A journal of academic theology

December 1999 editorial

This fascicle of Theological Studies is the last of the 20th century and the last appearing in the second millennium. Barring Y2K mixups or Christmas mail backups, readers–at least in North America–should have their copy to study at leisure over the year-end holidays. Looking back over the last sixty years we recognize our debt to hundreds of authors and thousands of readers. For these supporters and colleagues we express our gratitude. Threads of continuity are woven into the journal’s search for insights and new ways to hand on the Christian tradition. During its sixty years’ lifetime the journal has had five editors-in-chief: William J. McGarry (1940-41), John Courtney Murray (1942-67), Walter Burghardt (1967-90), Robert Daly (1991-95), and currently Michael A. Fahey (1996- ). Over time its editorial offices operated variously out of New York City, Woodstock (Maryland), Boston, Toronto, and now Milwaukee.

On the occasion of the quarterly’s 50th anniversary in 1989 Walter Burghardt wrote an engaging retrospective of the journal’s history which I often reread. Various readers will have their own list of favorite or far-reaching articles. I regard with special admiration John C. Ford’s courageous piece in 1944, while World War II was still being waged, vigorously condemning indiscriminate bombing in “The Morality of Obliteration Bombing.” Bernard Lonergan, before Insight and Method in Theology, prodded our intellects with articles from 1942 to 1943 on the concept of gratia operans and later from 1946 to 1949 with his five pioneering essays on Verbum in Thomas Aquinas. In those days TSwas the organ of six U.S. theologates under Jesuit auspices: Alma (California), Mundelein (Illinois), St. Mary’s (Kansas), West Baden (Indiana), Weston (Massachusetts), and Woodstock (Maryland).

Surprisingly, while Vatican II was in session from 1962 to 1965, TS was quite silent about the dramatic interventions at the council and the debates on draft proposals–with one notable exception. Editor John Courtney Murray was not shy about publishing in 1964 his own study-one of the lengthiest articles ever published in the journal-“The Problem of Religious Freedom.” It was speech after long silence. Again in 1966, one year after the close of Vatican II, he published his own authoritative commentary on the council’s Declaration on Religious Liberty,Dignitatis humanae, which he had helped to draft. Only gradually after the council did theological analyses of Vatican II appear: Gregory Baum wrote in 1967 about the document on revelation; William Kelly in 1967 on the laity, and in 1968 Methodist professor from Emory University, Manfred Hoffmann, published his commentary on Lumen gentium. In 1971, seven years after the event, John O’Malley offered his much quoted judgment of the council: “Reform, Historical Consciousness, and Vatican II’s Aggiornamento.” Finally in 1979, Karl Rahner shared his views about Vatican II as the first act of the “world Church” in his “Toward a Fundamental Theological Interpretation of Vatican II.”

For many subscribers TS has been especially treasured because it helped them keep abreast of developments in moral theology. Even the first volume in 1940 contained the beginnings of what came to be known as the yearly “Notes on Moral Theology.” The first installment-unsigned-was actually authored by Editor William J. McGarry. Later John C. Ford, Gerald Kelly, John J. Lynch, then, its longest collaborator Richard McCormick, took on that responsibility. McCormick began authoring the Notes on Moral Theology in 1965, and continued this herculean task for over 22 years (in addition to several other far-reaching articles). Beginning in 1985 he shared his job with other several other ethicists and eventually after 1990 handed on the torch to others-usually three persons doing what he had once done alone. His contributions as author, counselor, and editorial consultant have been unparalleled. He continues to encourage us from his new home at the Jesuit residence in Michigan (Columbiere Health Center, 9075 Big Lake Road, Clarkston, Michigan 48346-1041) where he is recuperating from a recent stroke.

Two of the former editors are active writers and lecturers. Walter Burghardt maintains a busy schedule out of the Woodstock Theological Center in Washington training personnel to preach the just word. Robert Daly at Boston College writes extensively on sacramental worship and recently completed editing the late Edward Kilmartin’s posthumous study on the Eucharist.

Several other milestones for TS were our introduction to North American readers of the Peruvian theologian Gustavo Gutierrez in 1970 with his study on liberation theology.

The following year, thirty one years after its founding, the quarterly published its first article by a woman scholar, the distinguished New Testament professor of New Testament at the University of Notre Dame, Josephine Massyngberde Ford, “Toward a Theology of ‘Speaking in Tongues’.” Several years later in December 1975 a thematic issue highlighted the “International Women’s Year.” Since then a long list of women collaborators have published here. In 1970 the Jewish scholar Eugene Borowitz published a lengthy study. John Meyendorff was the first Eastern Orthodox theologian to publish in the journal with his 1989 study “New Life in Christ: Salvation in Orthodox Theology.” What is especially rewarding for us today are the submissions received beyond North America from Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Finland.

In 1974 TS also published a manuscript by Archbishop Denis E. Hurley, O.M.I., of Durban, South Africa, “Population Control and the Catholic Conscience : Responsibility of the Magisterium,” a text which raised some eyebrows and which the journal was urged not to publish.

For all the many articles and countless book reviews we give thanks and trust that the tradition will live on. The Board of Directors has recently reappointed me as editor-in-chief for another five years. I accept the assignment with relish. Will TS, as we know it, still be published in 2040, one hundred years after its founding? I very much doubt it–if by publication one understands printed copy. By then, I predict that most paper printed journals will be quaint memories from the past. Yet I trust and hope that the journal will continue even expanded through the world wide web, allowing for intense interactive response, in an atmosphere promoting responsible freedom.

Christmas greetings, and God’s blessings in A.D. 2000 and beyond.

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