The Catholic University of America

Jenislawski Defense

Mr. Eric Jenislawski presented his degree for the Doctors of Philosphy on Friday, December 11, 2015. His dissertation is titled, “A Comparative Study of the Hermeneutics of Henri de Lubac and Hans-Georg Gadamer.”


Final Examination of
Mr. Eric Jenislawski
for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Monday, November 16, 2015
11:00a.m., Caldwell Room 125

“A Comparative Study of the Hermeneutics of Henri de Lubac and Hans-Georg Gadamer”
Director: John T. Ford, CSC, S.T.D.
                This dissertation investigates and compares the hermeneutics of the French Jesuit theologian, Henri de Lubac (1896-1991), and the German philosopher, Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2001).  The writings of both Gadamer and de Lubac continue to generate scholarly investigation, including proposals to apply their insights to contemporary biblical interpretation.  Although de Lubac and Gadamer were contemporaries, they never directly engaged each other’s writings; this dissertation brings their thought into dialogue.
                Chapter One provides a biographical overview of the lives of both scholars by situating the texts that will be examined within their broader context.  Since de Lubac approached the subject of biblical interpretation chiefly as an historian of exegesis, the first step in this comparative investigation is a formulation of de Lubac’s hermeneutical principles.
Chapter Two, which constitutes the major portion of this dissertation, analyzes de Lubac’s worksCatholicismeHistoire et EspritExégèse médiévale, and La Postérité spirituelle de Joachim de Flore in view of understanding his hermeneutics.  An historical account of the formation of de Lubac’s theology of the four-fold sense of Scripture is provided, together with a description of its final synthesis.  This chapter proposes that de Lubac’s later works should be read in light of his writings of the 1930s in order to appreciate the scope of his desired integration of traditional interpretation and modern science.  This chapter also provides a more detailed analysis of the exegetical import of La Postérité spirituelle than previous literature.
Chapter Three examines the hermeneutics of Gadamer in Wahrheit und Methode.  The conclusion appraises the similarities and differences between de Lubac and Gadamer in their treatment of the role of tradition and community in interpretation.  The conclusion also explores the tension between their views on the role of faith in interpretation and suggests that certain principles of Gadamer’s general hermeneutics may provide the philosophical support that de Lubac desired for his theological hermeneutics of Scripture.
About Eric:
Eric J. Jenislawski was raised in Bristol, CT.  In 1991, he entered Yale University, originally to study Physics, but he had a conversion of heart to the humanities and he completed a dual program of study in Physics and Philosophy for his Bachelor's degree.  He then attended the Yale Divinity School and earned his Master of Arts in Religion degree with a concentration in Philosophical Theology and the Philosophy of Religion.  At Yale Divinity, he began formal study of Sacred Scripture according to the historical-critical method.  He studied patristic theology with the late Rowan Greer, and he also became familiar with the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer. 
He began teaching in the Connecticut Community College system in 1997 as an adjunct professor, teaching both philosophy and mathematics, and developing the online education program in philosophy.  He was married in 1999, and now has three children.  At the Catholic University of America, his major area of doctoral study is in systematic theology, with minor areas in historical theology and philosophy.  His interest in his doctoral dissertation topic, comparing the thought of Henri de Lubac and Hans-Georg Gadamer, arose from his study of patristic writing at Yale Divinity and the Catholic University of America as well as the continued scholarly interest in the works of both thinkers. 
Summary of Coursework
Doctoral Coursework in Theology
Vatican II: History and Theology
Liturgical Sources
Martyrdom and Sacrifice in Patristic Thought
Theology of the Church in Ecumenical Dialogue
History of Catholic Moral Theology
Justification: History and Dialogue
Contemporary Problems in Ecclesiology
Magisterium and Infallibility
Seminar and Directed Research: Modern Religious Thought:
Jews & Christians In Dialogue
Seminar and Directed Research: Catholic Theological Tradition: Karl Rahner
The Spiritual Senses
The Providence of God
The Theology of God in St. Thomas Aquinas
Revelation and Faith: Vatican I to Vatican II
The Trinity in Western Tradition
Doctoral Coursework in Philosophy
The Anthropology of John Paul II
Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations
Later Neoplatonism