Jaeger David-M. A. ,
Antonianum, 86/4 (2011) p. 635-638
Wonders shall never cease! Nor shall we ever exhaust the unending riches of the written Word of God. The most highly specialised will perhaps have had some such insights (or read of some such insights) before now, but for the rest of us, reading Boris Lazzaro’s article in this issue of Antonianum, on the“sound-track” of Amos is sheer delight. And this is surely what a multidisciplinary journal such as ours singularly accomplishes. Sharing the fruits of the most specialised research with colleagues of the same discipline, of course, but also with other scholars otherwise immersed in the pursuit of their own quite distinct disciplines. We are accustomed nowadays, are we not (at least those of us who still give some of their time to such light-weight stuff), to reviewers dismissing some novel or thriller as “made for film,” or “made for television,” meaning that it is already written with ease of (lucrative) translation into those other “media” in mind, as if there were an irreconcilable opposition between the medium of the written word and the audio-visual media. Well, in the case of the written Word of God, at least, Lazzaro – who like innumerable scholars before him, does credit to his alma mater, the celebrated Pontifical Biblical Institute – shows complementarity of the different “media” to be the right relationship. With him for guide, my reading of the Book of Amos will never be silent again, there will always be that original sound-track to accompany it. This issue of Antonianum, the fourth and final one for this year, opens with the Address of our newly installed Rector Magnificus, Fr. Priamo Etzi, ofm, on the 8th of November, to mark solemnly the inauguration of the new Academic Year 2011-2012 of the Pontifical University “Antonianum,” and that day’s Memorial of the Blessed John Duns Scotus, a leading light in our Order’s on-going intellectual history. Both informative and programmatic, deeply learned and utterly practical, it is now the “charter” we have received, for this year, and beyond it, as it closely mirrors the charge given our University by the Church, and in particular by the Franciscan Order. The professor of New Testament in the Theology Faculty of our Pontifical University “Antonianum”, Fr. Jorge Humberto Morales Rios, ofm, brings here to conclusion our series of articles, one in each issue of Antonianum this year, on Paterology, that is, the theology of God the Father, by focusing, most appropriately, on the “acting of the Father in the Resurrection of Jesus, the narrative and theological culmination of the Gospel according to St. Mark.”It is time to thank him again, not only for the thoroughly well-grounded and thought-provoking insights of this article, but also for having coordinated the publication in our review of the entire series.“Language” has been central to our thought and communication on the very activity of thinking and communicating for well over a century now. Indeed, in the English-speaking world, it seemed at times as if the concern with language, the tool or instrument of thought and communication, were replacing all “substantive” thought, and becoming itself the only subject worthy of thinking and communicating in the realm of systematic, “theoretical”, thought, a.k.a. philosophy. This is a tendency we could, of course, if so minded dismiss out of hand as a kind of barren intellectual onanismus, preferring to trust to the philosophia perennis or just “plain good sense.” Or else, we could grapple with it, wrestle with it, mightily, and try to meet its challenges headon, all the while identifying what may be valid and inescapable, even beneficial in it, weaving it into our on-going theological discourse, as, e.g., Fergus Kerr, op, has memorably suggested in Theology After Wittgenstein, the book’s title itself speaking volumes. Be that as it may, a consideration of language is certainly central to the enterprise of religion, which by its very nature relies on it to express and convey that which cannot simply be pointed at, physically, as it were, in the everyday. Whether religion, and hence religious discourse, are always necessarily an exercise in “self-transcendence,” in the sense that, say, Bernard Lonergan, sj, presupposes (rather than argues, I think) in his seminal Method in Theology (which had cult-like status in my younger days, but never did impress me personally as much as the monumental Insight had done), is presumably a subject of debate; or rather, it depends, on what you mean by “religion”. Lonergan rather restricts the definition, and circumscribes the discussion when, seemingly espousing Friedrich Heiler’s description of commonalities in religion, he claims to find in all of humanity’s principal known religions, elements that do all rather sound exquisitely Christian, but that one might not quite so spontaneously associate with certain other “religions” known to exist, or to have existed, at some time or place. Among these, the belief that there is God who “is supreme beauty, truth, righteousness, goodness;…love, mercy, compassion”; that “the way to him is repentance, self-denial, prayer… love of one’s neighbour, even of one’s enemies”). What then, e.g., about any religion that believes in a god that is, as well as multiple, also capricious, cruel, rapacious, altogether resembling the more imperfect versions of humanity; and that “the way to him” is human sacrifice, “sacred” prostitution, extermination of enemies; or about religion whose god demands that women who are the victims of rape (or indeed, actual “adulteresses”) be mercilessly stoned to death, or at the very least, forced to “marry” the rapist? Well, then, if we say that, a priori, this is not “a religion,” then what is it exactly that we do when we speak about “religion”, empirically (rather than the virtue of “religion”) except engage in the most egregious exercise of petition principii? Or do we simply decide that we are not really interested in any religion but those that broadly mirror our own, or only fall short of it by not too much; which in itself would, of course, be a legitimate choice, but only if we did not pretend that “religion” for us is some“objective” category independent of the specific one we ourselves are so blessed to profess. These random thoughts, quite unconnected with the article itself, one hastens to add, come to mind upon noting the very substantive article we are pleased and proud to publish here, on “religious language in the context of the modern theories of language” by our University’s prolific young professor of fundamental theology, Fr. Maksym Kopiec, ofm, the sheer depth of whose writings more than matches their length and breadth. This is one rather long article that I would never have wished to miss publishing or to mutilate by unduly compressing. Just how vast and varied the phenomenon of “religion” can be, and how promiscuously it interpenetrates with all sorts of other spheres of human thought and practice, is once more shown us here by the article of Ezio Albrile on “Gnostic biopolitics” – and if you are sufficiently intrigued by the title to want to know what this means, well then, you have got to read the article, haven’t you? (I have, but I am not going to tell you!). As repeatedly observed in these pages, Albrile’s generous periodic sharing of his encyclopaedic knowledge of the most esoteric pursuits rampant elsewhere and at other times, under cover of religion, or knowledge, or science, or whatever else, does enliven our review so, and seriously prevents us all from assuming that all human lives and cultures have ever been as confined as we sometimes experience ours to be. One’s horizons are then further broadened, and kept from collapsing in on themselves, as it were, by a number of particularly rewarding book reviews, on everything, it seems, from the “Real Jesus” to Franz Fanon, by way of Pope Innocent III, Duns Scotus, Angela of Foligno, Martin Buber… The Chronicles section this time presents a report on the recent “International Congress on Evangelisation,” held in Petropolis, Brazil, thus recalling us to the true and ultimate purpose of all our labours here, at the Antonianum, the review and, of course, the University: To announce the Good News of Jesus Christ the Son of God (Mk 1, 1), to bring to all peoples and every person the joyous message of salvation in His Name (Acts 4, 12). A rather elaborate way we have in academia to speak of so simple a message, one might think. And yet this is the part of the Vineyard that, in God’s Providence, has been specifically entrusted to us to cultivate. This, finally, is the last issue of Antonianum with me as the Editor. Having by this time in my life held a variety of offices and positions of several kinds, I can say that this has been for me the greatest privilege. I succeeded a line of distinguished Editor-scholars, and my successor, is himself more than just wholly worthy of them. For myself, I shall be content to be remembered as a half-way competent caretaker who has managed fairly decently (I hope) to keep up our heritage and our standards, and to coordinate somehow all the intellectual and personal energies that swirl around this journal and go into the making of it. If Antonianum has done well by its mission in the years since I took over, all praise is due to our often brilliant contributors, and then also, of course, to the colleagues who, with me, have made up our editorial team. First among these is my long-suffering Deputy Editor, Fr. Salvatore Barbagallo, ofm, the professor of liturgy in our Theology Faculty and now also the President of our University’s Institute of Religious Sciences; then, thankfully, there has always been the Secretary, my then colleague on our Canon Law Faculty, Fr. Moacyr Malaquias Júnior, ofm, in my first term, and since then, Fr. Maksym Kopiec, ofm, of the Theology Faculty, himself now turned into a major contributor (of scholarly papers, as well as of unstinting labour in our office). Fr. Kopiec indeed has valiantly carried much of the burden since my own appointment to a judgeship in the Roman Rota last spring. Others too have done their share, and I will forever be in their debt. Though not able to list them all, I wish to pay special tribute to Br. Antonino Clemenza, ofm, of our Philosophy Faculty, our volunteer graphic designer who has contributed the new, warmly coloured cover, and to Dr. Dario Mazzone, our “corrector” of Italian (and sometimes English) texts. Dr. Mazzone’s singularly extensive erudition – and his ongoing experience of professional service to some of the highest institutions in Italy and in Europe - enables him to comprehend fully, and make readable, even the most “twisted” texts on the most recondite subjects, as well as to make even the best-written articles read still more clearly and cleanly. This being the final issue of the year, Br. Trinidad Huertas Rosas, ofm, must be thanked too, as every year for a good many now, for his meticulously compiled annual indices. Maybe there is yet life after being the Editor of Antonianum, but however long it lasts, something truly wonderful will still be missing from it!