Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Newman and Stein: the desire for truth

From the Avvenire of today, 18 Jan 2017, the interesting news of the link between Newman and Edith Stein. Gerl-Falkovitz says:

Very few know that Edith Stein - herself a figure still to be fully discovered - had dedicated herself for several years to the study of John Henry Newman. Still, despite the several hundred pages translated, we must say that we are as yet unable to say much. [...]

Edith Stein worked at the translation of Newman from 1923, and soon afterwards, she devoted herself to Thomas Aquinas' Quaestiones disputatae de veritate, causing quite a sensation in neoscholastic circles. Two of the translations, Newman's The Idea of a University and Thomas' De ente et essentia, are still unpublished, even in the complete edition of the works of Edith Stein (ESGA, 28 volumes, Herder, Freiburg 2000-2017). The surprising quantity of texts translated after her baptism show Edith's clear desire to familiarize herself with the Catholic world, above all through philosophical reflection. [...]

With her translation, Stein places herself at the very beginning of the German reception of Newman and the scholarly study of his thought. In this sense, the work of translation is a "monument" whose value is not decreased by the differences with the thought of Newman that we are now aware of. On the contrary, from these [differences] it can find a deserved recognition. [...] Unfortunately, apart from the translations, we do not have any explicit reflection by Edith Stein on Newman, but the selection made in the Briefe und Tageb├╝cher vor der Konversion is eloquent. in a letter to her friend Roman Ingarden on 19 June 1924 Edith Stein makes this beautiful and important affirmation: "Translating gives me real joy. Besides it is very interesting for me to enter into such close contact with a spirit like Newman, something that every translation brings with it. His whole life was a search for religious truth and that led him inevitably to the Catholic church." [...] the faith of Edith Stein was similar to that of Newman: although she had a rich experience of the world, her faith found its source in modesty and in ascesis, up to the profound acceptance of external lack of success. Newman's unconditional commitment to the truth, that was the basis of his project of life, appeared in his texts prior to conversion in a preeminent way. [...] In The Development of Christian Doctrine (1845) he wrote:

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