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Jean Danielou

 

God and the Ways of Knowing

"My plan in this book," writes Father Danielou, the eminent French theologian, "is not to record what I say of God, but what God has said of Himself… to place religions and philosophies, the Old Testament and the New, theology and mysticism, in their proper relationship with the knowledge of God." God and the Ways of Knowing is a classic work of theology and spirituality that presents a subtle and penetrating interpretation of the ways by which man comes to the knowledge of God—each form of knowledge carrying him both higher and deeper.

 

 

 

 

Angels and Their Mission: According to the Fathers of the Church

Jean Danielou, who spearheaded the Catholic movement of patristic scholarship in the mid to late twentieth century, is a true master of the patristic mind, with the added advantage that he has even their least accessible works at his literary fingertips. Here he has stooped to give us a compendium of patristic angelology, in a form that is both popular and scholarly acute. Dry medieval speculation about the metaphysical natures of angels gave way long ago to modern skepticism of their very existence, which has more recently given way to a postmodern fanciful obsession with them, an obsession which is unfortunately now unhinged from any foundation in the theological tradition which gave us angelology in the first place.

Danielou submerges us in the first Christian reflections on God's heavenly hosts, beginning in the pages of Scripture itself and stretching through the fifth century (with a chronological exemption given to our good friend Denys, for obvious reasons), reflection which focuses not on their natures but rather on their mission to man, a topic far more robust and theologically satisfying.

Danielou's chapters on the angelic activity of the Old Covenant and of the pagan nations were most interesting, if only because this activity is the most glossed over by post-patristic treatments. Most helpful is the way familiar biblical passages are interwoven with early patristic commentaries and homilies, which put the same passages in a new light. It is also stunning to see the broad and surprising amount of consensus which the Fathers were able to hold on issues related to angelology, even on matters which are of little interest to theologians today (e.g., guardian angels, the 'angels of the nations,' the role of the angels in the sacramental economy). The book has the added advantage of being short and concise, easily readable in two or three days.

 

 

 

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God's Life in Us

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Prayer: The Mission of the Church

Danielou's collection of meditations on prayer is part of a series entitled Ressourcement: Retrieval and Renewal in Catholic Thought, which draws its inspiration from the mid-twentieth-century Ressourcement movement centered in France and associated with the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar, who wrote the foreword for this volume. The material in the collection was originally delivered as talks at days of recollection for the laity; its oral, popular, and devotional character are evident. The talks (as suggested by the subtitle) are as much exhortations to mission as meditations on prayer, and readers will learn a great deal about a theological attitude--permeated with tension between proclamation of uniqueness and exhortation to openness--that has shaped the Roman Catholic Church's attitude toward the larger world since Vatican II.

 

 

 

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Bible and the Liturgy

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The First Six Hundred Years

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