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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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Part I: What Are they Saying about the Church as a Hermeneutical Community and Embodied Faith?


← 20 | 21 → PART I

What Are they Saying about the Church as a Hermeneutical Community and Embodied Faith? ← 21 | 22 →

← 22 | 23 → Part I introduces the topic of the place of embodied faith within the Church as hermeneutical community by asking what contemporary theological literature is saying about the place of embodied faith in theology and its place in the on-going ecclesial interpretation of Christian Revelation. It explores a shift in Biblical hermeneutics from a focus from the Scriptural word to a focus on how the “Word” is embodied in history and context. It also recognises the importance of the topic of the Church as hermeneutical community and in some cases a revival of the understanding of the vertical dimensions of interpretation through participative dimensions of faith. It also explores the emergence of the topic in Ecumenical ecclesiology and how a postmodern influence on the interpretation of faith has led to an emphasis on ecclesial hermeneutics which includes contextuality, narrative and praxis. An emphasis on embodied faith is also seen in congregational studies and the turn to ethnography to interpret faith in all its cultural particularity.

This first part of the thesis will also explore in the second chapter how certain themes in biblical, philosophical and theological hermeneutics relate to developments in contemporary ecclesial hermeneutics with its focus on Tradition, embodiment, praxis and inter-subjectivity. Through our examination of this literature, we are setting the context for a subsequent detailed treatment of the...

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