This volume, three separate books in one edition, is a collection of Josef Pieper's famous treatises on the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love. Each of these treatises was originally published as a separate work over a period of thirty-seven years, and here they are brought together in English for the first time.
The first of the three that he wrote,On Hope, was written in 1934 in response to the general feeling of despair of those times. His "philosophical treatise" on Faith was derived from a series of lectures he gave in the late 1950s and early 1960s. His most difficult work, one that he struggled with for years - and almost abandoned - was his workOn Love. Pieper now feels that this is the most important book he has written. He discusses not only the theological virtue ofcaritas-agape, but also of eros, sexuality, and even "love" of music and wine.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Josef Pieper's three essays on the theological virtues are here collected in one volume. Pieper employs and yet overcomes the complex scholarly/intellectual debates over the meaning and content of these virtues, and the results are investigations into faith, hope, and love which are deep and direct, learned and simple. Among the striking qualities of this collection is that the essays are not written from a purely theological point of view, but rather from a philosophical one. That is to say that Pieper begins by examining the theological virtues not from the point of view of revealed Scripture and Tradition, but rather from the point of view of the virtues as natural human phenomena -- which only later, at the point of grace, take on a theological cast. This presents to the reader a philosophical (critical but respectful) interpretation of theological matter and also provides a fresh comparison of philosophy and theology. Pieper's philosophical springboard is Thomas Aquinas, on whom Pieper has written extensively elsewhere, but his version of Aquinas speaks to moderns as well as to medievals. Each essay has a special quality of its own -- in 'Faith' Pieper discusses cogitatio as 'mental unrest' (simultaneous assent to the presented truth and a restless desire for further certainty); in 'Hope' Pieper shows how hope wihtout a theological meaning (i.e. 'natural hope') is not a virtue at all; and in 'Love' Pieper links the different kinds of love (e.g. the love of friends, the embrace of lovers, and the love of Mother Teresa) into the context of the unfathomable love of God for His creatures. These are a few hints at the treasures to be found in this book. While this collection can be read as merely a scholarly text, one is well advised to read it several times in life and to use it as a guide for one's thinking and acting.