Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TOB and the Bible

A few years ago I had a wonderful conversation with Father William Kurz, SJ  of Marquette University. He had just finished a monograph on the Scriptural Foundations of Theology of the Body, and today I found it online. (Lucky me, he had sent me an advance copy shortly after our conversation, so I have been able to draw on his insights for quite some time!) Download it now [with a right click and "save link as...]

Father Kurz is a Scripture scholar, and offers a pretty accessible summary of Pope John Paul's insights. Where some Bible experts have looked at Theology of the Body and shrugged at its approach to Scripture, Kurz (who can do historical criticism with the best of them--indeed, he teaches it) recognizes that the Pope was doing something that didn't fit in the academic categories. Clearly, John Paul was not offering an exegesis, or an analysis of the various manuscript traditions, or a cultural-anthropological study. Instead, Kurz says, the Theology of the Body fits into the best of the biblical traditions: it is a "wisdom" reading of the Scriptures, such as you find in books like Sirach and Ecclesiastes. This kind of reading takes the divine message as a whole, rather than piece by piece, and sees the unity of God's word as it offers a message for our own times that would not have been needed in former ages (just as we find it hard to read the Bible with the lens of someone from the 3rd or 9th or 13th centuries).

This paper can be helpful especially for biblically-grounded readers to get an overall sense of what the Theology of the Body is, and how its teachings draw from Scripture, applying it to our own culture's concerns, questions and dilemmas.

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