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Theology and Spirituality: Strangers, Rivals, or Partners?

  • Sandra M. Schneiders (a1)

After tracing the history of the term “spirituality” and the discipline of spirituality up to the mid-twentieth century, this article describes the contemporary understanding of spirituality as lived religious experience and of the academic discipline which studies this subject. This phenomenology of the discipline grounds a position on the relationship between lived spirituality and theology on the one hand, and the academic disciplines of spirituality and theology on the other.

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1 See Alexander, Jon, “What do Recent Writers Mean by Spirituality?Spirituality Today 32 (1980), 247–48.

2 Besides the program at Institut Catholique in Paris and the Institute di Spiritualità at the Gregorian University in Rome there are several doctoral programs in the United States, notably at Fordham University in New York City and at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

3 The Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. Herbermann, C. al. (New York: Encyclopedia Press, 19131922).

4 New Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. Catholic University of America staff (New York: McGraw-Hill, 19671979).

5 Dictionnaire de Spiritualité Ascétique et Mystique, ed. Viller, M. (Paris: Beauchesne, 19371984).

6 The series began under the general editorship of Richard Payne and is being carried forward by John Farina.

7 Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality, ed. Wakefield, Gordon (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1983).

8 The history of the term “spirituality” was studied in great detail by Tinsely, Lucy, The French Expression for Spirituality and Devotion: A Semantic Study Studies in Romance Languages and Literatures, 47 (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1953).

9 See Jean Leclercq, augmenting Tinsley's work, in an article entitled ‘Spiritualitas’”, Studi Medievali 3 (1963), Ser. 3, 279–96. In this section of the paper I am much indebted to Leclercq.

10 For a brief summary of the relevant biblical material, see Sudbrack, Josel, “Spirituality,” Sacramentum Mundi (New York: Herder and Herder, 1970), 6:148–49.

11 See Leclercq, Jean, “Introduction,” tr. Coyne, Monique, The Spirituality of Western Christendom, ed. Elder, E. Rozanne (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1976).

12 Cf. Lumen Gentium V:4041.

13 Pourrat, Pierre, Christian Spirituality, 4 vols., tr. Mitchell, W. H. and Jacques, S. P. (Westminster: Newman, 19531955 [1927]).

14 Tanquerey, Adolphe, The Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetical and Mystical Theology, tr. Branderis, H. (2nd rev. ed.; Tournai: Desclee, 1930).

15 Ibid., p. vii.

16 Ibid., p. 1.

17 Ibid., p. 5.

18 Ibid., pp. 5-26.

19 Pourrat, , Christian Spirituality, 1:v.

20 Garrigou-Lagrange, Reginald, The Three Ages of the Interior Life, 2 vols., tr. Doyle, T. (New York: B. Herder, 1948).

21 Most notably, Revue d'ascétique et de mystique which began publication in 1920 changed its name to Revue d'Histoire de la spirituaiité in 1972.

22 Alexander, , “What do Recent Writers Mean?” pp. 251–52.

23 Panikkar, Raymundo, The Trinity and the Religious Experience of Man: Icon-Person-Mystery (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1973), p. 9.

24 Macquarrie, John, Paths in Spirituality (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), p. 40.

25 Wakefield, Gordon, “Spirituality,” Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality, ed. Wakefield, G. (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1983), p. 361.

26 Hardy, Richard P., “Christian Spirituality Today: Notes on its Meaning,” Spiritual Life 28 (1982), 154.

26 Williams, Rowan, Christian Spirituality: A Theological History from the New Testament to Luther and St. John of the Cross (Atlanta: John Knox, 1979), p. 1.

28 Duquoc, Christian, “Theology and Culture: Religious Culture, Critical Spirit, the Humility of Faith, and Ecclesiastical Obedience,” tr. Foster, J. R., in Concilium 19 (New York: Paulist, 1966), 89.

29 See Ricoeur, Paul, Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1976), p. 79.

30 See, on the nature of the field-encompassing field, Harvey, Van A., The Historian and the Believer: The Morality of Historical Knowledge and Christian Belief (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966), pp. 38–67, esp. 5459.

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  • ISSN: 0360-9669
  • EISSN: 2050-8557
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