Appeared in Spring 1991, Vol. XVII, No. 1

Fr. Cessario, in his first essay in Faith & Reason, offers a profound reflection upon the role of Christ in fulfilling the Father’s salvific plan.

The theological act remains an act of historical understanding in two respects.1 First of all, it bears upon a content that the christian tradition has historically transmitted, beginning with the scriptural witness and proceeding thence through its transmission in tradition. Its objective, therefore, concerns a set of claims about history that have themselves been historically mediated. At the same time, we can consider the theological exercise historical in another sense. For it investigates the testimonial materials received from the past tradition in light of the present historical situation. Of course, its retrieval of the past is not an historically neutral one, consisting in an immediate attainment of past meanings and older explanations. Rather, the encounter embraces the perspective of concerns that remain contemporary with the theological act itself.2 We call such encounter critical and even scientific to the extent that the perspectives of the past and that of present theological inquiry mutually illumine one another. Appropriately enough, then, German thinkers especially remind us that theology forms a kind of retrieval and, consequently, call it a Wiederholung.

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