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Gift and Communion

Gift and Communion

Jarosław Kupczak
Agata Rottkamp
Justyna Pawlak
Orest Pawlak
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Gift and Communion
    Book Description:

    Gift and Communion offers a critical presentation of John Paul II's theology of the body, understood in the light of Christian theological tradition. The main thesis of the book is that John Paul II's theology of the body forms a new, inspiring approach to Christian ethics and the theology of marriage and family, as well as to theological anthropology. A central thrust of Gift and Communion is to treat theology of the body - as it deserves - in all its philosophical and theological seriousness and to present it as an important stage in the historical development of Catholic theology

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2596-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    Speaking in 1978 of the newly elected John Paul I, Cardinal Karol Wojtyła once described the pope’s role in post–Vatican II society as shouldering “the cross of contemporary man”—taking up and addressing the dangers, the wrongs that “can be righted only through justice and love.”¹ Unknown to him at the time, he was describing the very task that would be laid upon his own shoulders less than a month later when he would be elected to the papacy and would declare “Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ.”²

    Today, millions cherish John Paul II’s invitation...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xvii-xxii)

    The goal of this book is to present that aspect of theological anthropology which John Paul II himself referred to as “the theology of the body.”¹ The primary source for the presented reflections is the 129 catecheses John Paul II delivered during his Wednesday general audiences in the Vatican from 5 September 1979 to 28 November 1984.² From now on they will be referenced as the Wednesday catecheses on the theology of the body.³

    The Wednesday catecheses were delivered in four cycles. Each of them reflects on a chosen Bible passage and concerns a related issue that is fundamental for...

  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxiii-xxvi)
    (pp. 1-40)

    Using the title of the first philosophical publication of René Descartes,Discours de la méthodefrom 1637, as the name of this chapter is intentional.¹ It results from the conviction that the method of the theological anthropology of John Paul II is built in opposition to the Cartesian method, which has been considered paradigmatic for modern humanities and social sciences.² The papal reflections in the catecheses are theological; however, the fact that both thinkers intend to understand the real man living in history makes a comparison with Cartesian thought possible.

    Undoubtedly, one of the most important events which defined the...

    (pp. 41-92)

    In the Wednesday catecheses, John Paul II describes and analyzes the human body according to the principles of an adequate anthropology. As shown in the previous chapter, the pope explains the concept of an adequate anthropology as “an understanding and interpretation of man in what is essentially human.”¹ Through a phenomenological concentration on what is characteristic to man—subjectivity, an experience of self, and self-reflection—an adequate anthropology opposes empiricist anthropological reductionism that “reduces man to ‘the world’” and understands man only “with the categories taken from the ‘world,’ that is, from the visible totality of bodies.”²

    The papal theology...

    (pp. 93-136)

    Both concepts mentioned in the title of this chapter, gift and communion, have an important philosophical and theological history. It is worthwhile, therefore, to begin our reflections with a short historical introduction. Many anthropologists and ethnologists convincingly prove that the giving and receiving of a gift is a fundamental element of every human culture, “one of the bases of social life.”¹ In one of the first important modern publications on the cultural meaning of gift,Essai sur le don,Marcel Mauss writes that in archaic societies the ceremony of giving and receiving gifts had many essential social, economic, and religious...

    (pp. 137-169)

    The understanding of man as the image and likeness of God, fundamental for the development of Christian thought, is rooted in the first chapter of the Bible: “God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’”¹ These words that complete the process of creation should be understood in the context of Yahweh’s absolute transcendence, which...

    (pp. 170-206)

    The concept of “the language of the body” occupies an important place in John Paul II’s Wednesday catecheses on the theology of the body. Before analyzing this concept in papal thought, it is helpful to examine how it is understood in other fields of knowledge about man, for example in ethnology and psychology. In both of these disciplines, this concept signifies a nonverbal type of communication, which takes place, for example, through gestures, facial expressions, or signs.

    In the history of philosophy there has always been an awareness of the significance of the human body, of the gestures and movements...

    (pp. 207-212)

    George Lindbeck’s bookThe Nature of Doctrinemay well be regarded as one of the most important theological publications of the late twentieth century.¹ In the context of dialogue between religions, the Yale professor suggests a particular hermeneutics of sacred texts, that is, an intra-textual interpretation that is to enable dialogue among followers of different religions.² According to Lindbeck, a proper hermeneutics of religion should have a cultural and linguistic character so that truths of faith are interpreted not only cognitively, but also as aregula fideifor the whole of life of the community of believers.³ More important for...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 213-226)
  14. Index
    (pp. 227-230)