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.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

Theology’s Handmaid
What Is Metaphysics?
What Is Theology?
The Relation of Metaphysics and Theology
Sacred Metaphysics

Never-Ceasing Fountain: Von Balthasar’s Sources
lato and the Question of Platonism

Point of Departure

The Road to Be Traveled: Methodological Comments

Chapter 2: Exemplarity and Expression: The Rejection of the Pure Difference Thesis

What Is the Nature of the God-Creature Relation?
The Analogy Thesis

Historical Form of the Rejection of the Pure Difference Thesis
stablishing the Archetype
The Analogical Approach: The First Cause from Below
– Created Realities and Causation
– Irenaeus and the Archetypal Relation between Creator and Creature
– Augustine and the Unity between Creator-as-Archetype and Created Beings
The Katalogical Approach: The First Cause from Above
– Bonaventure and the Synthesis of Exemplar and Exemplarity

Ideal Form of the Rejection of the Pure Difference Thesis
The Necessity of Imago
Pure Difference and Christology
concerning the Pure Difference Thesis
– Objection 1: Negative Theology
– Objection 2: God and the Subject-Object Scheme
– Objection 3: Revisiting the Wholly Other

Chapter 3: The Positivity of the Other: Rejection of the Identity Thesis

Historical Form of the Rejection of the Identity Thesis

Ideal Form of the Rejection of the Identity Thesis
The Positivity of the World
The Presupposition of Unity

Chapter 4: Analogy: A Theological and Philosophical via Media

Historical Form of the Analogy Thesis
The Ontology of Participation
Bonaventure—Exemplarity and Mediation

Ideal Form of the Analogy Thesis
Analogy under the Sign of Likeness
Analogy under the Sign of Greater Unlikeness

Chapter 5: Personhood and von Balthasar’s Two Metaphysics

The Importance of the Unique

The Two Metaphysics of Hans Urs von Balthasar: Ideal and Historical
The Ideal Metaphysic
The Historical Metaphysic

The Relation between the Ideal and Historical Metaphysics

Excursus: Von Balthasar and Supralapsarianism

Chapter 6: Analogy of Being in Trinitarian and Christological Keys

From the One to the Many: Multiplication in the Ideal Metaphysic
Trinitarian Dimensions of the Analogy of Being
– Grounding the Positivity of Difference in God
– Greater Unlikeness
Christological Dimensions of the Analogy of Being

Proportionalitas: Multiplication in the Historical Metaphysic

Chapter 7: Participation, Love, and Kenosis

The Concept of Kenosis

The Last Kenosis—Incarnation

Second Kenosis—Creation

First Kenosis–Trinitarian Processions