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What is the most important question in the study of religion?

Rev. David Coffey discusses what he thinks is the most important question in the study of religion. He states that all his life he has focused on central questions of religion, such as the question of the nature of God. He wrote a book on the Trinity, which he points out to be a very complex question, for example, explaining the different understandings of the Holy Spirit found in eastern and western traditions.

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Playing Time: 3:51 minutes

About the Interviewee:

Rev. Dr. David Coffey is a priest in the Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia. He received the Doctor of Sacred Theology from the Catholic Institute of Sydney, and was appointed to the faculty in 1962. From 1964 to 1966 he pursued further theological studies with Michael Schmaus and Karl Rahner at the University of Munich, Germany. Father Coffey returned to the Catholic Institute of Sydney in 1967, where he served as Dean of the Faculty from 1970 to 1975, and President of the Faculty from 1976 to 1981. In 1975, he became a founder of the Australian Catholic Theological Association, and served as the Association’s President in that year and again in 1990.

In 1991, Rev. Dr. Coffey came to the United States to the University of St. Louis, where he served as Visiting Professor in the Aquinas Institute. In 1995, he accepted an appointment to the Presidential Chair at Marquette University, renamed in 1999 to the William J. Kelly, S.J. Chair in Catholic Theology. His theological interests go to the very heart of the Christian faith: Pneumatology, Christology, the doctrine of the Trinity. These interests are reflected quite accurately in the titles of his four books: Grace: The Gift of the Holy Spirit (Catholic Institute of Sydney, 1979); Believer, Christian, Catholic (Catholic Institute of Sydney, 1986); Deus Trinitas: The Doctrine of the Triune God (Oxford University Press, 1999); and The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Liturgical Press, 2001). He has written numerous articles reflecting these same interests. Fr. Coffey returned to Australia in 2005 where he lectures and serves the diocese of Sydney.

About the Interviewer:

Dr. Alfred Benney is a professor of Religious Studies at Fairfield University. He has a Ph.D in Theology from the Hartford Seminary Foundation and teaches courses in Non-Traditional American Religions and Christian Religious Thought. His research interests include "how people learn"; "the appropriate use of technology in teaching/learning" and "myth as explanatory narrative". He has published work on teaching with technology.

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