|About the Book|
The French Dominican theologian Yves Congar (1904-1995) coined the term total ecclesiology in his ground-breaking outline for a theology of the laity, Jalons pour une theologie du laicat (1953). At bottom there can be only one sound and sufficient theology of laity, he wrote, and that is a total ecclesiology. This study presents a systematic analysis of Congars striving for a total ecclesiology, that is, an ecclesiological synthesis that does justice to the mystery of the Church in all its dimensions, as exhibited both in his published work from the first half of his career and also in unpublished materials from the same period. The unpublished papers examined in this study include Congars These du Lectorat- lecture notes for ecclesiology courses given at the French Dominican House of Studies, Le Saulchoir, and in German prisoner-of-war camps- and the incomplete manuscript of the treatise De Ecclesia that he drafted from 1948 to 1954. These texts effectively chronicle the development of his intended treatise De Ecclesia over nearly twenty-five years.-This study seeks to explicate the meaning and role of a total ecclesiology in his early theology of the Church and suggests that the pursuit of a total ecclesiology is an appropriate interpretive lens for a comprehensive reading of his early ecclesiology. In presenting and analyzing for the first time the content of Congars unpublished course materials and draft texts for his treatise De Ecclesia, this study demonstrates that the aspiration for ecclesiological synthesis that he expressed numerous times in his published writings from 1931 to 1954 was accompanied by substantial unpublished efforts to develop a comprehensive treatise that would accomplish that aim. It shows that Congar pursued an integral ecclesiological synthesis, not just as the product and goal of theological reflection on the Church, but also as the method for carrying out that reflection. This study concludes by reflecting on Congars contribution to the Second Vatican Council and the fact that in his judgment the Council itself laid substantial foundations for a total ecclesiology, which was perhaps the reason that Congar never completed his De Ecclesia project.