Becoming One in the Paschal Mystery
This dissertation offers a new systematic interpretation and retrieval of the theology and spirituality of the 12th century master Hugh of St. Victor, an interpretation centered on the Triune LORD’s unifying and reforming work in history in the three days of Jesus Christ’s dying, burial, and rising. Seen from the vantage of Hugh’s treatise On the Three Days, these ‘three days’ of Jesus Christ’s ‘Passover’ are, for Hugh, the plenary revelation of the Trinity in history – and so an eschatological disclosure – and are at once the soteriological and spiritual center of his theology. The work of the dissertation is, in part one, to explore the objective polarity of the LORD’s work in the three days. This entails an in-depth treatment of Hugh’s christology, including the currently contested and historically misconstrued territory of Hugh’s doctrine of the hypostatic union. Moreover, the project brings out the integral connections between Hugh’s doctrine of the hypostatic union and his soteriology of the re-formation of all of history in the three days. This triadic soteriological scheme in turn correlates to three degrees of theological language and of Triune self-revelation in history. The task of part two of the dissertation is to study the subjective polarity of Spirit-enabled human participation in Christ’s dying, burial, and rising. Hugh’s spirituality and practice of theology are explored as means of human re-formation unto wonder, wisdom, and charity – in short, unto mystical and ultimately eschatological union with God – through participation in the paschal mystery. These chapters thus systematize and explore aspects of Hugh’s thought as diverse as the communal formation at the Abbey of St. Victor, humility, study of the liberal arts and memorization of Scripture, theological meditation, allegorical and tropological biblical interpretation, works of charity, and the responsive eros of Hugh’s contemplative mysticism, all as means of sharing, by turns, in Christ’s dying, burial, and rising. The third and final part of the dissertation attempts a contemporary practice of Hugonian theology. It places the Hugonian theology retrieved in parts one and two in the context of the reception of Laudato Si’ in order to offer a christological and mystical companion to Pope Francis’ encyclical. It argues that the ‘ecological conversion’ for which Pope Francis calls, as a subjective participation in Christ, implicitly depends upon a robust enough objective christology to make the summons to particularly ‘ecological’ conversion coherent and compelling. Hence the contemporary eco-christologies of Sallie McFague and Celia Deane-Drummond are studied and adjudicated. Finally, on the basis of the gains accrued in the course of those eco-christological engagements, a renewed Hugonian christology and soteriology is proposed as a framework for and aid to the spiritual and moral implementation of Laudato Si’. Ecological conversion is itself, most properly, a process of human re-formation in the three days of Jesus Christ’s Passover, and hence practical efforts to teach and implement Laudato Si’ benefit from a Hugonian theological and spiritual approach.