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66 Antiphon 16.1 (2012) Jürgen Mettepenningen Nouvelle Théologie – New Theology: Inheritor of Modernism, Precursor of Vatican II New York: T&T Clark, 2010 xv + 218. Paperback. $34.95. Theology, like many academic disciplines, has a short memory. The writings of one generation are forgotten as newer academics make their mark in the field. Although no theologian worth his or her terminal degree would claim to be unfamiliar with the Dominicans Yves Congar and Edward Schillebeeckx, or the Jesuit Henri de Lubac, few remember precisely what was at stake in the ressourcement of these so-called “new theologians.” For this reason, Jürgen Mettepenningen’s historical account of nouvelle théologie from 1935 up to the Second Vatican Council is a pivotal contribution to present-day theological study of this era. While careful to note that both Congar and de Lubac were hesitant to embrace the moniker of “new theologian,” Mettepenningen locates four characteristics (chapter one) and phases (chapter three) of the movement. First, nouvelle théologie began as a francophone phenomenon (9), a fact that might have contributed to the movement’s chilly reception by Roman authorities still concerned with French theological Modernism. Second, the movement sought to engage in historical inquiry as a feature of all theology, a consequence of the Incarnation (10). Third, and perhaps most influential for contemporary theological education, the “new theologians” desired a union between speculative and positive theology, and for this reason returned to the sources of Christian faith in the Bible, the liturgy, and the Church Fathers (11). Fourth, Mettepenningen notes that nouvelle théologie was critical toward neo-scholasticism, since “the conceptual system took pride of place to the relationship between theology, faith and life” (11). Following a short second chapter in which Mettepenningen acknowledges the theological foundations of nouvelle théologie in the Tübinger Schule, John Henry Newman, the First Vatican Council, and the late nineteenth century modernist movement, the author sets out the phases of the movement. In the first phase, the French Dominicans (such as Congar and Marie-Dominique Chenu) “reacted against neo-scholasticism by insisting on a return to the historical Thomas…” (33). In the second, led primarily by the French Jesuits including de Lubac, Henri Bouillard, and Jean Daniélou, a more thorough return to the sources followed. Theologians such as Daniélou “insisted that a return to the Bible, liturgy and patristics was to be preferred above a theology that owed its existence to a single medieval theologian” 67 Book Reviews (34). In the third phase, the movement grew to have an influence upon non-francophone theologians including Edward Schillebeeckx, Karl Rahner, and Hans Urs von Balthasar (36). Finally, in the fourth phase, the insights of nouvelle théologie were incorporated into the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (36). The remainder of the book unfolds the first three phases by attending to the major players within each stage, with particular attention to primary sources in their original language. The benefits of Mettepenningen’s approach are threefold. First, typical accounts of nouvelle théologie generally include only the bestknown figures of the era. By widening the scope of his inquiry to less familiar figures such as Louis Charlier, René Draguet, and Henri Bouillard, Mettepenningen presents a more nuanced account of the theological method known as nouvelle théologie. Second, this broader scope also allows the author to discern the essence of the movement. In the conclusion to the text, Mettepenningen writes, “the core ambition of each of the thinkers discussed in these pages is ultimately the same: to restore contact between theology and the living faith and thus also with the sources of the faith. To this end, the new theologians rejected every theological system that revolved around the system itself rather than around the faith” (141). Of course, Mettepenningen notes the irony of this fact. The “new theologians” were in fact not new at all; rather, they sought an integral approach to theology, one that encountered the living sources of the Tradition. The purpose of the ressourcement is, then, a return to the mystery of faith that is necessary for all who practice the art of theology (144). Third, by focusing upon characteristics...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-9933
Print ISSN
1543-9925
Pages
pp. 66-68
Launched on MUSE
2018-02-16
Open Access
No
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