Gift to the Church and World: Fifty Years of Joseph Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity

By John C. Cavadini and Donald Wallenfang (editors)

Perspectives on one of the most influential books in twentieth century Catholicism, and its continued relevance today.

ISBN: 9780227178829


Few books in theology have faced the twentieth century with all its horrors and yet revoiced the redemptive Christian antidote as convincingly as Joseph Ratzinger’s 1968 masterpiece, Introduction to Christianity. In Gift to Church and World, John Cavadini and Donald Wallenfang present papers from the conference held at the University of Notre Dame to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of this classic book’s publication and, through it, Ratzinger’s lasting influence on the world of Christian theology. Bishops, priests, and lay men and women set their hands to ‘the trowel of tribute,’ honoring the legacy of Joseph Ratzinger and the pivotal role he has played in the recent history of the Catholic Church.

Covering Ratzinger’s work on fundamental theology, philosophical theology, dogmatic theology, spiritual theology, and pedagogy, the essays gathered here shed new light on Ratzinger’s theological genius. Throughout, the authors return to his compelling expression of the divine call to reawaken to our true identity as beloved children of God. Altogether, readers will deepen their appreciation and understanding of the theological contributions of Joseph Ratzinger, and his continued relevance to mission and evangelisation today.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 152 mm
Pages 366
Illustrations 5 b&w

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

John C. Cavadini is the McGrath-Cavadini Director of the Institute for Church Life and Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author and editor of several books, including Pope Francis and the Event of Encounter and Explorations in the Theology of Benedict XVI.

Donald Wallenfang, OCDS, Emmanuel Mary of the Cross, is Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. He is the author and editor of several books, including Phenomenology: A Basic Introduction in the Light of Jesus Christ and Metaphysics: A Basic Introduction in a Christian Key.


List of Contributors
Introduction by John C. Cavadini

I. Overview and Context
1. Integral Faith Formation in the Spirit of the Second Vatican Council: Joseph Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity (1968), by Most Rev. Rudolf Voderholzer
2. The Articulation of Faith Between Memory and Recollection, by Rev. Richard Schenk, OP
3. The Reception of Einfürhrung in das Christentum among the Reviewers, by Tracey Rowland

II. Fundamental Theology
4. The Introduction to Christianity in Light of Principles of Catholic Theology, by Cyril O’Regan
5. Ratzinger on Lessing’s “Ugly Broad Ditch”: Augustinian Ressourcement and Modern Rationalism, by Rev. Aaron Pidel, SJ
6. An Introduction to Tradition in Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity, by Catherine R. Cavadini
7. An Introduction to Scripture in Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity, by Anthony J. Pagliarini

III. Philosophical Theology
8. Nein und doch: Ratzinger’s Philosophy of Renunciation in an Augustinian Key, by Donald Wallenfang, OCDS
9. “Being for” and Normativity in a Post-Durkheimian Age, by Anthony C. Sciglitano, Jr.

IV. Dogmatic Theology
10. Joseph Ratzinger’s “Spiritual Christology”, by Rev. Robert P. Imbelli
11. Touching the Void: Ratzinger’s Soteriology, by Francesca Murphy
12. The Homelessness of Pneumatology: Ratzinger on the Spirit and the Church in the Modern World, by Patrick X. Gardner
13. Hide and Seek: The Eschatology of Introduction to Christianity, by Leonard J. DeLorenzo
14. The Liturgical Metaphysics of Gift in Introduction to Christianity, by Timothy P. O’Malley

V. Spiritual Theology
On Christian Structures, by Clemens Sedmak
16. On the Absenting of Christ: Cruciform Beauty in Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity, by Jennifer Newsome Martin

Epilogue: “The Pedagogy of Introducing” by John C. Cavadini



Endorsements and Reviews

Joseph Ratzinger’s demanding and original Introduction to Christianity deserves a set of interlocutors able to rise to its own high level. It has found them in the studies collected here, ranging as they do from close-up snapshots of the work in its place and time to confrontations with a choice of theologians, culture-critics, filmmakers, and visual artists closer either to now or to home. Aidan Nichols, OP, author of The Thought of Pope Benedict XVI: An Introduction to the Theology of Joseph Ratzinger

This collection provides sixteen precious vignettes into Ratzinger’s celebrated classic Introduction to Christianity. These eminently scholarly perspectives celebrate a book that presents in 1968 divine-human relationality as the concrete Vatican II watershed. The authors convincingly argue that this christocentric shift grounds the believer in the life and charity of the Blessed Trinity, which in turn permits genuine interhuman charity to flourish. This volume is indispensable for understanding deeper Ratzinger. Most welcome and highly recommended! Emery de Gaál, Chairperson of Dogmatic Theology at Mundelein Seminary

This book identifies a classic that has never received the notice it’s due. Ratzinger’s Introduction is so much more than a book; it’s a pedagogy, a way of teaching. This fact shines through every contribution here, but especially in the pages that compare Ratzinger’s masterpiece with C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. Ratzinger did not simply introduce people to Christianity; he invited them into communion, where the mysteries lead to a living faith. Gift is the rare book that acknowledges the deeply mystical element in the theological task and a person’s intellectual life. Scott Hahn, founder and president of the St. Paul Center of Biblical Theology