Introductions to Hans Urs von Balthasar

From Stephen Joel Garver: Additional Resources

Articles by Hans urs Von Balthasar

Published in Communio: International Catholic Review
  • "Conversion in the New Testament." 1, no. 1 (1974): 47-59.
  • "In Retrospect." 2, no. 3 (1975): 197-220.
  • "Select Bibliography of Hans Urs von Balthasar." 2, no. 3 (1975): 220-27.
  • "The Meaning of Celibacy." 3, no. 4 (1976): 318-29.
  • "On Unceasing Prayer." 4, no. 2 (1977): 99-113.
  • "Catholicism and the Religions." 5, no. 1 (1978): 6-14.
  • "Christian Prayer." 5, no. 1 (1978): 15-22.
  • "Response to my Critics." 5, no. 1 (1978): 69-76.
  • "Current Trends in Catholic Theology and the Responsibility of the Christian." 5, no. 1 (1978): 77-85.
  • "Pistis and Gnosis." 5, no. 1 (1978): 86-95.
  • "The Grandeur of the Liturgy." 5, no. 4 (1978): 344-51.
  • "On the Withdrawal of Hans Küng's Authorization to Teach." 7, no. 1 (1980): 90-93.
  • "Reflections on the Discernment of Spirits." 7, no. 3 (1980): 196-208.
  • "Theology and Aesthetic." 8, no. 1 (1981): 62-71.
  • "The Anti-Roman Attitude" 8, no. 4 (1981): 307-21.
  • "From the Theology of God to Theology in the Church." 9, no. 3 (1982): 195-223.
  • "Should Faith or Theology Be the Basis of Catechesis?" 10, no. 1 (1983): 10-16.
  • "Unity and Diversity in the New Testament Theology." 10, no. 2 (1983): 106-16.
  • "Earthly Beauty and Divine Glory." 10, no. 3 (1983): 202-6.
  • "Transcendentality and Gestalt." 11, no. 1 (1984): 4-12.
  • "Jesus and Forgiveness." 11, no. 4 (1984): 322-34.
  • "Life and Institution in the Church." 12, no. 1 (1985): 25-32.
  • "The Holy Church and the Eucharistic Sacrifice." 12, no. 2 (1985): 139-45.
  • "Toward a Theology of Christian Prayer." 12, no. 3 (1985): 245-57.
  • "Peace and Theology." 12, no. 4 (1985): 398-40.
  • "On the Concept of Person." 13, no. 1 (1986): 18-26.
  • "The Poverty of Christ." 13, no. 3 (1986): 196-98.
  • "God is His Own Exegete." 13, no. 4 (1986): 280-87.
  • "Death is Swallowed up by Life." 14, no. 1 (1987): 49-54.
  • "The Meaning of Christ's Saying: 'I Am the Truth.'" 14, no. 2 (1987): 158-160.
  • "Theology and Holiness." 14, no. 4 (1987): 341-50.
  • "The Marian Principle." 15, no. 1 (1988): 122-30 RT.
  • "Editorial: The Meaning of the Communion of Saints." 15, no. 2 (1988): 160-62.
  • "Catholicism and the Communion of Saints." 15, no. 2 (1988): 163-68.
  • "Creation and Trinity." 15, no. 3 (1988): 285-93.
  • "Editorial: Buddhism-An Approach to Dialogue." 15, no. 4 (1988): 403-10.
  • "A Résumé of My Thought." 15, no. 4 (1988): 468-73.
  • "Natural Law and Private Ownership." 17, no. 1 (1990): 105-19 RT.
  • "The Mission of Communio." 19, no. 3 (1992): 509 NC.
  • "The Council of the Holy Spirit." 17, no. 4 (1990): 595-611 RT.
  • "Eternal Life and the Human Condition." 18, no. 1 (1991): 4-23.
  • "Still the First Commandment." 19, no. 1 (1992): 179-82 RT.
  • "Communio: International Catholic Review." 19, no. 3 (1992): 507-8 NC.
  • "On the Task of Catholic Philosophy in Our Time." 20, no. 1 (1993): 147-87 RT.
  • "A Word on Humanae Vitae." 20, no. 2 (1993): 437-50 RT.
  • "Theo-Logic: On the Work as a Whole." 20, no. 4 (1993): 623-37.
  • "Women Priests? A Marian Church in a Fatherless and Motherless Culture." 22, no. 1 (1995): 164-70 RT.
  • "Jesus as Child and His Praise of the Child." 22, no. 4 (1995): 625-34.
  • "How Weighty is the Argument from 'Uninterrupted Tradition' to Justify the Male Priesthood?" 23, no. 1 (1996): 185-92 RT.
  • "Mary-Church-Office." 23, no. 1 (1996): 193-98 RT.
  • "Georges Bernanos on Reason: Prophetic, Free, and Catholic." 23, no. 2 (1996): 389-418 RT.
  • "Christ: Alpha and Omega." 23, no. 3 (1996): 465-71.
  • "Thoughts on the Priesthood of Women." 23, no. 4 (1996): 701-9.
  • "The Fathers, the Scholastics, and Ourselves." 24, no. 2 (1997): 347-96 RT.
  • "Afterword to The Satin Slipper." 26, no. 1 (1999): 186-211 RT.
  • "Faith and the Expectation of an Imminent End." 26, no. 4 (1999): 687.
  • "Asceticism." 27, no. 1 (2000): 14-26.
  • "Good and Evil: Epilogue to Nietzsche." 27, no. 3 (2000): 594-99 RT.
  • "Tribute to Mozart." 28, no. 2 (2001): 398-399.
  • "Why We Need Nicholas of Cusa." 28, no. 4 (2001): 854-859.
  • "Joy and the Cross." 31, no. 2 (2004): 332–44. 
  • and Michael Albus. "Spirit and Fire. An Interview With Hans Urs von Balthasar." 32, no. 3 (2005): 573–593. SH
  • Communio: A Program." 33, no. 1 (2006): 153-169.
  • Where Does Fidelity Dwell? 34, no. 4 (2007): 495-510.
  • "Vocation." 37, no. 1 (Spring 2010).

