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Patristics and Catholic Social Thought

Hermeneutical Models for a Dialogue

Brian Matz

Publication Year: 2014

In Patristics and Catholic Social Thought: Hermeneutical Models for a Dialogue, Brian Matz argues that scholars and proponents of the modern Catholic social tradition can gain from the use of ancient texts for contemporary socioethical formation. Although it is impossible to expect a one-to-one correspondence between the social ideas of early church theologians, such as Augustine, and those of modern Catholic social thought, this book offers four hermeneutical models that will facilitate a fruitful dialogue between the two worlds. The result is a challenge to modern Christian ethicists to think more deeply about their work in light of the perspective of those who trod a similar path centuries ago. Matz first examines an "authorial intent" hermeneutical model, as articulated in the philosophies of Friedrich Schleiermacher and Wilhelm Dilthey. The second is a "distanciation" model, relying on the thought of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur. The third is a "normativity of the future" model, so named by its proponents, Reimund Bieringer and Mary Elsbernd. The fourth is a "new Intellectual history" model, which relies on contemporary literary-critical theories. In a series of case studies, Matz applies each model to two early Christian sermons on the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man and, in so doing, illustrates that each one draws out different social ideas. Although each model ultimately bears fruit for Catholic social thought today, Matz concludes that the "normativity of the future" model is the one best suited to a productive use of early Christian texts in contemporary Catholic social thought.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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Preface, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

A work of this scale could not have come together without the participation and contribution of others. This study is the third of four volumes to be published from a research project directed by the Centre for Catholic Social Thought based at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. ...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xiii-xiv

List of Tables

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pp. xv-xvi

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pp. 1-6

Ever tried to place one ball on top of another? How about three balls, one on top of the other? Nearly impossible. This study attempts just such a feat in what some have deemed, well, if not altogether impossible, perhaps rather unnecessary or even inappropriate. ...

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Chapter 1: Patristic Sources and Catholic Social Teaching

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pp. 7-31

Deus Caritas Est (promulgated 2005; hereafter, DCE) set a new record for the penetration of patristic source materials into the fabric of a social encyclical. Of the encyclical’s roughly 13,000 words, 1,030 of them (8 percent) are devoted to one patristic source or another. No other document of Catholic social teaching (CST) comes close (cf. table 3 below).1 ...

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Chapter 2: Themes in Patristic Social Thought

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pp. 32-57

To this point, it has been argued that CST has an interest in incorporating patristic social thought into its mix of variables. It has also been shown that CST has had difficulty joining its message to that of patristic socioethical texts. Moreover, it was suggested that much of this problem is due to the difficulty of applying a text from so foreign a context as the world of late antiquity to the world we inhabit. ...

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Chapter 3: An “Authorial Intent” Model

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pp. 58-94

To this point, it has been argued that Christian social thought has an interest in incorporating patristic social thought into its mix of variables. It has also been argued that Catholic social teaching, one part of the Christian social thought spectrum, has had difficulty joining its message to that of patristic socioethical texts. ...

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Chapter 4: A “Distanciation” Model

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pp. 95-121

The previous chapter both introduced the two case study texts for this book and applied to them an “authorial intent” model of interpretation. The chapter also teased out the contributions of these texts’ socioethical ideas to Christian social thought in our day, chief among them being a renewed concern among individuals for those with needs in our societies. ...

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Chapter 5: A “Normativity of the Future” Model

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pp. 122-140

In the introduction, this study tipped its hat toward the model that is the focus of this chapter, so it would not be inappropriate to remind the reader here that this study argues that this model holds significant potential for reading patristic socioethical texts in light of the contemporary concerns of Christian social thought. ...

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Chapter 6: A “ New Intellectual History” Model

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pp. 141-159

In the preceding chapters, we have completed a review of three hermeneutical models. Each model has emphasized something different: authorial intent, distanciation, and the future that a text projects. In this chapter we turn to our fourth and final model. This model has been variously described as postmodern, literary, poststructural, and deconstructionist, among others, ...

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pp. 160-175

According to Paul Hanson, there are three levels to revolutionary breakthroughs in social thought within a culture: (1) worldview, (2) laws/institutions, and (3) practice (or daily life). In reference to the stories of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, Hanson wrote, ...

Appendix 1. Asterius of Amasea’s Homily 1

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pp. 176-184

Appendix 2. Jerome’s Homily 86

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pp. 185-193


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pp. 194-250


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pp. 251-290

Index of Scriptural Passages

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pp. 291-292

Index of Early Christian Sources

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pp. 293-295

E-ISBN-13: 9780268086930
E-ISBN-10: 0268086931
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268035310
Print-ISBN-10: 0268035318

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: NA
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 882262372
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Patristics and Catholic Social Thought

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Christian sociology -- Catholic Church -- History of doctrines -- Early church, ca. 30-600.
  • Fathers of the church.
  • Christian literature, Early -- History and criticism.
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