The following is adapted from the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

SCHEEBEN, Matthias Joseph (1835–88), German Catholic theologian. He was educated at the Gregorian University in Rome (1852–9), ordained priest in 1858, and was professor of dogma at the seminary at Cologne from 1860 to his death. Already in his first speculative work Natur und Gnade (1861) he outlined his doctrine of the supernatural, which he describes as a participation in the Being of God, and popularized this conception in Die Herrlichkeiten der göttlichen Gnade (1863, an independent version of a work of the 17th-cent. author, E. Nieremberg), which had an immediate success and was translated into many languages. In his profound, though sometimes obscure, Mysterien des Christenthums (1865) he attempted to build up the whole organism of Christian doctrine, viewed as a supernatural cosmos with the mystery of the Blessed Trinity as its centre. In the following years his dogmatic work was interrupted by the controversies raised by the impending Vatican Council, in which he took a vigorous part as one of the chief opponents of J. J. I. von Döllinger and a passionate defender of Papal Infallibility. Between 1873 and 1887 he wrote his Handbuch der katholischen Dogmatik, a work of immense erudition, based on Thomist principles but also making extensive use of the Fathers as well as of modern theologians. Scheeben stood for the rights of supernatural faith against the rationalist and naturalist tendencies of 18th- and 19th-cent. theology which had been rife esp. in Germany and Austria.

Gesammelte Schriften, ed. J. Höfer (8 vols., Freiburg i.B., 1941–67). Eng. trs. of Die Mysterien des Christentums by C. Vollert, SJ (St Louis, 1946), and of Natur und Gnade by id. (ibid. and London, 1954). J. Hertkens, Professor M. J. Scheeben: Leben und Wirken eines katholischen Gelehrten im Dienste der Kirche (1892). K. Feckes and others, M. J. Scheeben (Mainz, 1935). F. S. Pancheri, OFM, Il pensiero teologico di M. J. Scheeben e S. Tommaso (1956), with bibl.; B. Fraigneau-Julien, PSS, L’Église et le caractère sacramentel selon M.-J. Scheeben (1958); N. Hoffmann, SSCC, Natur und Gnade: Die Theologie der Gottesschau als vollendeter Vergöttlichung des Geistgeschöpfes bei M. J. Scheeben (Analecta Gregoriana, 160; 1967); E. Paul, Denkweg und Denkform der Theologie von Matthias Joseph Scheeben (Münchener theologische Studien, II. Systematische Abteilung, 60; 1970), with extensive bibl; U. Sander, Ekklesiologisches Wissen: Kirche als Autorität: Die ‘Theologische Erkenntislehre’ Matthias Joseph Scheebens als antimodernistische Theologie der Moderne (Frankfurter Theologische Studien, 54; 1997). T. F. O’Meara, OP, Church and Culture: German Catholic Theology, 1860–1914 (Notre Dame, Ind., and London [1991]), pp. 53–67. K.-H. Minz in Dict. Sp. 14 (1990), cols. 404–8, s.v.


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