Final Examination of Patrick James Fletcher
For the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
December 3, 2010 10:00a.m., Caldwell Room 125
Chad Pecknold, Ph.D.
Both St. Augustine and Joseph Ratzinger have written in detail on the resurrection of the body, a topic which was the center of a lively debate in the 20th century. St. Augustine formed his theology of resurrection in part as a response to the dualistic devaluation of the body present in Platonism, a theme which Ratzinger grappled with in his writings on the resurrection.
This study seeks to answer the question as to whether, and to what extent, Joseph Ratzinger’s theology of the resurrection of the body can be described as “Augustinian.” In order to do this, four “Augustinian characteristics” are first educed by a detailed study of Augustine’s own theology of resurrection, paying particular attention to how Augustine deals with Platonism (a topic central to the 20th century debate on the resurrection in which Ratzinger was involved). Then, Ratzinger’s theology of resurrection is considered under the headings of these “Augustinian characteristics” in order to determine how, and to what extent, Ratzinger’s views can be described as “Augustinian.”
This study shows that Ratzinger’s theology of resurrection can be termed “Augustinian” in that the key characteristics of Augustine’s mature eschatology come more and more to the fore in each successive Ratzingerian writing on the resurrection. Ratzinger brings his own unique approach to eschatology, and in his theology of resurrection he does not simply imitate Augustine. There is, however, a common trajectory shared by the two theologians. Both began with a theology partly influenced by certain dualistic elements, and both gradually purified that theology throughout their lives, moving in the direction of a greater physical realism. In this way, Ratzinger’s correspondence to Augustine is not static, but dynamic. Their similarity lies not only in shared ideas, but in a shared trajectory.