Too Big a Tent?

Twentieth Century Catholic Theologians
From Neoscholasticism to Nuptial Mysticism
Fergus Kerr
Blackwell, $29.95, 240 pp.

As the editor of the Dominican theological journal New Blackfriars, Fergus Kerr, OP, has a reputation for fair-mindedness and scholarly precision. As the author of Immortal Longings: Versions of Transcending Humanity (1997), Kerr deepened his reputation as a thinker who was not only rooted in the Catholic tradition but also open to currents in contemporary philosophy and philosophical theology. Immortal Longings critiqued philosophers Martha Nussbaum, Martin Heidegger, Iris Murdoch, Luce Irigaray, Stanley Cavell, and Charles Taylor—all of whom he credited with “recreating, rediscovering, something like the religio-metaphysical conception of human life into which Christianity erupted.” Kerr found in these contemporary thinkers an admirable recognition that human life is a spiritual enterprise, one that persistently raises metaphysical questions. Consequently, they offer points of contact for Christian theologians. The final chapter of Immortal Longings, “The Natural Desire for God,” points toward Kerr’s latest contribution.

Kerr’s new book is organized around the currents of thought leading up to, shaping, and then later interpreting the Second Vatican Council. He begins with chapters on the Dominican theologians Marie-Dominique Chenu, Yves Congar, and Edward Schillebeeckx, then moves on to the Jesuits Henri de Lubac, Karl Rahner, and Bernard Lonergan. His survey is rounded out with chapters on...

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About the Author

Stephen J. Pope is a professor of theology at Boston College. He is the author of Human Evolution and Christian Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 2007).