studying Scheeben’s brilliant theology. 

This project is particularly exciting for us at the St. Paul Center. Not only has Scheeben had a personal impact on Dr. Hahn and his work, but Scheeben’s ability to show God’s nuptial plan in Scripture and Tradition is uniquely in line with our own mission to promote biblical literacy for the laity and biblical fluency for priests and teachers. 

We’re thrilled to announce that the first fruits of our labor are already apparent. In the past year, we have already published three installments of Scheeben's Handbook of Catholic Dogmatics.

We’re proud to share in this undertaking with a multitude of scholars and benefactors who recognize the great need for a translation of Scheeben. Because of their passionate interest in this project, many people have stepped forward to help us complete this monumental task. It is because of you that we were able to turn our dream into a reality. Thank you for helping a new generation of Catholics study one of the most important contemporary theologians.  

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“To Matthias Joseph Scheeben we owe the most valuable work of Catholic dogmatic theology in modern times, a priceless combination of deep love for the mysteries of the Catholic faith, profound learning, and speculative genius.”

—Bruce D. Marshall, Southern Methodist University