Excerpts from Works by Hans Urs von Balthasar

Made available by Ignatius Press' Ignatius Insight: Formerly available on Gerard Serafin's In Praise of Glory (recovered via Archive.org) Elsewhere on the Web:

Collected Articles on Hans Urs von Balthasar

Interviews Articles

Balthasar and Karl Rahner

Additional Articles

Doctrinal Studies

Hans Urs von Balthasar on Hope, Hell and Salvation

Nothing has earned Balthasar the description of "controversial" more than his theological speculations on hell and the possibility of "universal salvation." Following is a collection of articles from all sides critiquing Balthasar's thought.

Additional Hans Urs von Balthasar Websites

Studies of Hans Urs von Balthasar


Balthasar: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed), by Rodney Howsare.
T & T Clark International (August 2009)

This is a concise and helpful guide for students grappling with the main principles of Balthasar's thought. Balthasar's thought, if it is anything, is perplexing, and it is perplexing for a number of reasons. In this "Guide for the Perplexed", Rodney Howsare gives the reader a handle on these perplexing aspects of Balthasar's thought. In the first chapter he introduces the reader to the man and his unique method of doing theology. He then moves on to explaining the basic structure and nature of the triology: the aesthetics, dramatics and logic. He then deals with various theological topics: Jesus Christ, The Trinity, The Drama of Redemption, The Church and Mary, and The Last Things. A final chapter summarizes Balthasar's place in modern theology and suggests further readings for the interested reader. "Continuum's Guides for the Perplexed" are clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging - or indeed downright bewildering. Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject difficult to grasp, these books explain and explore key themes and ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of demanding material.

