Review: A Priestly People: Baptismal Priesthood and Priestly Ministry

A Priestly People: Baptismal Priesthood and Priestly MinistryA Priestly People: Baptismal Priesthood and Priestly Ministry by Jean-Pierre Torrell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a wonderfully insightful look into the emerging theology of the priesthood of all the faithful, a theology that has ancient origins but which is largely unknown in the life of the Church. The author, Jean-Pierre Torrell op, professor emeritus of theology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and a specialist in the thought of St Thomas Aquinas, bring his considerable intellect and research – and careful methodology – to bear on the scriptural, patristic and conciliar sources as he explores how best to understand a theology/spirituality of the baptismal priesthood, and how the ordained priesthood (or priestly ministry as Torrell calls it) interacts with and serves the baptismal priesthood.

From the back cover:

Priest, presbyter, bishop, overseer, elder, deacon – what do these terms really mean? How did they evolve from the earliest days of Christianity to what we now know as bishops, priests and deacons? How do they relate to the “priesthood of all the baptized” – and indeed, which is “higher.” the latter or the ordained priesthood?

Renowned Dominican theologian Jean-Pierre Torrell provides a thoughtful and thought-provoking discussion of these and other questions concerning the priesthood and the sacrament of Orders and the fact that all the baptized are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood,” as 1 Peter expresses it. In his search for the Truth Torrell, like his spiritual brother Aquinas, has no ideological axe to grind. He simply marshals his vast array of resources spanning from Scripture itself through the Church Fathers and medieval theologians right up to the Second Vatican Council, puts them into conversation, and lets them speak for themselves. A Priestly People should be required reading for all preparing for orders as well as all students and teachers of dogmatic, sacramental, and liturgical theology and ecclesiology.

I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment…

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