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A Theology of CriticismBalthasar, Postmodernism, and the Catholic Imagination$
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Michael P. Murphy

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195333527

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195333527.001.0001

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 Hans Urs von Balthasar

 Hans Urs von Balthasar


(p.27) 2 Hans Urs von Balthasar
A Theology of Criticism

Michael Patrick Murphy

Oxford University Press

The chapter serves both as a brief biography of Balthasar and a protracted bibliography of his work. The consideration of Balthasar's monumental opus (The Glory of the Lord, Theo‐drama, and Theo‐logic) provides a critical “system” in which to read texts and begins to illustrate Balthasar's unique contribution to current discussions about the intersection between theology, history, philosophy, and narrative art. The chapter demonstrates that not only is Balthasar one of the most important Catholic theologians of the twentieth century, but also his work has practical contributions to make to discourses in critical theory. Like critical theory, Balthasar's work is theological, literary, anthropological, philosophical, psychological, political, and historical, which are critical theory's main components. In the spirit of the ressourcement theology that shaped him, Balthasar is primarily interested in renewing attention to older sources in order to critique the idealistic excesses of modernity. In this sense, Balthasar reveals a postmodern temperament: he too is concerned with issues of language and difference, with aporia, with plurality, with surplus, and with horizons of meaning, to name a few. The difference between Balthasar and the majority of critical theorists resides in ontological and theological orientation: it is therefore a difference of imagination and of grammar. The chapter elaborates on these and other dynamic relationships.

Keywords:   Hans Urs von Balthasar, Karl Rahner, Karl Barth, Erich Przywara, Werner Löser, Adrienne von Speyr, Flannery O'Connor, John Paul II, ressourcement, Jesuits, Catholic imagination, analogy of aeing, Trinity, expressio, complexio oppositorum, exitus et reditus, sacramental, theological aesthetics, postmodernism

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