Vol 2, No 1, 2004

AeJT Vol 2

From the Editor

This second edition of The Australian Ejournal of Theology (AEJT) reaches you with the news that it has now been added to the Register of Refereed Journals compiled by The Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST). An explanation is provided in the Addendum below.

View the full editorial

Editorial

Gerard Hall SM

This second edition of The Australian Ejournal of Theology (AEJT) reaches you with the news that it has now been added to the Register of Refereed Journals compiled by The Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST). An explanation is provided in the Addendum below.

Many major issues confronting Church and society are covered in the Journal's articles. Two matters of utmost importance, treated by various scholars, are ethical decision-making and Christian identity in an age of pluralism. Our invited international scholars initiate these discussions.

AEJT is also fortunate in being able to publish an article on the nature of the Catholic university by one of the foremost scholars in this field. What follows is a brief overview of these and other contributions to this volume of the Journal.

Ethics, of course, is a discipline and activity which challenges all human beings. New ethical challenges are emerging almost daily.  Former answers and even approaches are not universally convincing even in orthodox Christian circles. AEJT is particularly grateful for the international perspectives articulated here by Jan Jans (Tilburg University, Netherlands) and Joseph Selling (Catholic University Leuven, Belgium). Christian theological ethics needs to embrace both the sources of the Christian tradition and the sources of contemporary life in all its complexity. Ethics, unlike politics, is "the art of the desirable" which is, nonetheless, carried out by flawed human beings living in an imperfect world. It is heartening to be told that "this very imperfection is both the shelter and the splendour of ethical truth". Other contributors - Richard Wade, Gary Curran and Yuri Koszarycz - provide insight into ethical issues in animal theology and genetic engineering.

If ethics is an interdisciplinary and multi-cultural activity, interreligious dialogue is its natural partner. Is it still possible to be faithful to Christian core-belief in the universality of Christ without being imperialistic or relativist? Both international voices on the topic - Harvey Egan (Boston College) and Timothy  Radcliffe (Former Master General of the Dominicans) - provide a resounding "yes" to this question. Both stress that Christian faith is in process of reinterpretation and transformation. Belief in the universality of God's saving truth in Jesus was never meant to be an ideology of exclusion. The Christian story needs to be retold in light of  theconquest of the Americas , the Holocaust and September 11th. Perhaps we need a more radical vision of what it means to be Christian. Raimon Panikkar, no stranger to students and scholars of multi-religious dialogue, proposes such a vision which Gerard Hall presents and critiques.

Of less global significance, perhaps, is the meaning of a Catholic university in today's secular and pluralist world. This is, nonetheless, an immediate issue for many contributors and readers of this Journal. James Heft (Dayton University, Ohio) was invited to Australian Catholic University in August-September 2003 to assist in this discernment. His paper enunciates five specific challenges: creation of community in an individualistic culture; reinstating faith with reason to challenge "academic dualism" (only reason counts) and "apatheism" (belief in God without caring much about God); clear affirmation of Catholic principles without falling into secularist or sectarian excesses; commitment to moral and ethical formation; and use of philosophy and theology as important sources of wisdom in the creation of a Catholic vision of university. Robyn Horner takes up the particular issue of what it means to teach theology in a university that is both Catholic and public.

Other articles and contributions are difficult to organize under generic headings. What most share, however, is an interdisciplinary approach to theology. For example, Tony Kelly demonstrates the potential for deconstruction in philosophical and theological discourse. Damien Casey finds in the world of literature, specifically in the writings of Tolkein, a fruitful basis for theology. Bronwen Neil and Sophie McGrath use historical research as a catalyst for bringing historical (and literary) figures to life in a way that informs and challenges theological thought. Several authors, notably Susan Smith (University of Auckland), Paul Mulqueen and James MacDonald use biblical research methods in their respective approaches to the Gospels of Mark and Luke and the "empty tomb tradition."

Classical and often practical theological concerns -- with particular reference to the Roman Catholic Church -- are the subject of contributions on: ecclesial communion (Anthony Gooley); the role of women in the Church (Ruth Henderson); and use of the catechism in religious education (Matthew Ogilvie - University of Dallas). Worth noting here is that Jan Jans, Tony Kelly and Matthew Ogilvie all found their arguments in the writings of that most famous of all Catholic theologians, St. Thomas Aquinas.

