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BOOK REVIEWS 365 an unattainable historical goal seems to offer not hope but only frustration for those who pursue it. Hodgson's suggestion that humans find momentary satisfaction in the partial attainment of the goal (128) can only be reminiscent of the consolation a Sisyphus might find in the partial achievement of his ultimately hopeless task. In effect, Hodgson's eschatology is hardly a human affair at all. Human action in history has no connection with or effect upon its realization (197). Whether personal human identity is preserved in " the ultimate consummation of all things in God " remains at best an ambiguous question in Hodg· son's thought (129, 250-1). The consummation itself concerns God rather than humanity: "The final comedy is the divine comedy, not a human comedy " (129) . Hodgson presents a meticulously researched and carefully written argument. He is to be congratulated for so clearly and forcefully formulating the challenge that faces theology in these last years of the twen· tieth century. Yet the very clarity with which his conclusions-themselves so foreign to the Christian tradition-proceed from his premises invites the reader to question whether the philosophy of Hegel can ac· tually provide an adequate or appropriate starting point for the work of Christian theology. Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology Graduate Theological Union Berkeley, California MICHAEL J. DODDS, 0.P. Patience and Power: Grace for the First World. By JEAN-MARC LAPORTE, S.J. New York: Paulist Press, 1988. Pp. iv + 297. $14.95. Jean-Marc Laporte, professor of systematic theology at Regis College in the Toronto School of Theology has previously published Les strztctures dynamiques de la grace: grace medicinale et grace elevante d'apres Thomas d'Aquin (Montreal: Editions Bellarmin, 1974), a work based on his doctoral dissertation at the University of Strasbourg. Patience and Power draws on his earlier study of Aquinas but ranges more widely in the theological tradition and in contemporary analyses of modern society to provide a thought-provoking interpretation of the doctrine of grace for 20th century Western culture. The book is replete with diagrams, designed to demonstrate structural affinities among various factors relevant to theological reflection on grace. BOOK REVIEWS Opening chapters offer an initial account of the current separation of the human race into First (Western European; North American), Second (Eastern European), and Third (Southern) Worlds and suggest a structural affinity between these contemporary cultural and economic divisions and the historical development of Western, Eastern, and Southern Churches. With an eye toward constructing a theology of grace attuned to the problems and needs of the First World, especially Canada and the United States, Laporte then provides a capsule analysis of the history of Christian thought on grace. A line of thought running from Paul through Augustine stresses the healing function of grace as forgiveness of sin and accents the incompleteness of the gift already received . In contrast to this approach, which became typical of Western theology, a trajectory extending from John through the Eastern Fathers emphasized the elevating function of grace as conferral, even in this world, of participation in the life of God. Thomas Aquinas, more familiar with Aristotle and more adept systematically than his predecessors , sought with considerable success to integrate Eastern and Western perspective on grace into a comprehensive theological vision. Underappreciated in its own day, the Thomistic synthesis proved short-lived. In the late Middle Ages, movements in the direction of voluntarism and nominalism reified and quantified the understanding of grace and thus unwittingly paved the way for the 16th breakdown in the unity of Western Christendom and for the sterile debates on grace characteristic of the following centuries. Only in our own time has the rich heritage of the authentic Western tradition begun to he retrieved, as historical spadework has prepared the ground for new and deeper theological conceptions. Recognition of Christianity's need for personal categories, for concepts drawn from specifically human existence , is essential if this undertaking is to hear fruit; the anthropocentric (as .distinguished from cosmocentric) thought-form which Johann Baptist Metz has rightly identified in Aquinas must become a more explicit element of contemporary Western Christian thought. This analysis of the history of the doctrine of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 365-368
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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