A journal of academic theology

Welcome to Theological Studies

Founded and sponsored by the Society of Jesus, Theological Studies is a Catholic scholarly journal that serves the Church and its mission by promoting a deeper understanding of the Christian faith through the publication of research in the theological disciplines and through reviews of noteworthy books. The journal has been in continuous publication since 1940.

About This Website

In keeping with the Society of Jesus’s commitments to serve the global Church, the journal is pleased to provide this site as a resource for scholars who do not have ready access to our journal. It contains articles and book reviews from 1940 up to the last five years, which can be accessed here free of charge. Articles or reviews published in the last five years are available by subscription, or a per article charge, at SAGE Journals. Article submissions by authors must be made via SAGE, where you will also find the latest formatting and style guides. For your convenience, they are also available on this website.

In the Current Issue

From the Editor’s Desk

As I write this note, two anticipated events in the Catholic world have just occurred: the opening of the 2023 Synod on Synodality in Rome and the publication of Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Laudate Deum, his follow-up to Laudato Si’. The two share a theme that Francis sees as fundamental to the human creature and the world more broadly: relationality. The church comprises a community of encounter and listening, and the human person is profoundly embedded in and related to our world and the creatures within it. “No one is saved alone,” Francis exclaims in Laudate Deum

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Dei Verbum and the Roots of Synodality

This article shows how Pope Francis’s notion of “synodality” brings together central tenets of the comprehensive vision of the Second Vatican Council. The article proposes that the roots of synodality can be found, above all, in Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum.

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Purely Penal Law: A Reconsideration

The concept of purely penal law, as developed by the Spanish Jesuit Francisco Suárez in the early seventeenth century, argues that promulgated law is neither morally binding upon the citizen nor conceived as a moral requirement by legislators. Rather, the law is strictly punitive in its intent and function. The theory, which grants the individual the right to determine law’s rational and moral significance, touched off a heated debate that has been renewed at various times in history yet has not resurfaced since the mid-twentieth century. This article argues for the veracity and legitimacy of the concept in light of contemporary legal and penal dynamics. It also argues that the Catholic Church should take notice of its insights in its understanding of the relationship between church and state.

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A Hidden Ecological Dialectic: An Oversight in Insight

While the writings of Robert Doran exhibit significant ecological awareness, the
present paper argues that the corpus of Bernard Lonergan and Doran’s own work
have overlooked an ecological dialectic that arises naturally from Lonergan’s approach.
This article suggests there is an anthropocentric bias operating that prevents its
recognition, which needs to be identified and overcome if we are to address our
current ecological crises. To that end, this article identifies a double dialectic operating
in the social order. The first dialectic, as identified by Lonergan and expanded by Doran,
is that between intersubjectivity and practical intelligence; however, this dialectic is
embedded in a second larger dialectic between the social order itself and the order of
the nonhuman processes from which the social order itself emerges. The appreciation
of this dialectic has been blocked by our neglect of cosmological meanings and values,
as exemplified by the Indigenous peoples of our world.

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The Indefectibility of the Apostolic See: Was the Idea of a Heretical Pope Formally Excluded at the First Vatican Council?

During the prelude to the First Vatican Council, the idea of a heretical pope was
used as the primary argument against the solemn definition of papal infallibility.
The medieval canonists and conciliarists had allowed for the notion of papal heresy
by making a strict distinction between the apostolic seat itself and the individual
occupants of the throne of Peter. However, when we examine the text of Pastor
Aeternus in light of the contents of the official Relatio, which was drawn up at the
council to explain the meaning of this document, we find that the above distinction
used by the conciliarists was formally proscribed with an anathema. This article will
argue that in doing so, the Council Fathers definitively excluded the possibility of a
heretical pope.

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On the Way to Divine Providence: From the Abyss of Time to the Throe of Eternity

Divine providence, as traditionally conceived, keeps historical time subordinate to
God’s sovereignty so that the divine plan for it is fulfilled. This article argues that
the starting point for theologizing about providence ought to be the logic of radical
generosity in play when the divine Thou creates historical time as a reality unto itself
by giving it an unprecedented future. Providence does not protect the historically
conditioned universe from this future; it draws the universe into it. The human
experience of grace offers us a paradigmatic example of this.

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Theological Aporia and the Cultivation of Desire: Reading Eriugena’s Creatio Ex Nihilo through an Islamic Theo-Poetics

This comparative theological article expands on John Thiel’s article on aporias in theological method. Through an Islamic theo-poetics, it complements the import of hermeneutics in theological method with poetics. In an Islamic theo-poetics, aporias are inverted: they are not impassable walls, but “liminal spaces” through which creative imagination and revelation emerge. Reading Eriugena’s Periphyseon through two Persian love lyrics by Ḥāfiẓ (and a later commentary) draws out the poetics of the former, a dialogue often described as an exercise in dialectical reasoning. Attention to the poetics of aporetics offers another way to understand the role of aporia in theology: to cultivate (infinite) desire for God. Theology is a theo-poetic reflection on the mystery of our communal theo(poïe)sis. Along the way, I indicate how theology construed as poetics—not merely hermeneutics—makes theological aesthetics possible, underscores the role of affective knowledge, and reveals how Eriugena the poet shaped Eriugena the dialectician.

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Truth in a Wintry Season

Directing attention to what has become an arctic winter for truth, this article explores a distinctly Christian understanding of truth, utilizing biblical accounts, the Christian mystical tradition, and theological anthropology. Considering truth as existential, as something that emerges within life commitment to Christ, the article presents a group of strategies from theological and secular realms that prove practically suggestive for contemporary discipleship in an increasingly post-truth era.

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Announcements

Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of Pope Francis’s Election

The March and June issues of Theological Studies will include articles that commemorate the tenth anniversary of Pope Francis’s election.

Revised 2023 Journal Guide for Authors

Beginning next year, 2023, Horizons and Theological Studies will follow the same journal style in dealing with matters related to citation, punctuation, spelling, and so forth. In collaboration, the ...

Website Redesign

The journal’s new website was redesigned by Keybridge Web of Washington, DC in September of 2022.  The website is important to the Society of Jesus ...

Announcing New Associate Editors

The journal announces two new associate editors as part of its editorial team.  Annie Selak (PhD, Boston College) is the Associate Director of the Women’s Center at ...
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