• 1
    Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I–II, 72,4. I want to suggest that this well-known Thomistic definition of humanity is a ‘relational ontology,’ but one which differs from certain twentieth century versions primarily because it does not seek to subvert the category of substance. I will not significantly engage the social and political aspects of this relational ontology, but social and political consequences follow how one conceives ‘relational ontology.’
  • 2
    Theodore de Régnon, SJ, Études de théologie positive sur la Sainte Trinité, 3 vols. (Paris: Retaux, 1892–98). The nobiliary particle of French names, aristocratic or not, are increasingly being dropped unless common usage depends on the particle for recognition. Hereafter, this author will be referred to simply as Régnon.
  • 3
    John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, (Fordham University Press, 1979).
  • 4
    Pope Benedict XVI provides a clear and concise account of ‘three stages in the program of dehellenization,’ arguing that the process began during the Reformation, but reached a decisive second stage with the help of Harnack as its ‘outstanding representative.’ See his lecture at Regensburg University, ‘Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections,’ The Holy See, September 12, 2006, (accessed April 2012). As the essay will later show, it has been one of the defining marks of the theological career of Joseph Ratzinger to overcome the de-hellenization thesis.
  • 5
    For the critical reception history of Régnon, including his reception amongst Orthodox theologians, see Kristin Hennesy, ‘An Answer to de Régnon's Accusers: Why We Should Not Speak of ‘His’ Paradigm,’ Harvard Theological Review 100 (2007):179197. Hennesy shows that Vladimir Lossky had already tried to ‘bury’ Régnon before and that Orthodox writers had as many reasons to embrace him as to reject him. But what she most convincingly argues is that Régnon never intended to oppose East and West, but he intended the opposite: to oppose the neo-scholastic or ‘rationalist’ and ‘essentialist’ West. In this she suggests that Régnon desired theological rapprochement between Greek and Latin patrimonies of Christianity, the very thing that his contemporary opponents desire. This may be true, but it seems to me there are crucial differences in how they imagine rapprochement on such a fundamental theological truth. What is at stake is how a hermeneutic of continuity may be maintained in light of this desire for reconciliation. Régnon wrongly assumes rupture, which leads to the disastrous misunderstanding that the Latins ‘re-paganize’ the Trinity.
  • 6
    Karl Rahner, The Trinity (London: Continuum, 2001)
  • 7
    Hans Urs von Balthasar, ‘On the Concept of Person,’ Communio 13:1 (1986), 1826.
  • 8
    Joseph Ratzinger, Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life, 2nd Ed. (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2007); Retrieving the tradition: Concerning the notion of person in theology,’ Communio 17:3 (Fall, 1990).
  • 9
    Michel René Barnes, ‘De Regnon Reconsidered,’ Augustinian Studies, 26 (1995), 5179; Augustine in Contemporary Trinitarian Theology,’ Theological Studies, 56:2 (1995), 237250.
  • 10
    See Rowan Williams, ’Sapientia and the Trinity: Reflections on De trinitate’, in Bernard Bruning , Mathijs Lamberigts and J van Houtem (eds) Collectanea Augustiniana: Mélanges T J van Bavel, vol 1, Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium XCII-A (Louvain: Leuven University Press, 1990), 317332; Lewis Ayres, ‘Augustine, the Trinity and Modernity,’ Augustinian Studies 26, no. 21, 1995; Nicaea and Its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth-Century Trinitarian Theology (Oxford University Press, 2004); my own essay, How Augustine Used the Trinity,’ Anglican Theological Review 85:1 (2003) also reflected on this contemporary challenge to Régnon's narrative.
  • 11
    It is not my intention to treat the contemporary challenge to Regnon's narrative, only to consider one of the consequences that may originally stem from it. For a good survey of critical views on this contemporary trend, see the review symposium on Lewis Ayre's Nicaea and Its Legacy – especially the critically appreciative reception that John Behr and Khaled Anatolios have given to Ayre's work – in Harvard Theological Review.
