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The Meaning of Tradition [Paperback]

By Op Yves Congar (Author), A. N. Woodrow (Author) & Avery Robert Cardinal Dulles (Author)
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Item description for The Meaning of Tradition by Op Yves Congar, A. N. Woodrow & Avery Robert Cardinal Dulles...

Some Christians claim to reject Tradition in preference to a supposedly "Bible only" Christianity. Catholics, on the other hand, venerate Tradition, yet often without adequately understanding it. In this masterful book, the great theologian Yves Congar explains why Tradition is an inescapable aspect of a fully biblical Christian faith. He explores the various forms of Tradition and discusses the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, as well as the role of the Magisterium of the Church. The Meaning of Tradition clears up misconceptions held by many Evangelical Christians and even some Catholics on this important subject. Congar's study of Tradition greatly contributed to the teaching of Vatican II and to a deeper appreciation of the Church Fathers.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Ignatius Press
Pages   172
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.25" Height: 7.75"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 30, 2004
Publisher   Ignatius Press
ISBN  158617021X  
ISBN13  9781586170219  

Availability  8 units.
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More About Op Yves Congar, A. N. Woodrow & Avery Robert Cardinal Dulles

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Yves Congar was a French Dominican cardinal and theologian.

Yves Congar was born in 1904 and died in 1995.

Yves Congar has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Modern Spiritual Masters
  2. Pueblo Books

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Catholic

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Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Roman Catholic

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Meaning of Tradition?

This is why Dominicans rule  Sep 19, 2008
I often heard that Congar was a dissenter, but I didn't get that impression at all from this book. His understanding of tradition is profound. Very insightful, short read.
Brief yet profound  Apr 7, 2008
This brief little guide is a must read for every Christian wishing to understand the place of the ancient Tradition of the church. Protestants who have so long downplayed or misunderstood tradition will find understanding here. Catholics and Orthodox believers will find much common ground and more depth in their understanding of this key theological distinctive. Perhaps the most profound point Dr. Congar makes is the linking of imitation as a key component to tradition. Note, for instance, the subtle connection of imitation and tradition underlying the apostle Paul's words of II Thessolonians - 2:15 through 3:7. If you glean nothing else from this work, that alone will serve you well in meditating upon the church and the believer as a member of an interpretative community. It should be evident that Jesus did not intend to leave behind a church of individualist-thinking Christians.

Not enough praise can be given to this pivotal work and the understanding it can bring. A great follow up to this great classic work would be Dr. Hahn's Letter and Spirit: From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy.
Credo Unam Sanctam Catholicam et Apostolicam Ecclesiam  Aug 11, 2007

"Tradition is memory, and memory enriches experience. If we remembered nothing it would be impossible to advance; the same would be true if we were bound to a slavish imitation of the past. True tradition is not servility but fidelity." Yves Cardinal Congar

"For Congar, Tradition is a real, living self-communication of God. Its content is the whole Christian reality disclosed in Jesus Christ. It is transmitted not only by written and spoken words, but equally by prayer, sacramental worship and participation in the Church's life." Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J.

Tradition and Traditions:
The process and content of the transmission of beliefs, doctrines, rituals, Scriptures, and life of the Church. As a process, tradition constitutes the modern sense of the whole life of the Church. Nor does it refer to traditions as a collection of traditions, that is, ecclesiastical customs. Rather "Traditions" refer to apostolic traditions, what is essential to faith. examples of traditions (in the Tridentine sense) would be the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist." Susan Wood, Encyclopedia of Catholicism

On Tradition:
"There is a sense in which the very notion of tradition seems inconsistent with the idea of history as movement and change. For tradition is thought to be ancient, hallowed by age, unchanged since it was first established once upon a time. It does not have a history, since history implies the appearance, at a certain point in time, of that which has not been before....Upon closer examination, however, the problem of tradition and history is seen to be more complex. Even the most doctrinaire traditionalist must be concerned with such questions as the authenticity of works ascribed to an ecclesiastical writer or of decrees ascribed to a council;... Thus both the variety of Christian teachings within history and their possible unity within tradition are integral to the subject matter..." Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition I

Living & Petrified Traditions:
These traditions lead us to suspect that tradition is not just a conservative force, but rather a principle that ensures the continuity and identity of the same attitude through successive generations. A sociologist defined it accurately: "Tradition, in the true sense of the word, implies a spontaneous assimilation of the past in understanding the present, without a break in the continuity of a society's life, and without considering the past as outmoded." In its different forms, tradition is like the conscience of a group or the principle of identity that links one generation with another; it enables them to remain the same human race and the same peoples as they go forward throughout history, which transforms all things.