Excerpts

How Balthasar Changed My Mind: 15 Scholars Reflect on the Meaning of Balthasar for Their Own Work, by Rodney A. Howsare PhD (Editor), Larry S. Chapp PhD (Editor).
The Crossroad Publishing Company (November 1, 2008)

Addressing the widespread and growing interest in the thought of Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar—whose influence on Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI has been enormous—this collection, by a team of established theologians and intellectuals, reflects on Balthasar's impact. Not a collection of scholarly articles, these are essays on the way in which Balthasar's theology is being taken up into other theological and philosophical projects, as well as contemplations on how Balthasar has influenced the authors personally. Key themes include the importance of beauty, the dramatic nature of truth, the centrality of revelation, the uniqueness and universality of Christ, and the intrinsic relationship between theology and sanctity. This volume is both a first-rate introduction to Balthasar and a window into the way that great theologians understand the driving questions of their work. Contributors include Michael Hanby, Nick Healy, Francesca Murphy, Danielle Nussberger, Cyril O'Regan, Tracey Rowland, and David L. Schindler.
Love Alone Is Credible: Hans Urs Von Balthasar As Interpreter of the Catholic Tradition (Ressourcement: Retrieval and Renewal in Catholic Thought), edited by David L. Schindler.
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (July 2, 2008)

In Hans Urs von Balthasar’s masterwork, The Glory of the Lord, the great theologian used the term "theological aesthetic" to describe what he believed to the most accurate method of interpreting the concept of divine love, as opposed to approaches founded on historical or scientific grounds. In this newly translated book, von Balthasar delves deeper into this exploration of what love means, what makes the divine love of God, and how we must become lovers of God in the footsteps of saints like Francis de Sales, John of the Cross and Therese of Lisieux.

Based in the theological aesthetic form, Love Alone is Credible brings a fresh perspective on an oft-explored subject. A deeply insightful and profound theological meditation that serves to both deepen and inform the faith of the believer.

Karl Barth and Hans Urs Von Balthasar: A Critical Engagement, by Stephen Wigley.
T. & T. Clark Publishers (September 2007).
Light in Darkness: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Catholic Doctrine of Christ's Descent into Hell, by Alyssa Lyra Pitstick.
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (February 28, 2007)

He descended into hell. Hans Urs von Balthasar, one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth-century, placed this affirmation of the Nicene Creed at the heart of his reflection on the world-altering events of Holy Week, asserting that this identification of God with the human experience is at the "absolute center" of the Christian faith.

Alyssa Lyra Pitstick’s Light in Darkness — the first comprehensive treatment of Balthasar’s theology of Holy Saturday — draws on the multiple yet unified resources of authoritative Catholic thinking on Christ’s descent to challenge Balthasar’s influential conclusions. This carefully argued, contrarian work is sure to spur debate across the theological spectrum.

Reviews

Divine Fruitfulness: A Guide to Balthasar's Theology Beyond the Trilogy, by Aidan Nichols.
Catholic University of America Press (February 28, 2007)

This fifth and final book in Aidan Nichols's Introduction to Hans Urs von Balthasar series covers Balthasar's prodigious output from the 1940s to his death in 1988, leaving aside the great multi-volume trilogy. Nichols identifies Balthasar's most significant sources, including the Church Fathers (especially Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Maximus the Confessor, and Augustine), Henri de Lubac, Karl Barth, and Adrienne von Speyr. He then guides the reader through Balthasar's works thematically, covering fundamental theological themes (revelation and theology, divine providence, the paschal mystery), Mary and the church, the saints, prayer and mysticism, and Christian literature. Readers familiar with Balthasar's corpus will immediately recognize the major works on which Nichols draws. Throughout, Nichols calls attention to the way in which these writings fill out and complete the trilogy.
Scattering the Seed: A Guide Through Balthasar's Early Writings on Philosophy And the Arts, by Aidan Nichols.
T. & T. Clark Publishers, Ltd. (September 26, 2006)

Aidan Nichols's newest book in his ongoing Introduction to Hans Urs Von Balthasar series investigates Balthasar's early explorations of music and the other arts, before launching into a ramifying but controlled survey of his—often highly original—interpretations of major philosophers and literary figures in the European tradition from the early modern period until the 1930s.

