Drawing its title from the end of the Gospel according to John – ‘that we might have life in his name’ (Jn 20:31) – this book explores many and varied aspects of the new life that opened up in the event of Jesus Christ. The editors, both professors at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, have gathered contributions for renowned scholars who believe the Christian life is one of faith and reason.
What comes across in this work is how much a ‘thinking’ faith is essential for Christians and never more so than in a secularised age. But not only is it a ‘thinking faith’, it is also a life that seeks spontaneously to ‘communicate’ what it has seen and touched, heard and lived. The chapters of this book are clearly divided under headings that suggest a vivid interplay of life in the name of Christ, thought shaped by Christian faith and the missionary communication of the Gospel in today’s world.
This book has been inspired by a number of factors. In recent times, with church scandals and the complex dynamics of secularisation, a serious crisis of the meaning of the Christian faith and of belonging to the Church has emerged. All of this calls for greater reflection on what Christian faith has to offer.
Brendan Leahy is professor of theology at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and author of numerous publications. A von Balthasar scholar, he is involved in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue. He is also Secretary of the Irish Bishops' Advisory Committee on Ecumenism.
Séamus O’Connell is professor of Sacred Scripture at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. An expert in the Gospel of Mark, he is also active in the biblical apostolate, which is at the service of how the Scriptures can become a word of life for all people.
This impressive book is edited and published as a tribute to two fomer professors of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth - Thomas Norris and Michael Mullins - from their former colleagues in that College and the circle of their theological and scriptural peers. It is sub-titled 'Living, thinking and communicating the Christian life of faith'. This sub-title reflects the three-fold division of the book, with six chapters in each section, with a total of eighteen contributions from as many authors. The themes covered in the flrst section - 'Living in his name' - include topics as various as the Big Bang, Johannine Spirituality and Mary as the Sacramental matrix of ecclesial personhood in Christ. The second section includes essays on the twentieth century's contribution to Trinitarian theology, approaches to Scepticism and Mathematics and the Mind of God. The third section treats, among other topics, the theology of Beauty, Images of Redemption in Irish bardic religious poetry, and the teaching of religion as a resource for Europe. This somewhat random listing of some of the titles and topics gives a flavour of the breadth and scope of the book and the scholarly quality of the contributions. Among such a rich variety of topics and authors, it is difficult to single out one essay for particular comment. However, as this review was being written, it was announced that one to the editors and the author of the final essay, Brendan Leahy, had been named as Bishop of Limerick, so that may offer some indication towards a choice. The title of that final essay is 'Mystery, Communion and Mission - a summary formula for evangelization'. The author explores the three themes which are now commonly agreed to have been the key ideas underlying the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, running thread-like though all of the conciliar documents. 'Mystery' has to do with the Church's origin in the heart of the Trinity, 'Communion' has to do with the web of human and supernatural relationships that mark the Church's life, and 'Mission' is the outward movement of the Church through history. These three inter-related themes provide an underpinning for the Church's evangelizing activity, rooted in the Crucified and Forsaken Christ and living a spirituality of communion.
The wide scope and scholarly erudition of this collection of essays make this book a worthy tribute to the two scholars in whose honour is has been published. It provides a substantial contribution to the current Year of Faith.
Aidan Ryan, The Furrow, Volume LXIIII, Number 3, March 2013