The Lord of History
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By Jean Daniélou, S.J.
Christianity makes the sublimely singular claim, in the arresting phrase of Joseph Ratzinger, “that the fate of history, our fate, depends on one individual: Jesus of Nazareth.” The Lord of History is a fitting title, then, to Jean Daniélou’s extended examen of the mystery of history, a sweeping synthesis of Scripture, the Church Fathers, and the living tradition. First, Daniélou sets forth the relationship between sacred and profane history; second, he provides a detailed analysis of the economy of salvation, in which God’s wonders are the primary matter and mover alike; and, in conclusion, he discusses six particular virtues (courage, poverty, sincerity, zeal, gnosis, and hope) requisite for the Christian to participate fully on “the stage and scene of divine action.”
Sacred history is not restricted to the contents of the Bible, but is still going on: we are living in sacred history. God still accomplishes his mighty works… (Jean Daniélou, S.J.)
Releasing the tension in Aristotle’s dictum that to poetry belongs the universal and to history the particular, The Lord of History employs scientia and symbolism in equal measure to access the mystery of history. This mystery is that God, by the Incarnation, has transformed time from a mere chronicle into the drama of salvation played out in each person and across the entire cosmos.
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Jean Daniélou, S.J., (1905–1974) was among the leading theologians of the twentieth century. Renowned for his scholarship in the field of Patristics, Daniélou was the author of numerous works, including The Advent of Salvation, Prayer as a Political Problem, and the three-volume History of Early Christian Doctrine.