USML | Dr. Matthew Levering

Books By Faculty

Dr. Matthew Levering

Natural Law: A Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Trialogue

Co-authored with David Novak and Anver Emon.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

From the Publisher: 

This book is an examination of natural law doctrine, rooted in the classical writings of our respective three traditions: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic. Each of the authors provides an extensive essay reflecting on natural law doctrine in his tradition. Each of the authors also provides a thoughtful response to the essays of the other two authors. Readers will gain a sense for how natural law (or cognate terms) resonated with classical thinkers such as Maimonides, Origen, Augustine, al-Ghazali and numerous others. Readers will also be instructed in how the authors think that these sources can be mined for constructive reflection on natural law today. A key theme in each essay is how the particularity of the respective religious tradition is squared with the evident universality of natural law claims. The authors also explore how natural law doctrine functions in particular traditions for reflection upon the religious other.


Paul in the Summa Theologiae

Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2014.

From the Publisher: 

Aquinas’s commentaries on St. Paul are well known and have received significant attention in the past few years. It is widely known, too, that Aquinas quotes Paul often in the Summa theologiae. This aspect of the Summa, however, has not been studied in detail. This book seeks to fill that lacuna in scholarship. The book’s brief introduction treats Aquinas as a biblically erudite theologian, and offers some basic statistical data regarding his use of Paul in the Summa theologiae. The book’s nine chapters track in detail Aquinas’s use of Pauline quotations in his theological argumentation. The first six chapters examine Paul in particular "treatises:" the triune God, grace, charity, the virtue of religion, the Passion of Christ, and baptism. The last three chapters investigate Pauline texts as they are used throughout the Summa: Romans 1:20, 1 Corinthians 13, and Philippians 2:5–11. Chapters 1–3 are organized by the order of the treatise; chapters 4–6 are organized by order of the Pauline letters. This multi- faceted procedure provides a rich, detailed picture of Aquinas’s use of Paul in the Summa. The guiding question is whether, and if so how, we can describe Aquinas’s theology as Pauline or as deeply influenced by Paul. Aquinas does not seek to understand Paul’s theology in its Second Temple context, and Aquinas often uses Pauline texts in a way that takes them out of context or that uses them in response to a theological problem unknown to Paul. Levering argues that Aquinas’s theology is indeed deeply Pauline, offering ample evidence that Aquinas captures the central Pauline themes and gives them a central place in his own theology.


The Theology of Augustine: An Introductory Guide to His Most Important Works

Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013.

From the Publisher: 

Most theology students realize Augustine is tremendously influential on the Christian tradition as a whole, but they generally lack real knowledge of his writings. This volume introduces Augustine's theology through seven of his most important works. Matthew Levering begins with a discussion of Augustine's life and times and then provides a full survey of the argument of each work with bibliographical references for those who wish to go further. Written in clear, accessible language, this book offers an essential introduction to major works of Augustine that all students of theology--and their professors!--need to know.



The Feminine Genius of Catholic Theology

London: T. & T. Clark, 2012.

From the Publisher: 

This book introduces Catholic doctrine through the crucible of the women mystics' reception of the gospel.The work of thegreat women theologians of the Church's second millennium has too often been neglected (or relegated to the category of ‘mysticism') in textbooks on Catholic doctrine.This is a shame, because their work shows the interior conjunction of liturgical experience(broadly understood), scriptural exegesis, philosophical reflection, anddoctrinal/creedal formulation. Drawing on their work, this book presents the tenets of Catholic faith in a clear and accessible manner, useful for introductory courses as well as for students and scholars interested in the contributions of women to Catholic theology. Women theologians in this book include Catherine of Siena, Theresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, Simone Weil and others.



Jesus and the Demise of Death: Resurrection, the Afterlife, and the Fate of Christians. 

Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2012.

From the Publisher: 

What happens after death to Jesus and to those who follow him? Jesus and the Demise of Death offers a constructive theology that seeks to answer that very question, carefully considering both Jesus' descent into hell and eventual resurrection as integral parts of a robust vision of the Christian bodily resurrection. Taking on the claims of N.T. Wright and Richard B. Hays, Matthew Levering draws strongly upon the work of Thomas Aquinas to propose a radical reconstruction of Christian eschatological theology--one that takes seriously the profound ways in which Christianity and its beatific vision have been enriched by Platonic thought and emphasizes the role of the Church community in the passage from life to death. In so doing, Levering underscores the hope in eternal life for Jesus' followers and gives readers firm and fruitful soil upon which to base conversations about the Christian's future.


