The Fall, 2010 issue of Communio is devoted to “The Unity of the Scriptures.” In the words of St. Augustine, ‘novum in vetere latet, vetus in novo patet’ — the New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old is made manifest in the New. There is, then, a reciprocal relationship between the two Testaments: “The New Testament demands to be read in the light of the Old, but it also invites a ‘re-reading’ of the Old in the light of Jesus Christ (cf. Lk 24:45).” The interpretation of Scripture in the Church involves a passage from letter to spirit that both presupposes and discovers anew the deepest ground of the unity of Scripture—the Word made flesh and communicated in the Holy Spirit. “The central Word which God speaks,” writes Hans Urs von Balthasar, “and which comprises as their unity and end all the manifold words of God is Jesus Christ, the incarnate God . . . . His life is a fulfilling of Scripture. Therefore he incorporates the written words into his own life, making it live and there take flesh.” The present issue explores the unity of Scripture both as a theological mystery and as an abiding source for the renewal of exegesis and theology.
Adrian J. Walker, in “Living Water: Reading Scripture in the Body of Christ With Benedict XVI,” suggests that Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth exemplifies a new form of exegesis that incorporates aspects of historical-critical scholarship while approaching Scripture as an organic whole that coalesces into a unity around the figure of Christ. Of decisive importance is the action of the Holy Spirit, who “(co-)creates Jesus’ body and then (co-)resurrects it from the tomb on the Third Day.” To read Scripture in the same Spirit in which it was written “is to receive Holy Writ as an icon displaying the features of the Incarnate Son—and to receive the impress of those features by the workings of the Holy Spirit.”
Paolo Prosperi, in “Novum in vetere latet. Vetus in novo patet: Toward a Renewal of Typological Exegesis,” begins with a survey of the contemporary debate over the relation between the two Testaments and the claim that Christ “fulfills all the Scriptures.” Drawing on the theology and typological exegesis of Origen, Maximus the Confessor, and Dionysius the Areopagite, Prosperi brings to light a complex and dynamic understanding of the novelty of Christ as the “fulfillment” of the letter and types of the Old Testament. “Thus,” he writes, “while it is right to say that the New Testament involves a spiritualization of that which had been ‘carnal,’ we must immediately offer this clarification: this means a passage to the total fullness of meaning contained in the figure. This fullness involves not only its transformation in the direction of interiorization, but also its opposite: a greater incarnation of that which previously had been metaphorical or spiritual.”
Scott W. Hahn, in “The Symphony of the Old and New Testaments in the Biblical Theology of Benedict XVI,” presents a synthetic account of the biblical theology of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI. Hahn shows how for Pope Benedict, “the unity of the Old and New Testaments is more than a literary (canonical) or historical (economic) phenomenon; indeed, faith grasps the nature of that unity as a theological mystery—as something theandric — namely Christ.” In Benedict’s theology, “worship, law, and ethics are inseparably interwoven” within a biblical vision of the covenant whereby “God binds himself irrevocably” to his creation.
Ricardo Aldana, in “The Triune God as the Unity of Scripture,” reflects on the unity of Scripture as a mystery that reaches into God’s own being. Drawing on the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr, Aldana suggests that “the unity of Scripture . . . has its foundation, not only in trinitarian love, but also in created freedom’s loving participation therein. In particular, the Holy Spirit, who unites in himself the loving will of the Father and the Son, also incorporates the sacred writer’s loving reception of the Word into this unity.”
Mary Healy, in “The Hermeneutic of Jesus,” develops an argument in support of a christological reading of the Old Testament, or what ancient tradition calls the “spiritual sense.” The guiding question is, “What implicit hermeneutical assumptions and principles can be gleaned from Jesus’ own manner of interpreting the Old Testament as presented to us in the gospels?” Focusing on two passages in the gospel of Mark in which Jesus refers to David, Healy shows that “Jesus’ citations of the Scriptures . . . entail not merely a reinterpretation of texts but the claim that Israel’s kingship, worship, priesthood, and sabbath all belong to a divinely orchestrated plan, hidden within history, that is fully revealed and brought to fruition only in him.”
Michael Maria Waldstein, in “Constitutive Relations: A Response to David L. Schindler,” responds to the questions and critical remarks outlined in Schindler’s 2008 Communio article, “The Embodied Person as Gift and the Cultural Task in America.” After distinguishing Aristotelian substance together with its “proper” or “per se” accidents from the modern idea of substance as an unrelated and static block of being, Waldstein addresses the disputed question of “constitutive relationality.” “[I]n a human being,” he writes, “the proper subject of the relation of the creature as created to the Creator as origin is the person.” It follows that “the substance is ontologically prior to relation.”
Retrieving the Tradition presents two essays in honor of the beatification of John Henry Newman on 19 September 2010. The first is a selection, “On Conscience,” from John Henry Newman’s “Letter to the Duke of Norfolk,” which concludes with the famous words, “Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion into after-dinner toasts, (which indeed does not seem quite the thing), I shall drink — to the Pope, if you please, — still to Conscience first and to the Pope afterwards.” According to Newman, “conscience” is the supreme authority precisely because it is “the internal witness of both the existence and the law of God.”
In his essay “Conscience and Truth,” Joseph Ratzinger reflects on the place of conscience in the whole of Newman’s life and thought. Ratzinger suggests that for Newman, “the middle term that establishes the connection between authority and subjectivity is truth . . . . [T]he centrality of the concept of conscience for Newman is linked to the prior centrality of the concept of truth and can only be understood from this vantage point.”
Notes & Comments concludes the issue with a reflection by Massimo Camisasca on “The Father, the Source of Communion: Fatherhood as the Generation of Life.” After describing some of the historical roots of the crisis of fatherhood, Camisasca meditates on the challenge of human fatherhood in relation to the divine origin. “Every form of fatherhood, if it is to remain faithful to its task, must lead to the unique and true, heavenly fatherhood, that of God the Father. Every form of fatherhood has the task of introducing the child to the mystery of Being, of accompanying him into the depths of existence, all the way to the origin of all things.”