By Stephen Wigley
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Additional info for Balthasar's Trilogy (Readers Guide)
There has been much discussion as to the rationale behind von Balthasar’s selection, as he himself acknowledges, ‘This is naturally, not to deny that, between these twelve figures picked out as typical, there is not a host of others who could have clarified the intellectual and historical relations and transitions between them and would in themselves also have been worthy of presentation’ (GL2: 20). Many of the names, in the first volume especially, are either giants of the Western tradition, such as Irenaeus and Augustine, or else those whom he has referred to extensively in the opening volume, such as Denys the Pseudo-Areopagite.
We have already made reference to his friend Henri de Lubac’s assessment of his being ‘perhaps the most cultivated of our time’. This is quite evident to any reader in the way von Balthasar approaches the vast arena of his theological project. It means that in the course of engaging with any particular theme, it will not be unusual to discover him referring to a wide range of sources which may include Greek philosophy, the writings of the early Church Fathers (not just the principal figures such as Augustine but also lesser known ones such as Denys the Pseudo-Areopagite 23 BALTHASAR’S TRILOGY and Maximus the Confessor), Anselm and Aquinas, the medieval scholastics and later Reformers, right the way through to the German idealists and his own theological debating partners in the twentieth century.
Given the centrality of the Incarnation to his thought, perhaps it is not surprising that von Balthasar finds a key to illustrate what is happening in the Christmas Preface. ) This prayer emphasizes how it is by the perception of what we do see that we are drawn into the mystery of that which we cannot see. But it also shows how this is not initiated simply by the act of perception, but that it is the beauty of God’s revelation which so enraptures the beholder that we are drawn into the mystery of God’s presence.
Balthasar's Trilogy (Readers Guide) by Stephen Wigley