Predestination: Biblical and Theological Paths

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

From the Publisher: 

Predestination has been the subject of perennial controversy among Christians, although in recent years theologians have shied away from it as a divisive and unedifying topic. In this book Matthew Levering argues that Christian theological reflection needs to continue to return to the topic of predestination, for two reasons: 

Firstly, predestinarian doctrine is taught in the New Testament. Reflecting the importance of the topic in many strands of Second Temple Judaism, the New Testament authors teach predestination in a manner that explains why Christian theologians continually recur to this topic. 

Secondly, the doctrine of predestination provides a way for Christian theologians to reflect upon two fundamental affirmations of biblical revelation. The first is God's love, without any deficiency or crimp, for each and every rational creature; the second is that God from eternity brings about the purpose for which he created us, and that he permits some rational creatures freely and permanently to rebel against his love. When theologians reflect on these two key biblical affirmations, they generally try to unite them in a logical synthesis. Instead, Levering argues, it is necessary to allow for the truth of each side of the mystery, without trying to blend the two affirmations into one. 

Levering pairs his discussion of Scripture with ecumenically oriented discussion of the doctrine of predestination in through the ages through the figures of Origen, Augustine, Boethius, John of Damascus, Eriugena, Aquinas, Ockham, Catherine of Siena, Calvin, Molina, Francis de Sales, Leibniz, Bulgakov, Barth, Maritain, and Balthasar. He concludes with a constructive chapter regarding the future of the doctrine.


The Betrayal of Charity: The Sins that Sabotage Divine Love

Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2011.

From the Publisher: 

Love was at one time a powerfully unifying force among Christians. In his letters, Paul consistently evokes charity as the avenue to both human and divine communion. If the magnitude of charity was of the upmost importance to early Christians, so were those sins that aimed to distract Christians from acting based on love. Taking seriously the efforts of Paul, and later Thomas Aquinas, to expose and root out the sins against charity, Matthew Levering reclaims the centrality of love for moral, and in fact all, theology.

As Levering argues, the practice of charity leads to inner joy and peace as well as outward mercy, good will, and unity with God and neighbor. The sins against charity—hatred, sloth, envy, discord and contention, schism, war and strife, and sedition and scandal—threaten love’s concrete effects by rebelling against dependence on God and undermining interdependence on others. The Betrayal of Charity seriously considers the consequences of each of the sins against love, compelling individuals and communities to recognize their own loss of charity. In doing so, Levering
fosters a spirit of restoration and reminds readers that love—not the sins against it—will have the last word.


Jewish-Christian Dialogue and the Life of Wisdom: Engagements with the Theology of David NovakNew York: Continuum, 2010.

From the Publisher: 

This book inquires as to whether theological dialogue between Christians and Jews is possible, not only in itself but also as regards the emergence of communities of Messianic Judaism. In light of David Novak's insights, Matthew Levering proposes that Christian theological responses to supersessionism need to preserve both the Church's development of doctrine and Rabbinic Judaism's ability to define its own boundaries. 

The book undertakes constructive philosophical theology in dialogue with Novak. Exploring the interrelated doctrines of divine providence/theonomy, the image of God, and natural law, Levering places Novak's work in conversation especially with Thomas Aquinas, whose approach fosters a rich dialogue with Novak's broadly Maimonidean perspective. It focuses upon the relationship of human beings to the Creator, with attention to the philosophical entailments of Jewish and Christian covenantal commitments, aiming to spell out what true freedom involves.

It concludes by asking whether Christians and Jews would do better to bracket our covenantal commitments in pursuing such wisdom. Drawing upon Novak's work, the author argues that in the face of suffering and death, God's covenantal election makes possible hope, lacking which the quest for wisdom runs aground.


Christ and the Catholic Priesthood: Ecclesial Hierarchy and the Pattern of the Trinity Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2010.

From the Publisher: 

The leading figures of the Enlightenment and the Reformation (and leading up to Catholic theologians of our own day) have subjected Catholic understanding of ecclesial hierarchy and sacramental mediation of the priesthood to a withering critique. Christ and the Catholic Priesthood: Ecclesial Hierarchy and the Pattern of the Trinity will establish the foundation for a theology of the hierarchical priesthood based on the hierarchical order of the Trinitarian gift, of love. Matthew Levering's brilliant original study systematically analyzes in detail the nature of Christ's priesthood, Christian hierarchical priesthood, and sacramental mediation.

