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BOOK REVIEWS Jean-F. Bonnefoy, O. F. M. La Primauté du Christ selon l'Ecriture et la Tradition Rome : Herder, 1959 xii P 467 pp. $ 8,00 Christianity is by definition Christocentric. Christ is its Alpha and Omega, the Center of its philosophy, its theology, and its life. All this is implied in virtually every page of Scripture; so well was it understood by ancient and medieval Christians that there was no need even to formulate an explicit teaching on the "place of Christ in the divine plan." But in the Twelfth Century, Robert of Dietz raised the question of whether Christ would have existed at all if it were not for Adam's sin. Other Scholastics treated the question too, and with few exceptions (e. g., St. Albert the Great) they answered it in the negative, basing their teaching on St. Augustine's famous dictum that where there is no illness no physician is needed. Duns Scotus was the first important theologian to see that St. Augustine 's answer applied strictly to the Redemption, rather than to the Incarnation simpliciter (for Christ is no mere physician) . When the Subtle Doctor explained that de facto God thought first of the God-Man, who would give Him a perfect return for His love, he envisioned not a useless and shaky hypothesis of a sinless world, but the vital and firm fact of a world containing the God-Man as well as sinful men. After all, it is not particularly important or enlightening to know what God would have done, but it is very important and enlightening to know what He has actually done. Not until recently, however, was Scotus' reversal of the question fully appreciated; only with the brilliant work of such scholars as M. J. Scheeben and E. Mersch, S. J., have theologians come to see the value of the primacy of Christ as a proximate unifying principle of Catholic theology—¦one which may revitalize its entire structure. Few, if any, theologians of our times have done more to develop and propagate this Scotistic teaching than Fr. Jean-F. Bonnefoy, O.F.M. (1897— 1958). In fact, his greatest contribution to its cause may have been to show that it is not a mere Scotistic teaching, but, in the words of Fr. H. M. Féret, O.P., "a datum of faith, prior to any particular theology and imposing itself on it." Fr. Bonnefoy spent a good deal of time teaching Sacred Scripture, but early in his priestly career his mind was captivated by the more speculative doctrine of the Primacy of Christ ; Bishop Socche has with good reason called this doctrine the "passion" of Fr. Bonnefoy's life. It was eminently fitting, 149 150Book Reviews then, that this, the last work of the French theologian, is basically scriptural, but enriched with the nature and solid speculation of an internationally known scholar. Indeed, the experience gained from his years of teaching, from attending several major theological conventions, and from writing a good many articles on the subject has made Fr. Bonnefoy uniquely qualified to write this work, which should almost certainly replace Fr. Risi's four-volume synthesis, SuI motivo primario dell'Incamazione (Rome: 1898), both as an authoritative exegetical work and as a doctrinal exposition of the primacy of Christ. La Primauté du Christ is not a book that can be evaluated in globo, for it is made up of three parts which are quite distinct in subject matter, in method, and in probative force. It may be well, first of all, for us to state exactly what Fr. Bonnefoy understands by the "primacy of Christ." By this expression, he means Christ's priority in the order of divine intentions and its immediate corollary, His universal secondary efficient, exemplary, and final causality vis-à-vis all creation excluding His own human nature. The author explains this primacy on the basis of the Old Testament (Part I) and the New Testament (Part II). The third part of the book is a systematic synthesis of the subject comprising the conclusions of the first two parts and many obiter dicta which could not be included in the line-by-line exegesis of the...


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