Balthasar seeks to discover elements of truth, goodness, and beauty in a rich range of figures. He gives special attention to classical German philosophers (such as Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, and Nietzsche), as well as to dramatists and novelists (notably Goethe, Schiller, and Dostoevsky), and to intellectual giants of his own century (such as Bergson, Scheler, and Barth). He also intends to prove that writers who had lost a living contact with the biblical revelation carried by Christianity were incapable of reconstituting a synthesis of ideas about the goal of man and the universe, an accomplishment that could be taken for granted in the high medieval epoch. At the same time, the modern writers whom Balthasar investigates add, in his view, crucial enhancements of human understanding—particularly in relation to history and the human subject—which must be factored into any new overall vision of the future of the human soul and indeed the human species in its cosmic environment.

Hans Urs Von Balthasar And Protestantism: The Ecumenical Implications of His Theological Style , by Rodney Howsare.
T. & T. Clark Publishers (September 30, 2005).

Reviews

Glory, Grace, and Culture: The Work of Hans Urs Von Balthasar

This collection of nine essays examines and celebrates the life and thought of Hans Urs von Balthasar, one of the twentieth century's greatest Catholic theologians, an authority on the Church Fathers and author of the monumental, three-part, fifteen-volume The Glory of God, Theo-Drama, Theologic, as well as humanist, expert on culture, philosophy and literature, publisher and editor, and would-be cardinal. Appointed to become a cardinal by Pope John Paul II (he was regarded as the Pope's favorite theologian), Balthasar died several days before his elevation.

Author and scholar Ed Block, Jr., leads as editor and contributor, providing an introduction, as well as the essay Theo-Drama that relates Balthasar's characteristic theme of Kenosis with the dramatist, actor, and audience. Dr. Block brings together seven distinguished fellow scholars--David Schindler (on Balthasar's negation of Nietzsche); Peter Casarella (on the meaning and purpose of Balthasar's theological language); Christophe Potoworowski (how Balthasar relates scriptural interpretation and holiness); David Yeago (the relationship between nature and grace); Aidan Nichols (Balthasar's theological aesthetics); Virgil Nemoianu (who places Balthasar among the world's great humanists); and Edward Oakes, SJ, (who discusses Balthasar's favor of the hermeneutical method over the historico-critical).

Together these writings display the interdisciplinary facets of Balthasar's thought that synthesize into a concise, deeply-held Christian account of God and the world.

Intended as an advanced primer for undergraduate audiences, this one-volume text, with endnotes and bibliography, presents a comprehensive look at the remarkable man and his thought.

Reviews

The Eschatology of Hans Urs von Balthasar: Being As Communion (Oxford Theological Monographs), by Nicholas J. Healy.
Oxford University Press, USA (July 15, 2005)

The unifying centre of Nicholas J. Healy's book is an analysis, in dialogue with the metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas, of Balthasar's understanding of the analogy of being. This discussion of analogy is framed by an interpretation of Balthasar's trinitarian eschatology. Healy shows that the ultimate form of the end, and thus the measure of all that is meant by eschatology, is given in Christ's eucharistic and pneumatic gift of himself - a gift that simultaneously lays bare the mystery of God's trinitarian life and enables Christ to 'return' to the Father in communion with the whole of creation.
The Cambridge Companion to Hans Urs von Balthasar, edited by Edward T. Oakes, S. J., David Moss.
Cambridge University Press (September 13, 2004)

Reviews:

Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Dramatic Structure of Truth: A Philosophical Investigation, by David Schindler.
Fordham University Press (August 9, 2004)

Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905Ð1988) was one of the most prolific and influential theologians of the twentieth century. This book, the first English-language study of Balthasar, seeks to show the fruitfulness of his thought by drawing out its philosophical implications for the question of truth.D. C. Schindler argues that a "dramatic" approach, shaping both the form and content of philosophy, enables a new conception of being, of human consciousness, and of their coming together to satisfy both traditional concerns about unity and postmodern calls for difference-while avoiding the pitfalls of a one-sided emphasis on either.

