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Theological Profiles: Selected Essays, Volume 2

In the second volume of his two-volume collection of essays from the 1980s to 2018, renowned Catholic theologian David Tracy gathers profiles of significant theologians, philosophers, and religious thinkers. These essays, he suggests, can be thought of in terms of Walt Whitman’s “filaments,” which are thrown out from the speaking self to others—ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary—in order to be caught elsewhere.

Filaments arranges its subjects in rough chronological order, from choices in ancient theology, such as Augustine, through the likes of William of St. Thierry in the medieval period and Martin Luther and Michelangelo in the early modern, and, finally, to modern and contemporary thinkers, including Bernard Lonergan, Paul Tillich, Simone Weil, Karl Rahner, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Iris Murdoch. Taken together, these essays can be understood as a partial initiation into a history of Christian theology defined by Tracy’s key virtues of plurality and ambiguity. Marked by surprising insights and connections, Filaments brings the work of one of North America’s most important religious thinkers once again to the forefront to be celebrated by longtime and new readers alike.

432 pages | 4 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2020

Philosophy: Ethics, Philosophy of Religion

Religion: Christianity, Philosophy of Religion, Theology, and Ethics


“These volumes will do justice to North America’s preeminent Catholic thinker for the past forty years, as well as contributing significantly to his legacy. Tracy has earned this distinction over a lifetime of conversation and argument on matters philosophical and theological. He is a religious thinker whose thought is woven into the fabric of the disciplines, and which very different thinkers can take up for very different reasons.”

Cyril O’Regan, University of Notre Dame

“Tracy is himself a Rome-like theologian, whose intellectual imagination and wide-ranging interests entice him continually into new byways of thought, more and diverse thinkers, and revised perspectives on old interests. These latest volumes, comprised of essays and talks given over more than forty years, invite the reader into the ancient city of Tracy’s theology. . . . [The volumes] gather essays spanning five decades, imposing structure on a set of reflections from one of the most visionary and expansive living theologians. If we cannot by these volumes summit the mountain of Tracy’s theology, we must admit that is because there is no peak to crest. There is instead an ancient city to explore, teeming with gifts of erudition and liberality, pointing us to Alps upon Alps.”

Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"To read [it] is to be educated and enriched by a remarkable breadth of inquiry and depth of analysis... Tracy's passion for theological conversation is... fuelled by a desire for justice and peace, but also by wonder at the unending love and creativity of God." 

Critical Theology

"David Tracy has a good claim to be the most prominent Catholic theologian of the last half-century in North America and one of the leading Catholic voices of his generation worldwide. . . . These substantial volumes of studies by Tracy spanning over four decades exhibit consistently one of the most appealing features of his work, a deep intellectual generosity that is willing to tease out from the work of figures to whom you would expect him to be antipathetic significant perspectives and questions deserving positive exploration."

The Journal of Religion

Table of Contents


Part 1: Ancients, Medievals, Moderns

1              Augustine Our Contemporary: The Overdetermined, Incomprehensible Self
2              Augustine’s Christomorphic Theocentrism
3              Trinitarian Theology and Spirituality: Retrieving William of St. Thierry for Contemporary Theology
4              Martin Luther’s Deus Theologicus
5              Michelangelo and the Catholic Analogical Imagination

Part 2: Mentors

6              Reinhold Niebuhr: God’s Realist
7              “All is grace”: Karl Rahner, a Rooted Radical
8              Paul Tillich and Contemporary Theology: The Method of Correlation
9              Bernard Lonergan and the Return of Ancient Practice in Philosophy and Theology

Part 3: Conversation Partners

10           Fragments of Synthesis: The Hopeful Paradox of Louis Dupré’s Modernity
11           The Strength of Reason: Franklin Gamwell’s Philosophical Theology and Moral Theory
12           Lindbeck’s New Program for Theology: A Critical Reflection
13           Jean-Luc Marion: Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, Theology

Part 4: Prophetic Thought

14           Feminist Theology: The Unexampled Challenge
15           Arthur Cohen: The Holocaust as the Tremendum
16           Gustavo Gutiérrez and the Christian Option for the Poor
17           James Cone and African American Thought: A Discovery of Fragments

Part 5: Seekers of the Good

18           Simone Weil and the Impossible: A Radical View of Religion and Culture
19           Simone Weil: The Mask, the Person
20           Iris Murdoch and the Many Faces of Platonism
21           T. S. Eliot as Religious Thinker: Four Quartets

Name Index
Subject Index

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