The volume has also been fortunate enough to gain four of the six pastoral and theological reflections of The Brisbane Archdiocesan Liturgy Symposium, 4th December 2003, in celebration of forty years since the promulgation of The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. These contributors from St Paul's Theological College and The Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission - Tom Elich, Elizabeth Harrington, Ursula O'Rourke, Orm Rush - provide much food for thought with reference to past practices, current challenges and future possibilities for liturgical renewal.

The volume also contains two book reviews: Adrian Hasting (ed.), A World History of Christianity; and David Ford (ed.), The Modern Theologians (revised). Finally, in line withAEJT's policy of encouraging theological creativity in the arts, there is a selection of poetry and art - work by contributors representing Australia, North America, Malta and the Fiji Islands.

My appreciation to all contributors. We received many comments on our first edition which were most encouraging for our work. We have also taken on board as far as possible constructive criticisms for the improvement of AEJT. One of the critiques of the first volume was the small number of women authors represented within that issue. This volume goes some way towards redressing the balance, and I take this opportunity to encourage more women voices in the future. It goes without saying that we can only publish what we receive.

My particular thanks to Yuri Koszarycz for his outstanding skills in technical presentation. He, Bet Green and generous others have also contributed hours of work in editing texts. Thank you to the reviewers and referees - especially Professor Kelly who took on the task of organising most of the refereeing for this volume.

AEJT Vol 3 (August 2004)

The next volume of AEJT is due to be "live online" in August 2004. All articles should be in the hands of the Professor Tony Kelly ("Acting Editor") and/or Mr Yuri Koszarycz ("Technical Editor") by 1st June. These should be in electronic form. Correspondence should also be directed to Professor Kelly and/or Yuri Koszarycz. You are welcome of course to contact other members of the Editorial Board. Please note that the Editor will be on study-leave until July 2004.

Future contributors should also follow the approved outline of how to prepare articles for electronic publication in AEJT.

The August 2004 edition of AEJT will be a tribute to Fr John Thornhill SM, foremost Australian theologian and past contributor to Theology@McAuley. Dr Thornhill, Marist priest and theologian, has many distinctions which AEJT would like to acknowledge in a formal way. These include his roles as: Director of The Catholic Theological Union (Toongabbie and Hunters Hill) and Sydney's Aquinas Academy; founding member of The Australian Catholic Theological Association; first Australian member of The International Theological Commission; author of numerous academic works; teacher and mentor of many current theological educators in Australia - and beyond. Colleagues and students of Fr Thornhill are especially invited to submit articles for this volume.

Gerard Hall SM

Editor

12th February 2004

 

Addendum

The fact that an article appears in the Register of Refereed Journals means that it satisfies the peer-reviewed requirements according to criteria established by The Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST). However, inclusion on the Register does not automatically mean that all articles in the journal are to be considered "research publications" according to the processes of the Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC). Apart from being validated/verified by "peer-review", articles must meet the following criteria: 

  • substantial scholarly activity, as evidenced by discussion of the relevant literature, an awareness of the history and antecedents of work described, and a format which allows a reader to trace sources of the work through citations, footnotes, etc.;
  • originality, that is, it is not a compilation of existing works;
  • increasing the stock of knowledge; and
  • being in a form that enables dissemination of knowledge.

The types of journal articles that may meet the criteria include:

  • commentaries and communications of original research;
  • critical scholarly texts which appear in article form;
  • articles reviewing multiple works or an entire field of research;
  • invited papers in journals;
  • articles in journals which are targeted to both scholars and professionals.

Articles in this current edition of AEJT are categorized under various headings. These categories do not in themselves imply that an article is or is not a "research publication" as defined by HERDC. The responsibility for showing this remains with the author. We simply follow the protocol of "peer-reviewing for scholarly works" (as requested) as distinct from other contributions including pastoral reflections and opinions, book reviews, art works, work-in-progress and essays which are more synthetic than analytic. Often, of course, it is these latter contributions that are more creative, readable and helpful for the theological enterprise of communicating the mystery of God's self-communication to the world. Indeed, we wish to encourage every form of theological expression in order to celebrate theology in all its diversity.