Reviews

Hans Urs Von Balthasar's Theological Aesthetics and the Foundations of Faith (Studies in Philosophical Theology, 25), by Stephan Van Erp.
Peeters (April 2004)

The twentieth century Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988) wrote a seven volume masterpiece on theological aesthetics. He restructured theology around basic aesthetic concepts like form and beauty. The present study offers a critical analysis of Balthasar's work against the background of contemporary debates on theological foundations. The author approaches this task through a careful rereading of two of Balthasar's key sources: Nicholas of Cusa and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. In this way the author rediscovers hidden undercurrents in modernity from Renaissance aesthetics to German Idealism. The result is a theological aesthetics rooted in tradition and capable of understanding and communicating faith in the face of present day challenges.
Hans Urs Von Balthasar's Theological Aesthetics: A Model for Post-Critical Biblical Interpretation, by William T. Dickens.
University of Notre Dame Press (November 2003)
Systematic Thought of Von Balthasar: An Irenaean Retrieval, by Kevin Mongrain.
Herder & Herder (June 25, 2002).

Review


Towards a Theology of God the Father: Hans Urs von Balthasar's Theodramatic Approach, by Margaret M. Turek.
Peter Lang Publishing (July 2001)

Among Hans Urs von Balthasar's vast corpus of theological works not one is found devoted specifically to an elaboration of a doctrine of God the Father. This study gathers and interprets Balthasar's many scattered reflections on the mystery of the God of Jesus Christ - especially those concentrated in his Theological Dramatic Theory - on its way to constructing an approach towards a theology of God's Fatherhood. Several of the most significant current issues in theology are addressed in this study, such as a reinterpretation of divine omnipotence in terms of the Father's all-powerful powerlessness, the question of the possibility of coexistence between infinite freedom and finite freedom, an understanding of the immutability of God that allows for the Father's being affected in some way by finite freedom, and an account of the Father's generative act that sees as integral to it a properly paternal modality of receptivity.
No Bloodless Myth: A Guide through Balthasar's Dramatics, by Fr. Aidan Nichols.
Catholic University of America Press (March 2000)

Reviews

Review, by Edward T. Oakes. Times Literary Supplement. April 3, 2001. Review, by David Moss. New Blackfriars March 5, 2003.

Excerpts

Contents & Preface Chapter 1: "Transition from Aesthetics" Chapter 2: "Rationale for Aesthetics"
The Ethical Thought of Hans Urs von Balthasar, by Christopher W. Steck.
Herder & Herder (December 2001)

Say It Is Pentecost: A Guide through Balthasar's Logic, by Aidan Nichols.
Catholic University of America Press (March 2001)

This book offers a comprehensive summary and interpretation of Balthasar’s logic. Nichols also considers the way in which the early volume "The Truth of the World" points forward to the theological aesthetics and dramatics and also how "Theo-Logic’s" concluding volumes pick up the themes of "The Glory of the Lord" and "Theo-Drama." He looks particularly at how Balthasar relates revelation of divine beauty and divine goodness to the unfolding of divine truth. The book concludes with a retrospective review of the trilogy as a whole.

Excerpts

Contents and Preface Chapter 1: "Introducing Balthasar's Logic" Chapter 27: "Epilogue to the Trilogy"

Reviews:

The Logic of Revelation. Review by John-Peter Pham. Crisis October 2001.
Hans Urs von Balthasar: Outstanding Christian Thinkers, by John O'Donnell.
Continuum International Publishing Group; New Ed edition (October 2000)

Person to Person: Friendship and Love in the Life and Theology of Hans Urs Von Balthasar, by John S. Bonnici.
Alba House (July 1999).

