- An Introduction to the History of Exegesis, vol. III: St. Augustine by Bertrand de Margerie, S.J. (review)
- The Thomist: A Speculative Quarterly Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 59, Number 3, July 1995
- pp. 506-508
- View Citation
- Additional Information
506 BOOK REVIEWS signified by bread and wine (39). Schoot sums up the concept of mysterium operative here by saying that it is "something hidden, voiced truly but inadequately , spiritually signified by the Old Testament and now fulfilled in Christ and the sacrament of the eucharist" (38). Despite the meticulous scholarship displayed in this work, students of Aquinas's theological epistemology and christology may well be struck by what seem to be gratuitous harmonizations between theology and christology (the parallel between the analogy of being and the communicationem idiomatum , making the hypostatic union paradigmatic in the naming of God), the overwhelming weight given to the signification/supposition distinction, and the seeming reduction of the principles of christology to linguistic rules. In addition, the complex and often turgid style serves to obfuscate certain important questions, such as Aquinas's understanding of Christ's esse. Is Aquinas being forced into a theological mold that he himself would not recognize ? Dominican School ofPhilosophy and Theology Berkeley, California EDWARD L. KRASEVAC, 0.P An Introduction to the History of Exegesis, vol. III: St. Augustine. By BERTRAND DE MARGERIE, S.J. Petersham, Mass.: St. Bede's Publications, 1993. Pp. xi+ 169 (paper). Unfortunately, today many scholars and general readers neglect the work of the Fathers of the Church. One often hears that the writings of the Fathers have become less relevant or less important because there has been so much progress in Scripture studies and because the Fathers did not really try to find out what the inspired writer meant to say-for they relied on allegory. St. Augustine's exegesis poses a particular difficulty in terms of its reliance on allegory. Augustine was strongly influenced by the allegorical exegesis of bishop Ambrose and recounts in his Confession.5 (VI, iv, 6) how he used to hear Ambrose teaching in his sermons, as though he were most diligently teaching a rule: "The letter kills, but the spirit gives life." Father de Margerie admits that Augustine did indeed suffer from "excessive allegorism" (126), but he insists that this is no reason to give up entirely on Augustine. Instead, with keen scholarly analysis he shows that, in spite of some defects, Augustine did in fact give us some really fine work in Scripture study. Father de Margerie stresses that according to Augustine the purpose of all Scripture is to teach love: "... the plenitude and the end of the Law and of BOOK REVIEWS 507 all the sacred Scriptures is the love ... of a Being which is to be enjoyed and of a being that can share that enjoyment with us" (20; from De Doctrina Christiana, I, xxv, 39). This love is taught even at the beginning of Scripture: "... on a subjective level, Moses wrote for the love of all men" (30). But how could this be? "It seems to us nowadays that Augustine failed to perceive adequately the progressive nature of the disclosure of religious truths by the God who revealed them" (30). Father de Margerie responds to this objection by pointing out that given the belief that Moses had been given a transient, "face to face vision of the Divine being ... and that this experience was granted him precisely in favor of the universal Church," it makes sense to assume that "the prophet and maker of the old Law received knowledge , during this vision and through divine revelation, of how future interpretation of the Law he was issuing-like that which Jesus was to issuewould extend even to enemies the love of one's neighbor" (31). Augustine was led to this view in the light of the varied interpretations being proposed in his own time for Genesis (48). Father de Margerie admits that "Augustine himself limits the scope of his theory concerning the plurality of literal meaning to a few rather exceptional verses of scripture" (65). Augustine believed, however, that Moses had received most remarkable gifts: I cannot think that Moses Your most faithful servant was given by you lesser gifts than I should have wished and longed to have for myself if I had been born at the same time as he.... I should have wished that you would grant me such a skill in...