Congar on Tradition & Sola Scriptura:
"The 'tradition' that is the subject of this little book is not scientific, artistic, sociological or even moral tradition; it is Christian tradition, in the dogmatic sense of the word. ..., and the conditions of life amid the religious divisions and entanglements of this world of ours will scarcely allow him to remain unaware of the existence of the controversy between Catholics and Protestants-the latter claiming the authority of Scripture alone, the former adding to it "tradition". For every Catholic, Scripture (the Old and the New Testament) enjoys pride of place, since its value is absolute. Thus he knows that he is bound to read holy Scripture in a "Catholic Bible", even though he may be unable to say in exactly what way a Catholic Bible differs from a "Protestant" one. He knows that the Bible by itself, left to personal interpretation, may result in erroneous positions in Christian belief the Christian sects remind him of this daily. He knows that since the Reformation there is controversy between Christians on 'Scripture versus tradition', a controversy on the rule of faith." Y. Congar

Self & Others Reviews:
"The first object of this book will be to examine what every Catholic knows already about the tradition by which he lives, for the purpose of clarifying what is usually a confused view of the subject. Matters will probably appear more complicated than he had suspected. " Congar
"When I have taught on Tradition to seminarians and graduate students I have regularly used this book. Congar is perhaps the greatest master of the theology of Tradition who has ever lived." Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J.

Yves Cardinal Congar:
The French Dominican theologian, and ecumenist Cardinal, may have been the most influential theologian of Vatican II. He was regarded as a dangerous innovator, and thus treated with suspicion, endured suspension from teaching and banishment, until restored by Pope John XXIII restored his scholarship, appointing him V-II Commision Peritus. Tradition and Tradions, book's original title (of first chapter) was his major collaboration, in the study conducted in the early sixties by WCC (World Council of Churches)
A great introduction on the meaning of Tradition in the Catholic Church  Jul 30, 2007
On my journey back to the faith this book helped me understand the Catholic concept of Tradition. Chapter III on Tradition and Scripture is the best short description on this topic that I have read.
A Clear and Easy to Understand Text  Dec 18, 2005
I must admit that I came to this text a Protestant with just a little knowledge of the Roman Catholic view of Tradtion. However, I am a frustrated Protestant since I firmly believe that my fellow Protestants have either ignored tradtion or have dismissed it altogether simply becasue it is a "Roman Catholic teaching."

Congar's book is a very well written text, quite easy to follow and can be read by anyone from a simple lay person with no background knowledge to a well educated individual who has studied the issues for years. Having read this book I now have a much better understanding of Tradition and a better understanding where Roman Catholics and Protestans differ in this issue. Let me summarize a few of these differences in this review.

At the end of chapter three Congar summarizes Tradition by declaring, "Tradition signifies, then, the Catholic spirit together with the living manner in which the whole apostolic deposit, whose subject is the Church, is transmitted." This is clearly a summation of Congar's overall view of Tradition, but is very telling and important for Protestants to grasp. Congar teaches that all the essential elements or features of Tradition are norms for the Church to in fact be the Church. This means Catholics begin with the reality in which Christianity is presented in history from Christ to the present day and how this reality is manifested in and through the Church is the underlining factor of the overall deposit presented to the Church by the apostles. Therefore, Scripture and Tradition are of equal authority. Congar confirms this when he declares, "And its real significance, to which the continuity of tradition bears witness, is that no article of the Church's belief is held on the authority of Scripture independently of tradition, and none on the authority of tradition independently of Scripture." (p.43)

Granted, Congar's remarks reflect a classic Catholic view of Scripture and tradition working together; there is reason, as Protestants, to be a bit cautious about this assertion. The reason for caution can be clearly seen historically in that the Roman Catholic Church, time and again, has placed Tradition over and against Scriptures repeatedly when deciding certain seemingly important issues not delineated in Scripture (e.g. Purgatory, Immaculate Conception of Mary, infallibility of the Pope/Magisterium, etc.) Congar confirms this notion when he declares, "Scripture and tradition do not have the same function; tradition envelops and transcends Scripture. It is more complete and could be self-sufficient." (p. 101, emphasis mine) This statement certainly seems to contradict Congar's previous assertion that tradition and Scripture cannot have independent authority from or over each other. I think the Catholic Church has much to answer for here, as most Protestants would perhaps agree.

With respect to Congar's work, I believe it was very helpful for me, as a Protestant, to understand more fully the place of tradition in Christendom. Albeit, I think there are some very strong differences between Catholics and Protestants that are warranted (mind you I am Protestant and think certain things need to be accounted for in the issue of Tradtion), but I have come to the conclusion that Protestans perhaps dismiss Tradition too quickly without understanding how it has helped to develop the essential doctrines that we as Protestants hold to (i.e. The Trinity, The deity of Christ, the actual Canon of the Bible, etc.).

I give Congar's book 4 stars based on my own disagreements with certain Catholic doctrines and how they are viewed via Tradition, but as a text on/about Tradition, I give the book five stars and think Protestants would do well to read it.

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