The Love of Truth & The Truth of Love
Johannine literature explains the meaning of Jesus of Nazareth and our relationship with God in terms of logos and agape: the Logos is Theos (Jn 1) and Theos is Agape (1Jn 4). The goal of this dissertation is to relate these two, understanding and love, to develop a master analogy for the revelation of God to human beings. This is elaborated through close reading and commentary on classic texts by two Doctors of the Church, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, in an attempt to reconcile voluntarist and intellectualist approaches to the question of God by showing how the act of understanding is analogous with the act of love. Augustine would integrate his understanding of Scripture and philosophy into his theory of the inner word (verbum mentis) as the image of the Triune God. This consummate theological achievement is also a meta-analysis of personal communication by a master of the art of rhetoric, defined as “the good man, skilled in speaking” (vir bonus, dicendi peritus) by Cato the Elder in Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria. The Bishop of Hippo affirms the words of a wise person as the ideal of communication, as perfected in the life of the Christian evangelist. A systematic exegesis of Augustine’s personal, rhetorical, and theological synthesis, the first part of this dissertation is a study of several key texts to explore how the Doctor of Grace relates love with understanding, the words of Scripture with those of the philosophers. Thomas Aquinas develops Augustine’s insights in the theological system of his Summa theologiae, expanding the theory of the inner word into a theoretical synthesis uniting reason and faith, scientia and sapientia, which the Doctor of Grace was not able to achieve. The second part of the dissertation analyzes and complements the reading of Augustine in the first part by testing it in dialogue with Aquinas’ treatment of the same themes—understanding and love—in the First and Second Parts of the Summa as representative of his mature thought. The study of these two figures is intended as an attempt to apply Lonergan’s Method in Theology. By developing the relationship between knowing the truth and loving it, this project expands upon his efforts to sublate the linguistic phenomenology of Heidegger’s hermeneutic revolution within a theological system. Lonergan formulates his own hermeneutic as four levels of knowing: experiencing, understanding, judging, deciding. Having his insight on the centrality of love late in life, however, he would leave his interpreters with the question of how to integrate knowing with loving. The exigencies of publishing Method would also mean leaving the problem of communication as a challenge for his successors. This dissertation seeks to propose a solution with the retrieval of Augustine’s hermeneutic of caritas as a model for communicating Christian self-appropriation through a phenomenology of how we realize the logos. We understand the meaning of a whole by recognizing the order in which all its parts fit together. In this way, judgment operates analogically as a determination of the fittingness of a logical proportion. And so, as Logos, God is the order into which all things fit together, revealed to us as a complementary pattern, which is expressed through analogy. In the Catholic tradition, this pattern of grace is consummated by receiving bread and wine sacramentally, and recognizing in them the essence of our relationship with God as well as one another, as we realize this loving relationship as the form of all our acts.