The Word Has Been Abroad: A Guide Through Balthasar's Aesthetics, by Aidan Nichols.
Catholic University of America Press (June 1998)

Awarded the prestigious Paul VI Prize for theology and designated a Cardinal just before his death in 1988 by Pope John Paul II, Balthasar's writings have clearly helped to shape the theological style of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. His seven-volume series The Glory of the Lord provides a rich and complex theological aesthetics approaching God (unusually) through the transcendental attribute of Beauty (Glory) rather than directly through Truth or Goodness, and drawing not only upon theology but upon the entire breadth of the European literary and religious tradition-ancient, mediaeval, modern, and postmodern.

Understandably, The Glory of the Lord in its very extent and range is difficult to assimilate. In "The Word Has Been Abroad," Aidan Nichols, one of Britain's most accomplished and lucid theological writers, succeeds in summarizing the essential theological content of Balthasar's monumental work, against the background of the living Christian tradition to which it bears such impressive witness. In this way, Father Nichols has provided a much-needed key to understanding one of the most difficult but important writers of our time.

Excerpts

Contents, Preface & Introduction Chapter 1: "The Face of Beauty"

The Dramatic Encounter of Divine and Human Freedom in the Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar
Peter Lang Publishing (1st Edition, 1997)

Reviews

Pattern of Redemption: The Theology of Hans Urs Von Balthasar, by Edward T. Oakes.
Continuum International Publishing Group; New Ed edition (May 1997)

Reviews

Reviewed by John R. Sachs Theological Studies December 1995. The Century's Greatest Theologian. Review by Aidan Nichols. CRISIS Magazine, Sept. 1995. Reviewed by Robert P. Imbelli Commonweal April 7, 1995.

The God Who Speaks: Hans Urs Von Balthasar's Theology of Revelation (Distinguished Research) , by Larry S. Chapp.
Intl Scholars Pubns (January 1997)

This new study is a unique contribution to the understanding of Balthasar's theology. The central thesis of Chapp's text is that Balthasar's seemingly eclectic writings can be interpreted as a coherent theological whole centered around a single controlling idea: that the Christian God is a "God who speaks" and a "God who would be known". This study is unique for it recognizes the deeply held Christian conviction that the God of Jesus Christ is a God who speaks in an articulate, recognizable, and historically visible manner. It is Chapp's contention that Balthasar's entire theological opus can be interpreted as an elaborate theology of revelation that develops a "theology of the finite" (using aesthetic and dramatic analogical categories) that acts as the condition of possibility for God's historically visible self-disclosure.

Reviews


Marian Principle in the Church According to Hans Urs Von Balthasar
Peter Lang Pub Inc (December 1996)

Reviews

Christology from Within: Spirituality and the Incarnation in Hans Urs von Balthasar, by Mark A. McIntosh.
Univ of Notre Dame Pr (September 1996).

Reviews:

Word and Silence: Hans Urs Von Balthasar and the Spiritual Encounter Between East and West, by Raymond Gawronski.
Eerdmans Pub Co (October 1995).
Hans Urs Von Balthasar: A Theological Style , by Angelo Cardinal Scola.
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (September 1995)

Hans Urs Von Balthasar: His Life and Work, edited by David Schindler.
Ignatius Press (October 1991)

The Immutability of God in the Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasarby Gerard F. O'Hanlon.
Cambridge University Press (October 26, 1990)

This study shows how the trinitarian theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar opens up an aproach to the controverted question of God's immutability and impassibility which succeeds in respecting both the transcendence and the immanence of God. Contrary to both Process thought and the classical Thomist position, von Balthasar's scattered treatment is here presented thematically, in a way which makes it clear that his idea of an analogous event in the trinitarian God (in which we participate) is a radical re-interpretation of the traditional Christian axiom of divine immutability.