Christ and Analogy: The Christocentric Metaphysics of Hans Urs von Balthasar

As one of the pillars of the nouvelle theologie movement, a main influence upon the Second Vatican Council, and one of the few figures to complete a full-scale multi-volume systematics, Hans Urs von Balthasar is undoubtedly one of the towering figures of twentieth-century theology. Until now, the structural undergirding of von Balthasar’s main contribution, a weighty 15-volume, three-part “triptych” dogmatics, has not been assessed. In this volume, the author presents an analysis of von Balthasar’s work in dogmatics and provides the structural linchpin for understanding the whole of this massive (and massively important) systematic theology by reconstructing the metaphysics of von Balthasar. Taking the person of Jesus Christ as the metaphysical starting point, the project highlights the fundamental connections to key doctrinal, historical, and philosophical issues. This is a critical volume for professors, scholars, and students in systematic theology, philosophical theology, and the study of twentieth-century Catholic and Protestant theology and history.

This entire project is prologue to a future monograph on von Balthasar’s theology, with special reference to Trinity, Christology, and the doctrine of grace.

Christ and Analogy is now available at Amazon.


Abbreviations vii
Preface ix

  1. Introduction 1
    1. Theology’s Handmaid 1
      1. What Is Metaphysics? 2
      2. What Is Theology? 4
      3. The Relation of Metaphysics and Theology 5
      4. Sacred Metaphysics 8
    2. Never-Ceasing Fountain: Von Balthasar’s Sources 10
      1. Plato and the Question of Platonism 12
      2. Aquinas 13
      3. Hegel 14
      4. Heidegger 15
      5. Bonaventure 16
    3. Point of Departure 18
    4. The Road to Be Travelled: Methodological Comments 24
  2. Exemplarity and Expression: Rejection of the Pure Difference Thesis 31
    1. What Is the Nature of the God-Creature Relation? 32
      1. The Analogy Thesis 33
      2. Sources 34
    2. Historical Form of the Rejection of the Pure Difference Thesis 36
      1. Establishing the Archetype 37
      2. The Analogical Approach: The First Cause from Below 37
        1. Created Realities and Causation 38
        2. Irenaeus and the Archetypal Relation between Creator and Creature 40
        3. Augustine and the Unity between Creator-as-Archetype and Created Beings 42
      3. The Katalogical Approach: The First Cause from Above 46
        1. Bonaventure and the Synthesis of Exemplar and Exemplarity 48
    3. Ideal Form of the Rejection of the Pure Difference Thesis 54
      1. The Necessity of Imago 55
      2. Pure Difference and Christology 58
      3. Ambigua concerning the Pure Difference Thesis 61
        1. Objection 1: Negative Theology 62
        2. Objection 2: God and the Subject-Object Scheme 63
        3. Objection 3: Revisiting the Wholly Other 64
  3. The Positivity of the Other: Rejection of the Identity Thesis 75
    1. Historical Form of the Rejection of the Identity Thesis 76
      1. Plotinus 76
      2. Fichte 79
    2. Ideal Form of the Rejection of the Identity Thesis 80
      1. The Positivity of the World 81
      2. The Presupposition of Unity 85
  4. Analogy: A Theological and Philosophical via Media 91
    1. Historical Form of the Analogy Thesis 91
      1. The Ontology of Participation 91
      2. Bonaventure—Exemplarity and Mediation 95
    2. Ideal Form of the Analogy Thesis 97
      1. Analogy under the Sign of Likeness 97
      2. Analogy under the Sign of Greater Unlikeness 102
  5. Personhood and von Balthasar’s Two Metaphysics 107
    1. The Importance of the Unique 107
    2. The Two Metaphysics of Hans Urs von Balthasar: Ideal and Historical 111
      1. The Ideal Metaphysic 112
      2. The Historical Metaphysic 114
    3. The Relation between the Ideal and Historical Metaphysics 122

Excursus: Von Balthasar and Supralapsarianism 128

  1. Analogy of Being in Trinitarian and Christological Keys 139
    1. From the One to the Many: Multiplication in the Ideal Metaphysic 140
      1. Trinitarian Dimensions of the Analogy of Being 141
        1. Grounding the Positivity of Difference in God 142
        2. Greater Unlikeness 146
      2. Christological Dimensions of the Analogy of Being 149
    2. Proportionalitas: Multiplication in the Historical Metaphysic 151
  2. Participation, Love, and Kenosis 171
    1. The Concept of Kenosis 172
    2. The Last Kenosis—Incarnation 176
    3. Second Kenosis—Creation 182
    4. First Kenosis–Trinitarian Processions 184
  3. Epilogue 197