book review

1)Bibliographical information should head the first page of the review according to the following format:SHARING IN CHRIST’S VIRTUES: FOR A RENEWAL OF MORAL THEOLOGY IN LIGHT OF VERITATIS SPLENDOR.By Livio Melina. Trans. William E. May. Washington, DC: CUA Press, 2001.Pp x + 211.$24.95.2)The body of the review should not exceed 525 words.3)Reviewers should give their name and location (institution and/or city) at the end of the review.4) Please indicate the total word count for the body of the review (i.e., everything except bibliographical information, name and institution).5)When running off book reviews make one copy for the instructor and post an electronic copy on the course Bb site (in the Discussion Board section) for access by other members of the course.Additional Guidelines/Suggestions1)Page numbers may be cited in parentheses if you use direct quotations from the text.2) Typical format:First paragraph: give the context.Who is the author debating with?What studies have preceded it?What are the theological or other issues which the book seeks to address?Does the book serve to advance scholarship?Second paragraph:Describe the thesis of the book–in the light of the preceding paragraph.Third paragraph:Describe briefly the structure or contents of the book–i.e. try to show the logical development of the thesis in the structure of the text.If the book does not have a thesis or does not hang together this is a point for criticism.3)What kinds of sources are used?What is the principle which guides their selection?4)Look for pertinent ideas or themes which run throughout the text.5)Identify the strengths of the text.Identify its weaknesses.6)Do you recommend it or not?and if you recommend it, for whom? for what purpose? at what level (introductory or research)?7)Does it have an index?(i.e., can it be easily used as a resource–librarians in particular like to know this).8)Examples of proper style and format may be found by consulting the reviews in Theological Studies.The instructor will provide a list of books from which students may choose.Titles not on the list are welcome but should be approved by the instructor before work begins.It is recommended but not required that students choose a book pertaining to the topic on which they intend to write their paper.The book could then be one of the three required theological sources.Due date: March 16Completion of this assignment is intended to result in the following Student Learning Outcomes:Interpret theological texts of different eras and genres with care and precisionExpress theological ideas and arguments clearly in writing.Utilize scholarly tools effectively for continued learning in the discipline of theology.
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ST. AUGUSTINE ON NATURE, SEX, AND MARRIAGE. By John J. Hugo. Princeton, NJ:
Scepter Publishers, 1998. Pp. 237. $38.95.
This book first appeared from the same publisher in 1969 in the wake of Humanae
Vitae. Although Hugo, a Catholic priest, does not mention the papal encyclical directly, he
does make it his expressed purpose to defend the relevance of Augustine’s moral theology
for the Catholic Church today, particularly with reference to contraception (21). Hugo
relies heavily upon Étienne Gilson’s The Christian Philosophy of St. Augustine (1960) for his
analysis. The book reappeared in 1998 with no evident changes except for a brief preface
added by Ronald Lawlor, O.F.M. Cap.
Hugo seeks to establish the truth and relevance of Augustine’s sexual ethics by
answering two major criticisms of his thought (21). In answer to the charge that
Augustine’s thought is tainted by Neoplatonism, Hugo seeks to show that “Always he
assimilated into Christianity whatever of Platonism was useful, rejecting whatever he could
not thus assimilate” (33). The second criticism is that Augustine’s idea of “concupiscence”
amounts to calling natural sexual desire evil. Hugo avers that concupiscence, which does
correspond to natural desire for Augustine, is not evil in itself but is only called such
because it arises from evil and leads to evil due to original sin (70). Hugo states these two
theses directly. The real unifying thesis is unstated, but it is clearly that Augustine was
right and that his teaching is identical with Catholic teaching all the way through Vatican II.
The argument proceeds in two parts. The first part, pages 31-92, is an exposition of
Augustine’s doctrine of man from his mature works (after 391). It is in this section that
Hugo argues his two stated theses. The second part of the book, pages 93-188, consists in
application of Augustine’s theory of man to sexual ethics, particularly from De Bono
Coniugali and other treatises related to marriage. He places particular emphasis on the fact
that the three goods of marriage which Augustine gives the Church—children, mutual faith,
and sacrament (119)—are inseparable (143). The quality of Hugo’s argumentation varies.
His demonstration that Augustine thought man to be a unity of body and soul (33),
contrary to Neoplatonism, has merit. On the other hand, Hugo begins chapter three with an
explanation of why Thomas Aquinas thought natural sexual desire to be good and then
proceeds to read Aquinas back into Augustine. He claims that Augustine thought fallen
man’s nature to be “intact” but in “a disordered state.” This “disorder” does not become
evil until it entices the will (63). The problem is that, for Augustine, disorder is evil, as
Hugo’s own second chapter implies. Although desire remains problematic, Hugo does
prove, from the innocence of marital sex intended for procreation, that Augustine did not
think sexual pleasure was inherently sinful.
As a scholarly study on what Augustine actually thought, this book has limitations.
It does contain a subject index, an author index, and a chronology in the back, but the
bibliography has not been updated from the original 1969 version, and the endnote format
makes it difficult to track Hugo’s interaction with the secondary literature. As a spirited
defense of the Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception, however, the book is worth
reading.
Catholic University of America
BRETT W. SMITH
Word count: 525
Possible Books to Review for TRS 201
1) Does God exist?
Plantinga, Alvin. God and Other Minds.
_____ (ed.). The Ontological Argument: From St. Anselm to Contemporary Philosophers.
Feser, Edward. Five Proofs of the Existence of God.
Kenny, Anthony J. P. The Five Ways: Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Proofs of God’s Existence.
2) Is the Bible true?
Kitchen, Kenneth. On the Reliability of the Old Testament.
Oswalt, John N. The Bible Among the Myths.
Pontifical Biblical Commission. The Inspiration and Truth of Sacred Scripture: The
Word that Comes from God and Speaks of God for the Salvation of the World.
Warfield, B.B. The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible.
3) Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
Craig, William Lane. Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the
Resurrection of Jesus.
Habermas, Gary, and Anthony Flew. Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? The Resurrection
Debate.
Wenham, John. Easter Enigma: Are the Resurrection Accounts in Conflict?
Wright, N.T. The Resurrection of the Son of God
4) On what basis can God justify a sinner?
Castaldo, Chris. Justified in Christ: The Doctrines of Peter Martyr Vermigli and John
Henry Newman and Their Ecumenical Implications.
Lutheran-Roman catholic Joint Commission. Church and Justification: Understanding
the Church in Light of the Doctrine of Justification.
Tavard, George H. Justification: An Ecumenical Study.
5) Why did God become man in the person of Jesus?
Cole, Graham. The God Who Became Human: A Biblical Theology of Incarnation.
Monahan, William B. St. Thomas Aquinas on the Incarnation.
6) What does it mean to say Jesus is really present in the Eucharist?
Abbot Vonier. A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist.
Journet, Charles. The Mass: The Presence of the Sacrifice of the Cross
Müller, Michael. The Blessed Eucharist: Our Greatest Treasure.

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