In a debunking paper on “secularization” and the “secular,” Ian Hunter argues that “nobody in early modernity spoke of secularization in terms of a transition from divine reverencing to rational autonomy, but also that there is no evidence of such a transition taking place there and, further, that there is significant evidence to the contrary.” If secularization in the sociological sense was happening, it’s odd that nobody noticed. In fact, what Hunter calls the “most relevant body of scholarship” tells… Read more

Richard Spady’s eye-opening piece in First Things examines the consequences that follow when economics becomes an ideology, that is, when economics “will­fully projects its own first principles on its subject matter and actively seeks, perhaps unconsciously, material changes to bring social realities into conformity with these first principles.” He offers an extended example by describing the intersection of the talent market with international trade. He quotes Christopher Caldwell’s analysis of Vietnam making auto parts for a Japanese company: There is no… Read more

Notes on Comedy of Errors from Marjorie Garber and A.D. Nuttall. 1) Garber points out that the play begins with a legal threat, a death sentence hanging over Egeon of Syracuse because of his visit to Ephesus. This is the crux of the problem in many of the comedies, and like other comedies, Comedy ends with the relief of the penalty of death, an act of mercy on the part of the Duke. There’s an evangelical thrust to this, I… Read more

In a long footnote to an article on Rahner’s theology of divinization (p. 277, fn 43), Francis Caponi quotes Rahner saying “If the ordination [to a supernatural end] cannot be detached from the nature, the fulfillment of the ordination, from God’s point of view precisely, is exacted . . . . In other words, it follows from the innermost essence of grace that a disposition, in case it is needed, itself belongs to this supernatural order already; but it does not… Read more

The Song of Song depicts a Bridegroom who is passionate toward his bride. Does that Bridegroom portray Yahweh in His love for Israel? Drawing on Jewish tradition, Nicholas of Lyra interpreted the Song as Israel’s Song concerning Yahweh.[1] If that is accurate, then we may have grounds for concluding that the poem was originally intended as an allegory. Several lines of evidence point in this direction. Edenic allusions are abundant in the poem, most clearly in the eight uses of… Read more

The Song of Songs was among the most popular books for commentary in the Latin middle ages. Despite important variations in style and conclusions among these commentaries, the commentary tradition was largely allegorical. The Song of Songs was viewed as an allegory of the mutual love of Christ and His church, of Yahweh’s tortured love affair with the nation of Israel and Israel’s yearning for her promised Messiah, or as the longing of the individual soul for God. In this… Read more

Proverbs 31:10-12 describe the strong woman’s worth and value to her husband in general terms, but the section from verses 13-22 (the “dalet” through the “mem” sections) provides a detailed account of her dealings. The activities described in these ten verses are like a Decalogue of Wisdom, the Decalogue of the strong wife. One of the important typological dimensions of this description is an implicit link between the bride of this song and the Bride of Yahweh, the Bride of… Read more

Proverbs begins with the king instructing his son the prince to choose wisely between the women who vie for his attention. His father warns him about Lady Folly and urges him to seek out Lady Wisdom. In the final chapter, we find that the prince has chosen well: He has made Lady Wisdom his bride. As King Lemuel’s mother urged, he has renounced the women who destroy kings (31:3) and embraces the woman who enables him to rule well. It’s… Read more

In his 2005 Christmas encyclical, Deus caritas est, Benedict XVI explains why love has to be understood as both eros and agape , as ascending and descending love. He notes early on that the Bible rarely uses the word eros , arguing that “the tendency to avoid the word eros , together with the new vision of love expressed through the word agape, clearly point to something new and distinct about the Christian understanding of love.” As he notes, “these… Read more

Proverbs concludes with the portrait of the “excellent wife” (31:10). The portrait reaches back to the beginning of Proverbs and the portrait of wisdom. Like Lady Wisdom, the excellent wife’s value is far above jewels (v. 10; cf. 3:15; 8:11). Like Lady Wisdom, the excellent wife offers food (31:15; cf. 9:2, 5). The excellent wife brings gain (31:11), like Wisdom (cf. 3:14). Wisdom begins from the fear of Yahweh, which is precisely what animates the excellent wife (31:30). The final… Read more

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