S GUIDE TO COVENANTAL THEOLOGY
Why To Read This Book: On Children,
Grandmothers, and Grown-ups
In 1991, the first edition of Fr. Donald J. Keefe, S.J.'s two-volume
work, Covenantal Theology,
was published. It had three problems:
nobody read it, nobody understood what they read when they did read
it, and nearly everybody would have objected to the book even more
than they did, if they had understood it.
Covenantal Theology bears an Imprimi Potest, a Nihil Obstat, and
an Imprimatur. Fr. Keefe quite rightly wrote, in his Preface to the First
Edition, that these are only tentative guarantees that the book is faithful
to Catholicism. The Eucharist is in the end its own protection. (This is
one of the many facts that seems just silly nonsense nowadays.)
Fr. Keefe did something very important in his book. He
reconverted Catholic theology precisely to that Eucharistic Event, the
New Covenant in the Lord's Blood, which will be the judge not only of
Fr. Keefe's work but of all theological works, and which is in fact
Catholic theology's sole object of study. No science could more
urgently need a re-turning to what it ought to be studying, for Catholic
theology has long -- long -- been wandering away from the only reality
that can matter to it -- or to anyone.
Not that any of the wandering was necessarily a sin. There is a big
difference between a mistake, and a sin. Theology is a science, and
scientists do make mistakes. If we are lucky, other scientists will
eventually correct the old mistakes, and, if we are very lucky, the
questions the new scientists ask, and therefore, the mistakes they will
make, will be of a higher quality than had previously been possible.
We call the process of scientists asking better questions, making
higher-quality mistakes, "progress." There has been precious little of
such progress within the theological science of the last several hundred
years, for by and large the questions theologians have asked during all
those years have not been better questions, and theologians have not
made higher-quality mistakes, but only the same ones, over and over.
Only time will tell, but one day, Fr. Keefe's accomplishment, in
Catholic theology, may be compared to Albert Einstein's, in physics; it
1. Keefe DJ (1996). Covenantal theology: the
eucharistic order of history. Revised edition (2
vols. in one, with Appendix). Novato, California:
Presidio Press. A limited number of copies are
available for purchase from: Prof. Kevin
McMahon, 41 Constance Street, Bedford, NH
03110, kmcmahon [AT] anselm [DOT] edu.
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.