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698 BOOK REVIEWS Pelagianism. The argumentation seems to be judicious except for the proposition that his ascetical writings argue against the Pelagian accusation (pp. 85-87). After all, Pelagius was a moralist inclined towards extreme asceticism as an expression of human action. The two chapters which follow treat the questions of syncretism and universalism-here Craven examines Pico's relationship to the Cabbalaand rationalism and gnosticism. Do the texts support the theologicalphilosophical system ascribed to Pico 7 Is his alleged tendency towards pantheism not simply a reprise of neoplatonic participation7 Here there may be " a clear case where the assertion of originality rests on ignorance of what was traditional" (111). Craven therefore invites his reader to return to the texts themselves and to an understanding of the thought of the period, and to go beyond the sometimes almost lurid interpretations of Pico which historians have presented. Such an interpretation might render him "surprisingly unremarkable ,'' a victim of his commentators' anachronistic expectations. So arguing concerning Pica's attack on astrology, which is not really connected with human free will, the author pronounces his " martyrdom at the hand of historians" (p. 164). He consequently asks us to pay greater attention to Pica's texts, something which requires a certain intellectual asceticism. But he raises above all the hermeneutical problem of history. Asking "that Pico should be allowed to be himself" (p. 162) is perhaps calling for what we can never fully achieve. Still, we should try. GUY BEDOUELLE, O.P. Albertinum Fribourg, Switzerland Newman and the Gospel of Christ. By RODERICK STRANGE. Oxford University Press: 1981. Pp. 179. $39.00. Newman never wrote a systematic Christology. Consequently, the Cardinal's interpretation of the history and significance of the Church's Christological doctrine must be derived from his sermons, lectures, essays, letters, books, and tracts. Father Roderick Strange has diligently sifted these many sources to provide a useful summary of Newman's writings on Christ. Strange's book, which was originally presented as an Oxford doctoral thesis (under the direction of the late eminent Newmanist, Father Stephen Dessain) is organized topically. There are chapters which treat of the divinity and psychology of Christ, and of the doctrines of the incarnation , atonement, and i·edemption. Sandwiching these theological themes are the opening ·and closing chapters which raise and repudiate BOOK REVIEWS 699 the charge of Newman's contemporary, Thomas Arnold: that Newman neglected the person of Christ in favor of an " idolatrous " concentration on the Church, the sacraments, and the apostolic ministry. Newman, Strange has little difficulty in showing, emerges unscathed from Arnold's obtuse polemic against the Tractarians. Nonetheless, it remains difficult to assess the actual theological character of Newman's conception of Christ. A summary of his opinions and arguments , or a miscellany of texts drawn from his various writings, leaves unanswered the question whether Newman's Christology possesses an underlying historical or conceptual unity. In attempting to answer this question, which is forced on him by the method of his own study, Strange turns to Newman himself for help. In the Grammar of Assent, Newman described the Athanasian Creed as the "most simple and sublime, the most devotional formulary to which Christianity has given birth ". Strange argues that Newman's Christology was remarkably consistent throughout the fifty years of his writing career because Newman followed the lead of the Fathers, especially Athanasius. At an obvious level, Strange's thesis is plausible. Newman was not a metaphysician, nor was his Christology developed within the context of an explicit metaphysics. Rather, Newman was an astute historian, devoutly interested in the Christology that emerged from the great Pat.ristic controversies. Newman, however, was not an antiquarian merely interested m historical controversies; he firmly held that the orthodox doctrines of the Fathers were theologically normative and religiously salutary for his own period. Against the anti-dogmatic biases, shared alike by the liberals and the evangelicals, Newman defended the necessity of the Church's doctrine. This defense of the doctrinal patrimony of the Church derived naturally enough from Newman's first important historical study, written in 1833, The Arians of the Fourth Century. Newman's exceptional awareness of the historical factors involved in doctrinal development is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 698-701
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-15
Open Access
No
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