The relationship between Christology and Mariology in the writings of Karl Rahner

Edward L Shirley, Fordham University


Karl Rahner was one of the most influential Catholic theologians of the twentieth century. One of the areas to which he devoted numerous articles and a book is Mariology. The author of this thesis seeks to explore the relationship between Rahner's Christology and Mariology. He begins by examining Rahner's anthropology. Human subjects are historical beings with a transcendental orientation toward God, who must look to history for a possible Word of God. The author then proceeds to examine Rahner's theology of grace, looking at Rahner's concept of Uncreated grace operating as a quasi-formal cause, and the offer of God's self-communication as the supernatural existential. Next, the author begins to explore Rahner's Christology, starting with the question of how the Logos became flesh and proceeding to Rahner's notion of Christology within an evolutionary world view. Then, the author turns to Rahner's Mariology. He begins with a chronological survey of the relevant writings and the place Mary plays in Catholic theology. Then he explores the various Mariological themes developed by Rahner. Next, using Rahner's own Mariology as a barometer, the author examines the relationship between Rahner's concept of Original Sin and his treatment of the Immaculate Conception, and offers a critique of Rahner's understanding of the hypostatic union vis a vis the assertion that Mary is the one who has fully responded to God's offer of himself. Finally, the author offers some reflections on two areas in which Rahner's Mariology might be further developed. Mary as model of the feminine face of God and the Church (including the relationship of Mary to the priesthood), and the role Mariology can contribute to the greater integration of the Church's social teaching into the theology as a whole.

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Recommended Citation

Shirley, Edward L, "The relationship between Christology and Mariology in the writings of Karl Rahner" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9025023.