The Catholic University of America

Rev. Joseph G. Elamparayil Defense

Final Examination of Rev. Joseph G. Elamparayil

For the degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 2:00 p.m., Caldwell Room 125


John T. Ford, C.S.C., S.T.D.


John Henry Newman’s Lectures on the Prophetical Office of the Church: A Contextual History and Ecclesiological Analysis

In order to provide an ecclesiological foundation for the Oxford Movement (a reform movement within the Church of England), John Henry Newman (1801-1890) gave a series of lectures in 1834 and 1836 in the Adam de Brome Chapel of St. Mary’s Church, Oxford. His presentations were later published as Lectures on the Prophetical Office of the Church Viewed Relatively to Romanism and Popular Protestantism (18361; 18372). The third edition of the Prophetical Office was published in 1877 with revisions, notes and a new Preface.

This dissertation provides a contextual history and an ecclesiological analysis of Newman’s Prophetical Office. The first part of this study examines the historical background of the Prophetical Office, beginning with Newman’s early ideas of the Church, which he learned from his study of the Fathers of the Church and the Arian controversy. Next is an account of the impressions of the Church that Newman derived from his first encounters with the churches of Greece and Rome during his Mediterranean voyage (1832-1833) and his ecclesiological reflections in his four-part essay, “Home Thoughts Abroad.” This dissertation then examines the Tracts for the Times that Newman wrote on ecclesiological topics (1833-1837) during the Oxford Movement and also discusses the influence on his ecclesiology of his discussion with both a Roman Catholic opponent, Abbé Jean-Nicolas Jager (1790-1868), and an Anglican friend, Richard Hurrell Froude (1803-1836). 

The second part of this study is an ecclesiological analysis of the fourteen lectures of the Prophetical Office, along with the revisions, notes and new Preface that Newman added in 1877.  This analysis, which examines the characteristics and principal themes of Newman’s theological thought, shows that Newman’s Prophetical Office represents a comprehensive ecclesiology.

In sum, this dissertation provides a contextual history as well as an ecclesiological analysis of Newman’s Prophetical Office, which was his “major constructive work in ecclesiology” yet which until now has received insufficient attention and recognition.