Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Theology, Rhetoric, Manuduction, or Reading Scripture Together on the Path to God

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Theology, Rhetoric, Manuduction, or Reading Scripture Together on the Path to God

Article excerpt

Theology, Rhetoric, Manuduction, or Reading Scripture Together on the Path to God. By Peter M. Candler, Jr. [Radical Traditions:Theology in a Postcritical Key] (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 2006. Pp. xii, 190. $26.00 paperback.)

Do not be put off by the unfortunate title of this thought-provoking book. Candler's aim is to reorient theology by recovering the medieval practice of reading. Unlike post-Reformation, post-print, post-Cartesian reading, understood as a transfer of data from the page to the reader, medieval reading leads the reader by the hand (hence, "manuductio") along an itinerary toward the wisdom that is the Son of God (p. 48), a journey that repeats the exitus / reditus pattern of Scripture.This practice of reading is learned in liturgy, where the Book of Scripture is carried in procession into the congregation, so that the people draw near to it. Likewise, the readings pass from Old Testament to Psalm to Epistle to New Testament, drawing toward the center and aim, Jesus. Theology nurtured on such reading does not aim to produce systematic, complete, closed, encyclopedic structures of propositions but rather participates in the ongoing community of interpretation that is the church (p. 125). Past masters are engaged in a continuing conversation that leads along an itinerary to knowledge of God that is not cognitive, but moral, an apprenticeship in divine love (p. 124).

Candler terms this practice of reading a "grammar of participation" (in contrast to a modern "grammar of representation"), and he analyzes its operation chiefly in Augustine's Confessions, the Glossa Ordinaria^ndThomas'Summa Theologiae. Augustine reorients rhetoric from persuasion to conversion, centering reading and preaching Scripture on memory (not recollection of the past but remembrance, keeping in mind, as when we speak of "remembering where you came from"). Memorial reading leads to the right relation to God, caritas, joining the individual to the Church's peregrination through the world back to God.

The Glossa, he argues, is misread if seen as bringing the biblical text into relation with the text of commentary. Rather, Scripture echoes in memory as heard in liturgy. In the pages of the Glossa, the voice of Scripture gathers voices that respond to it, forming an icon of the indivisibility of Scripture and tradition while keeping them distinct (p. 82). Tradition here is no deposit of knowledge but an activity, the ongoing interpretive conversation that is the life of the Church. …

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