  • 12
    The fundamental essays in the journal Communio, written by Hans Urs von Balthasar, Kenneth Schmitz, and Joseph Ratzinger, on the nature and concept of the person provide a fascinating study of how twentieth century Catholic theologians wrestled with precisely this problem of how to think about the category of substance in the light of de-hellenizing theologies. It is fair to say that there are ambiguities in how each theologian treats the category of substance. See Hans Urs von Balthasar. ‘On the Concept of Person,’ Communio 13, no. 1 (1986). Kenneth L. Schmitz, ‘The Geography of the Human Person,’ Communio 13, no. 1 (1986). Joseph Ratzinger, ‘Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology,’ Communio 17, no. 3 (1990). As the discussion develops in Communio, theologians like David C. Schindler develop the implications of these early essays, seeking to make ‘relationality’ into a super-category above being, whereas Kenneth Schmitz attempts to make relationality essential to substance. These two trajectories, however, sound as though they remain at the level of Régnon's dichotomy of Greek personalism and Latin essentialism.
  • 13
    Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology (Ignatius, 1987), 17.
  • 14
    Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 53. The pope stresses that this critical evaluation requires the contribution of ‘metaphysics and theology’ if it is to be ‘properly understood.’ This belongs to his larger argument concerning the dangerous loss of recognition that there is a ‘nature’ given by God which is prior to our relation to it, and which expresses a ‘design of love and truth.’ (CV, 48). At the same time, the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education has significantly increased the requirement to study metaphysics in the seminary curriculum. See the ‘Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies of Philosophy.’ The Holy See, January 28, 2011. (accessed April 9, 2012).
  • 15
    As I will later show, Joseph Ratzinger strenuously opposed these de-hellenizing trends, and yet even Ratzinger found it difficult to understand Augustine as anything but the wrong kind of dualist, wedded too much to the Hellenistic category of being in his definition of the person as a substantial rational soul.
  • 16
    Augustine cites Varro, and the consensus of the Old Academy, in affirming that ‘there are two elements in man's nature, body and soul,’ City of God 19.3. Augustine proceeds to examine the social nature of man's nature in light of this basic conviction about human nature as a body-soul union.
  • 17
    Augustine, Confessions 3.6.10; Boniface Ramsey, ‘Introduction,’ in Augustine, The Manichean Debate (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2006); G. Pelland et al, ‘De Genesi contra Manichaeos’ ‘De Genesi ad litteram liber imperfectus’ di Agostino d'Ippona, Lectio Augustini * (Palermo: Edizioni ‘Augustinus,’ 1992). Ramsey helpfully shows how important scriptural interpretation was for the Manichean sect's self-understanding as true Christianity. Manicheans regarded the Catholics as ‘semi-Christian’ precisely because they continued to cling to the Old Testament, specifically dismissing the way that Catholics held up the significance of the Old Testament for understanding the New Testament (e.g. the genealogies of Christ). Catholic Christians were deemed religious but not ‘spiritual’ enough in their understanding of the nature of Christ.
  • 18
    Augustine, Confessions, Book 8.
  • 19
    See R.M. Grant, ‘Manichees and Christians in the third and early fourth centuries,’ in Ex Orbe Religionum. Studia Geo Widengren, vol. I (Leiden: Brill, 1972).
  • 20
    Augustine, Confessions 3.6.10.
  • 21
    Augustine, Retractions 1.10.
  • 22
    Augustine, On Genesis: A Refutation of the Manichees (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2002) p. 39, citing 1 Cor. 11:19.
  • 23
    Augustine, The City of God, 11.9.
  • 24
    Augustine, The City of God, 11.15.
  • 25
    Augustine, Confessions 1.1.
  • 26
    James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview and Cultural Formation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009), 39ff, Smith resists a ‘rationalist’ anthropology in favor of a ‘liturgical’ one, developing the notion of human beings as ‘liturgical animals’ to complement Alasdair MacIntyre's view that we are ‘dependent rational animals’ ( MacIntyre, Dependent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings Need the Virtues (Chicago: Open Court, 1999]). Smith could find direct support for this in the opening chapter of the Confessions: ‘to praise you is the desire of man,’ and yet Augustine complicates the agency of this desire when he then writes ‘You stir man to take pleasure in praising you …’ Confesssions 1.1., suggesting either that this desire is innate in the substance of human nature, or that it is a desire which God ‘stirs’ in us gratuitously. I will return to this ambiguity and its importance for relational ontologies in the conclusion.
