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
“Tell ’em about the dream, Martin.” Such was the entreaty that, according to popular lore, the gospel singer Mahalia Jackson shouted to Martin Luther King Jr. on August 28, 1963.1 The civil rights leader was two-thirds through the speech he was delivering on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. King had spoken about his dream in other contexts but had not included the idea in his prepared texts for this speech. We can be grateful then that King, responding to Jackson or some other grace-touched inspiration, went off script and spoke words that, though often scorned at the time, have ever since resounded deep in the American soul:
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
The year 2023 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the March on Washington that featured civil rights leader, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This article focuses on King’s critique of racism, poverty, and militarism, and his commitment to justice, love, and hope.
To Dream in North and South America: Reflections on the Sixtieth Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech
This article reflects on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech delivered
sixty years ago in Washington, DC. It begins by pointing to the concept of “dream”
as it is understood in current language and how Dr. King used it in a theological way.
Next, the essay compares this with what Pope Francis has frequently said about
dreams, including his own. Reflecting on King’s words and the sense that the dream
he spoke about is still not a reality but a horizon of hope that stimulates struggle,
the article presents a comparative study of racism in the United States, according
to King, and Brazil, where structural racism permeates the whole society, delaying
indefinitely the dream of equality and justice. I also show how liberation theology has
been a helpful element in the struggle to keep the dream of equality alive. I
This article parallels Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream for civil, economic, and racial equality in the USA with Julius K. Nyerere’s unrelenting liberation struggle for the emancipation of Southern Africa from colonial shackles. I write this article fully cognizant of King’s belief that what united the minority and colonial peoples of America, African, and Asia was the struggle to overcome the legacy of colonialism and racial injustice. I therefore argue that King’s dream was a shared dream, which I analyze through the prism of liberation theology.
We need a nonviolent soteriology that honors scriptural and theological traditions about enemy-love, suffering, sacrifice, and satisfaction and refuses to further harm victims of violence and oppression. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolence and Bernard Lonergan’s way of understanding Christ’s satisfaction by analogy with the sacrament of reconciliation disclose one way suffering can be redemptive: When nonviolent activists “present their very bodies,” they expose the violence latent in unjust situations. Similarly, when Christ presents his body, he exposes the violence at the heart of sin. Like Christ, activists “become sin” (1 Cor 5:21)—not because they take responsibility for the sin, but because sin becomes visible in the wounds it leaves on innocent bodies. Once visible, healing can begin. Further, both men argue for a proper unfolding of the extension of love to enemies, lest victims be further harmed and injustice ignored.
This article offers a theological vision of how nonviolence contributes to Catholic social teaching, and offers a crosscutting, intersectional praxis related to two destructive waves in the US: the public health crisis of COVID-19 and systemic racism. First, this article will describe some basic intersections of these two waves, and then draw on a theological description of nonviolence to analyze their intersectionality. Finally, this article will illustrate how nonviolence offers a praxis for a more sustainable transformation.
Christians ancient and modern have puzzled over the violence in the book of Joshua. Origen of Alexandria interprets this text apocalyptically, to give readers a sense of their own personal moral struggle as participating in a cosmic effort. For Origen, the central act of apocalypse is the cross of Jesus Christ, conquering evil through nonviolence and making religious violence explicitly prohibited. This is a compelling exegesis still today, since by using the cross to reinterpret Joshua, Origen presents a middle path between endorsing the violence depicted and excising or ignoring it.