Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Religious Studies

First Advisor

Doran, Robert M.


In 1958, the Canadian Jesuit theologian Bernard Lonergan (1904-1984) completed a draft of a major text on redemption. He stated that the text was to be an addition to his book De Verbo Incarnato, with the purpose of explaining the historical causality of Christ. The Lonergan Research Institute, Toronto, has produced a preliminary English translation titled The Redemption: A Supplement to De Verbo Incarnato. To date, there has been no interpretation of this text. This dissertation aims at making a contribution towards the remedy of this lacuna in Lonergan studies. The dissertation interprets Lonergan's understanding of the historical causality of Christ, through an interpretation of his text.

The dissertation employs the methodology of what Lonergan named the 'hermeneutical circle:' the meaning of the whole is grasped through the parts, and the parts through the whole. In this dissertation, each chapter is interpreted in the wider context of the whole. Each chapter is also interpreted in the order presented in Lonergan's text, since that text is organized according to what Lonergan, following Aquinas, calls the ordo disciplinae or ordo doctrinae, the order of learning and teaching, the ideal mode of explaining systematic understanding.

Lonergan's understanding of the historical causality of Christ follows from his understanding of history itself, where the fundamental unit is culture and the fundamental nature of human causality is social. Lonergan understands culture through a set of terms and relations he names the 'human good of order.' This order is an expression of cultural meanings and values, whether for good or evil. The historical causality of Christ involves a proper causal series in which God's redemptive agency is mediated into human history, through Christ and his members, to transform cultural evil into good by transforming cultural meanings and values. The principal meaning and value is the 'Law of the Cross.' According to the divine plan, this law is the governing principle of salvation history. Since human causality is fundamentally social, the historical causality of Christ is mediated through others who understand this law and judge it as worthy to be chosen.

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