  • 27
    See Michael Hanby, Augustine and Modernity, also see his forthcoming chapter on Augustine and the Mystery of the Human Person’ in C.C. Pecknold and Tarmo Toom , The T&T Clark Companion to Augustine and Modern Theology (London: T&T Clark, 2013).
  • 28
    Rarely do theologians connect what Augustine writes in De Trinitate with what he writes, at basically the same time, in De civitate Dei. Augustine's extremely strong, realist account of bodily resurrection in DCD, 22 is impossible to square with reading Augustine's anthropology as disembodied in the rational soul. Augustine's understanding of the person allows for an ‘intermediate state’ but demands a realist understanding of bodily resurrection, which gives eschatological force to his appreciation of substance as fundamental to the social person.
  • 29
    Gregory of Nyssa, De Hominus Opificio: On the Formation of Man, 16, cited in Gerhart B. Ladner, ‘The Philosophical Anthropology of Saint Gregory of Nyssa,’ Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 12 (1958), pp. 5994.
  • 30
    Ibid., 64.
  • 31
    Ibid., 65.
  • 32
    Augustine, Confessions 2.8.
  • 33
    Gregory of Nyssa, De Hominus Opificio: On the Formation of Man, 16, cited in Gerhart B. Ladner, ‘The Philosophical Anthropology of Saint Gregory of Nyssa,’ Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 12 (1958), 72.
  • 34
    Ibid., 72.
  • 35
    This is not intended to elide the serious eschatological disagreements about the permanence of gender in human nature between the Greek and Latin theologians (Nyssa believes gender falls away in the resurrected body, Augustine does not) – but these disagreements about gender in the resurrected body should not distract from their implicit agreement concerning the relational, rational embodied soul created by God.
  • 36
    John P. O'Callaghan, ‘Imago Dei: A Test Case for St. Thomas's Augustinianism,’ in M. Levering and M. Dauphinais , Aquinas the Augustinian, 100144. While I largely agree with O'Callaghan's helpful discussion of Aquinas on this shift from mind to soul, his discussion of Augustine is often anachronistic in light of the 13th century plural substantial forms debate (which also makes his Augustine curiously ‘Cartesian’).
  • 37
    Ibid. p. 114.
  • 38
    Ibid. p. 114.
  • 39
    Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I.91, art.6.
  • 40
    Thomas Aquinas, ST I. 93, art 3, resp.
  • 41
    John P. O'Callaghan, ‘Image of God,’ p. 141.
  • 42
    See Lawrence Feingold's important, detailed critique of Henri de Lubac along these lines in The Natural Desire to See God According to Saint Thomas and His Interpreters (Sapientia Press of Ave Maria University, 2010). I am inclined to agree with Feingold's critique of de Lubac concerning innate desire, favoring elicited desire and obediential potency as more adequate categories for defining natural desire. But I am not yet convinced by Feingold's critique of de Lubac concerning the dangers of the ‘pure nature’ hypothesis and his understanding of the final end of the human person. However, as Jacob Wood and I argue in a forthcoming essay on ‘Augustine and Henri de Lubac,’ in The T&T Clark Companion to Augustine and Modern Theology (Bloomsbury/T&T Clark, June 2013) it is better to situate Henri de Lubac in a different Augustinian tradition from either the Thomistic or Scotistic variations, but rather in the Aegidian tradition (following Giles of Rome).
  • 43
    Joseph Ratzinger, ‘Retrieving the tradition: Concerning the notion of person in theology,’ Communio 17:3 (Fall, 1990).
  • 44
    Ibid. 447.
  • 45
    Ibid. 447.
  • 46
    Ibid. 454.
  • 47
    In the Beginning, 34.
  • 48
    In the Beginning, 57.
  • 49
    Catechism of the Catholic Church, 355384.
  • 50
    Caritas in Veritate, 48.
  • 51
    Caritas in Veritate, 54.
  • 52
    Caritas in Veritate, 55.