Die Gnade vollendeter Endlichkeit: Zur transzendentaltheologischen Auslegung der thomanischen Anthropologie by Richard Schenk, O.P. (review)
- The Thomist: A Speculative Quarterly Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 57, Number 2, April 1993
- pp. 321-323
- View Citation
- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS 321 metaphysical conclusions: " It was assumed by the medieval theists •.• that there is something inherently inferior about the temporal compared with the timeless. Being temporal was an infliction, a sort of body odor from which everything of this world reeked. For a complex set of reasons, some psychological having to do with the fear of death and decay, others socioeconomic concerning their disdain for the inferior class of people who were forced to manipulate changing objects, they assumed that true being must he found in what is immutable . . ." (p. 54). Gale's hook is quite thorough in its review of the relevant literature of contemporary analytical philosophers on the existence of God and affords a rich feast for anyone looking for an almost boundless supply of carefully fashioned logical arguments questioning the conclusions of those who have used analytic philosopy to defend theistic tenets. For philosophers hungering for a truly insightful contemporary approach to the question of God's existence and nature, however, the hook provides hut meager fare. Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology Berkeley, California MICHAEL J. DODDS, 0.P. Die Gnade vollendeter Endlichkeit: Zur transzendentaltheologischen Auslegung der thomanischen Anthropologie. By RICHARD SCHENK, O.P. Freihurg: Herder, 1989. Pp. 638. 98 DM. The title of this hook, which could he rendered into English as, roughly, The Grace of Perfect Imperfection, could strike one as ironic, and yet it intrigues by promising a new way of looking at a fundamental anthropological problem. The hook delivers on this promise hut, in so doing, creates difficulties for the reviewer. For this new way of looking is so thoroughly grounded in the history of philosophy and theology, its scope is so broad, its implications so profound that it demands a greater arena than a hook review to do it justice. There· fore, I will content myself with introducing its structure and content as well as indicating to whom this hook may appeal. The work is the doctoral dissertation of Schenk, done at the University of Munich. It is an attempt to develop an historically grounded, yet transcendental interpretation of Thomistic anthropology which avoids the experiential supernaturalism of Karl Rahner's theology. Schenk demonstrates the possibility of an alternative reading by developing the differences between Heidegger and Rahner in their respec· 322 BOOK REVIEWS tive notions of transcendence. These three, Thomas, Heidegger and Rahner, are the chief discussion partners for Schenk, although the foot· notes and bibliography reveal a familiarity with the secondary literature that is breathtaking. The first chapter is Schenk's exploration of twelve antitheses. Its purpose seems more negative than positive in that it prevents the reader from simply categorizing Schenk's work and interpretation as either " history " or a " new interpretation," as either " perennial " or " contemporary ", to mention just two of the antitheses. The second chapter is the longest, most difficult and, from a systematic viewpoint, most important of the work. Schenk lays out the alternative views, stemming from Porphyry's and Proclus' schools of Neoplatonism respectively, of the theodicy problematics, which were available to Thomas in constructing his anthropology. Schenk's choice of the theodicy problem as a focus is particularly fruitful, since it allows him to show how all of the fundamental theological anthropological issues, such as nature and grace, death, epistemology and freedom are involved and affected. The fundamental question can he formullated thus: Is the perfection of the human being accomplished in his or her own subjectivity or in its being surmounted? It is also here that Schenk's work shows its power in areas beyond the merely speculative. His concentration on the theodicy problem brings an almost " pastoral " side to the work, in that it seeks to avoid easy answers to the difficult question of why God allows human suffering . This question is not put aside by the Gospel hut made more pointed. Thomas seeks to follow and enhance what went before him (and here we have moved into the third chapter) by not functionalizing suffering and yet maintaining the call of the individual to salvation . It is precisely in this place, in this antinomy between the pri· mordial hope for perfection and the equally primordial doubt of ever attaining it, that...