The book's five chapters approach the topic of hierarchy in the Church through Trinitarian and soteriological reflection, unified by dialogical engagement with the biblical, patristic, and metaphysical resources of St. Thomas Aquinas's theology



Participatory Biblical Exegesis: A Theology of Biblical Interpretation.  Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008.

From the Publisher: 

The interpretation of Scripture has depended largely on the view of history held by theologians and exegetes. In "Participatory Biblical Exegesis", Matthew Levering examines the changing views of history that distinguish patristic and medieval biblical exegesis from modern historical-critical exegesis.Levering argues for a delicate interpretive balance, in which history is understood both as a process that participates in God's creative and redemptive presence and as a set of linear moments. He identifies a split between theological and historical interpretations of scripture beginning in the high Middle Ages, considerably earlier than the emergence of historical-critical methods in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Instead, he offers a vision of Scripture that is rooted in the exegetical practice of St. Thomas Aquinas and his sources but embraces historical-critical research as well."Participatory Biblical Exegesis" provides an original theological basis for critical exegesis. It integrates the work of contemporary exegetes, philosophers, theologians, and historians to provide a compelling vision of biblical interpretation.



Natural Law: A Theocentric and Teleological Approach.  

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

From the Publisher: 

Natural law theory is controversial today because it presumes that there is a stable 'human nature' that is subject to a 'law.' How do we know that 'human nature' is stable and not ever-evolving? How can we expect 'law' not to constrict human freedom and potential? Furthermore if there is a 'law,' there must be a lawgiver. Matthew Levering argues that natural law theory makes sense only within a broader worldview, and that the Bible sketches both such a persuasive worldview and an account of natural law that offers an exciting portrait of the moral life.

To establish the relevance of biblical readings to the wider philosophical debate on natural law, this study offers an overview of modern natural law theories from Cicero to Nietzsche, which reverse the biblical portrait by placing human beings at the center of the moral universe. Whereas the biblical portrait of natural law is other-directed, ordered to self-giving love, the modern accounts turn inward upon the self. Drawing on the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, Levering employs theological and philosophical investigation to achieve a contemporary doctrine of natural law that accords with the biblical witness to a loving Creator who draws human beings to share in the divine life. This book provides both an introduction to natural law theory and a compelling challenge to re-think current biblical scholarship on the topic.


Ezra and Nehemiah: A Theological Commentary

Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2007.

From the Publisher: 

This volume, like each in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, is designed to serve the church--through aid in preaching, teaching, study groups, and so forth--and demonstrate the continuing intellectual and practical viability of theological interpretation of the Bible.






Sacrifice and Community: Jewish Offering and Christian Eucharist. 

Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.

From the Publisher: 

This book explores the character of the Eucharist as communion in and through sacrifice. It will stimulate discussion because of its controversial critique of the dominant paradigm for Eucharistic theology, its reclamation of St Thomas Aquinas’s theology of the Eucharist, and its response to Pope John Paul II’s Ecclesia de Eucharistia

    • Argues that the Eucharist cannot be separated from sacrifice, and rediscovers the biblical connections between sacrifice and communion.
    • Timed to coincide with the Year of the Eucharist, proclaimed by Pope John Paul II.
  • Reclaims the riches of St Thomas Aquinas’s theology of the Eucharist, which had recently been reduced to a metaphysical defence of transubstantiation.


Holy People, Holy Land: A Theological Reading of the Bible

Co-authored with Michael Dauphinais.  Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2005.

From the Publisher: 

The Bible doesn't come with a secret decoder ring, which means that it is left to church theologians to make sense of the Bible's many intricate and overlapping themes. Over the centuries, the church has identified several themes--such as love and covenant--that have helped the faithful to better understand a sometimes bewildering book.

In Holy People, Holy Land, authors Dauphinais and Levering make the case that holiness--which they define as communion with God through love of neighbor--is the central theme of Scripture. Holy People, Holy Land will give any reader the tools to better understand Scripture by showing how a holy God desires to recreate his children in his image so that they too can be holy.



Scripture and Metaphysics: Aquinas and the Renewal of Trinitarian Theology.

 Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.

This book makes a major contribution to contemporary theological and philosophical debates, bridging scriptural and metaphysical approaches to the triune God.

