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The Church as Hermeneutical Community and the Place of Embodied Faith in Joseph Ratzinger and Lewis S. Mudge


Mary McCaughey

This book adds new impetus to ecumenical theology by focusing on embodied faith or the contextual interpretation of Revelation. It does so through an exploration of the insights of Lewis S. Mudge and Joseph Ratzinger. Mudge advocates catholicity as a hermeneutic which embraces the contextuality of faith in local contexts, including Christian communities and the religious practice of those of other Abrahamic faiths. Through his use of semiotics and social theory, Mudge offers novel ways to interpret faith lived as redemptive existence.
Since for Joseph Ratzinger Revelation can never be fully confined to rational statements, it is nevertheless expressed in living praxis. This relates to his view of wisdom, Tradition, truth and the sensus fidei. Ratzinger focuses on embodied faith in Christian experience, the lives of the saints, New Ecclesial Movements and the plurality of different expressions of faith in synchronic unity.
This study encourages the reader to explore the Church as a sacrament of redemption through contextuality and embodiment. Through the writings of two authors with contrasting and yet complimentary approaches, it highlights the transformative potential of Christianity which can serve as a point of ecumenical learning.
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← vi | vii → Acknowledgements


Many people have made the completion of this book possible. My sincere thanks go firstly to Bishop Brendan Leahy for his support and honest appraisal of this work in dissertation form. I would also like to thank Reverend Father Vincent Twomey SVD and Pater Professor Stephan Horn of the Ratzinger Schülerkreis as well as Doctor Michaela Hastetter of the Neuer Schülerkreis for their support for the project.

I am particularly grateful to those in the Papst Benedict XVI Institut, Regensburg namely Fr. Franz-Xavier Heibel and Dr Christian Schaller who made me so welcome and facilitated me in gathering so many resources. Thanks also go to the Department of Philosophy, Maynooth University for seminars in Phenomenology, Hermeneutics and for numerous clarifications and those at the Conferences of the Ecclesiological Investigations Research Network, Leuven and Utrecht for their insights on “embodied” and “carnal ecclesiology” and hermeneutics. I am indebted also to Mr Aengus O’Briain, Dr Kevin O’Reilly and Mr Colm Fitzpatrick for proof reading. Finally and not least, my appreciation goes to my family for their patience with my unsocial tendencies during the years of juggling work and doctoral research. To all those who have and continue to embody Christ to me in a constant, patient love – I am truly grateful. ← vii | viii →

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