Sunday, 25 October 2015

There is No Rose, by Aidan Nichols, OP

Aidan Nichols, OP, There is No Rose: The Mariology of the Catholic Church, 2015 Fortress Press

In recent years a number of popular level books have been published on the subject of Mariology, but I think there was a definite need for this new academic level treatment of the field of Mariology by Dominican theologian, Aidan Nichols.

Nichols sets the book in the context of debates between the Neo-Scholastic advocates of an high Mariology and post-Vatican II modernizers who seek to emphasise the Scriptural data on Mary, treating her primarily as an exemplary woman of faith. Nichols attempts to navigate a middle course inspired by the theology of ressourcement, acknowledging both the dogmatic developments of Mariology, while looking back to the Scriptural and Patristic sources.

As a Dominican theologian, Nichols is ideally placed to explain some of the Dominican reservations about the Immaculate Conception and he demonstrates how those objections were resolved. Moving on to Mary as Co-redemptrix, he sees two notions of co-redemption. There is an objective co-redemption, which is the part Mary played in the incarnation. This is basically a minimalist positon. However, other Catholics see a subjective co-redemption, which is the application of the work of salvation through the intercession of Mary. This is a more maximalist position. He also identifies another side to co-redemption, which is Mary's sacrificing of her son to the cross. This idea of Mary as Sorrowful Mother emerged in the Middle Ages and is very important in western liturgy and devotion, though it is largely absent from the Byzantine tradition. Nichols opts to call Mary the Mediatrix of Graces, rather than the 'Mediatrix of all Grace,' as he feels this better reflects Mary's position in the economy of salvation. Dealing with the Assumption of Our Lady, he looks at the issue of methodology, expressing dissatisfaction with the way the Neo-Scholastic advocates of the Assumption argued from logical necessity rather than through patristic sources. He also looks at the apparent confluct between church-type and Christ-type models of Mariology, concluding that neither model needs to be dominant.

This is a very insightful and inspiring short survey of the field of Mariology, though I would have liked Nichols to have set something about the Protoevangelium of James and the infancy traditions of Mary.

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