  • Bridges the gap between scriptural and metaphysical approaches to biblical narratives.
  • Retrieves Aquinas’s understanding of theology as contemplative wisdom.
  • Structured around Aquinas’s treatise on the triune God in his ‘Summa Theologiae’.
  • Argues that intellectual contemplation is part of a broader spiritual journey towards a better understanding of God.
  • Contributes to the current resurgence of Thomistic theology in both Protestant and Catholic circles.



Christ's Fulfillment of Torah and Temple: Salvation According to St. Thomas Aquinas. 

Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002.

From the Publisher: 

A concise introduction to the Christian theology of salvation in light of the contributions of Thomas Aquinas. In the study, Matthew Levering identifies six important aspects of soteriology, each of which corresponds to an individual chapter in the book. Levering focuses on: human history understood in light of the divine law and covenants; Jesus the Incarnate Son of God and Messiah of Israel; Jesus' cross; transformation in the image of God; the Mystical Body of Christ into which all human beings are called; and eternal life. Taking the doctrines of faith as his starting point, Levering's objective is to answer the questions of both Christians and non-Christians who desire to learn how and for what end Jesus "saves" humankind. Levering's work also speaks directly to contemporary systematic theologians. In contrast to widespread assumptions that Aquinas's theology of salvation is overly abstract or juridical, Levering demonstrates that Aquinas's theology of salvation flows from his reading of Scripture and deserves a central place in contemporary discussions. As a Thomistic contribution to theology, this study seeks to develop a theology of salvation in accord with contemporary canonical readings of Scripture and with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council on the fulfilment and permanence of God's covenants.


Knowing the Love of Christ: An Introduction to the Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. 

Co-authored with Michael Dauphinais.  Notre Dame: University  of Notre Dame Press, 2002.

* French edition published as: À la découverte de l’amour de dieu. Un Introduction à la théologie de saint Thomas d’Aquin.  Trans. Giovanna Brianti.  Paris: Parole et Silence, 2005.

From the Publisher: 

Knowing the Love of Christ provides a thorough introduction to the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas in accessible language. As a complement to the many short introductions to St. Thomas’s philosophy, this book fills a gap in the literature on Thomas—a comprehensive introduction to his thought written by theologians. With enthusiasm and insight, Michael Dauphinais and Matthew Levering make available the vast theology of Thomas Aquinas.

Focusing upon the Summa Theologiae, Dauphinais and Levering illumine the profoundly biblical foundations of Thomas’s powerful vision of reality. Drawing upon their own experience, the authors guide readers into grappling with the fresh and penetrating insights of St. Thomas. Students at all stages of theological education will find this book an enriching introduction to the mysteries of the Christian faith.
Books Co-Edited or Edited


Heaven on Earth? Theological Interpretation in Ecumenical Dialogue

Co-edited with Hans Boersma.  Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.









Reading Romans with St. Thomas Aquinas

Co-edited with Michael Dauphinais. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2012. 








The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity

Co-edited with Gilles Emery, O.P. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.








Ressourcement Thomism: Sacra Doctrina, the Sacraments, and the Moral Life. 

Co-edited with Reinhard Hütter.  Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2010.








Rediscovering Aquinas and the Sacraments: Studies in Sacramental Theology. 

Co-edited with Michael Dauphinais.  Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2009.








Vatican II: Renewal within Tradition

Co-edited with Matthew L. Lamb. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.








 John Paul II and the Jewish People: A Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Co-edited with David G. Dalin.  Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.







Wisdom and Holiness, Science and Scholarship: Studies in Honor of Matthew L. Lamb

Co-edited with Michael Dauphinais.  Naples, FL: Sapientia Press, 2007.







 Aquinas the Augustinian

Co-edited with Michael Dauphinais and Barry David.  Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press,  2007. 







John Paul II and St. Thomas Aquinas

Co-edited with Michael Dauphinais. Naples, FL: Sapientia Press, 2006.








John with St. Thomas Aquinas: Theological Exegesis and SpeculativeTheology.

 Co-edited with Michael Dauphinais.  Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2005.







Marriage and the Family: Classic and Contemporary Texts. 

Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005





Prayer and Contemplation: Classic and Contemporary Texts

Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.








 Christian Dying: Classic and Contemporary Texts

Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004.








On the Priesthood: Classic and Contemporary Texts

 & Littlefield, 2003.


To see this video you need to upgrade to the latest HTML5 compatible browser or download Adobe Flash Player.