In this original study, Joshua Brown seeks to demonstrate the fruitfulness of Chinese philosophy for Christian theology by using Confucianism to reread, reassess, and ultimately expand the Christology of the twentieth-century Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. Taking up the critically important Confucian idea of xiao (filial piety), Brown argues that this concept can be used to engage anew Balthasar’s treatment of the doctrine of Christ’s filial obedience, thus leading us to new Christological insights. To this end, Brown first offers in-depth studies of the early Confucian idea of xiao and of Balthasar’s Christology on their own terms and in their own contexts. He then proposes that Confucianism affirms certain aspects of Balthasar’s insights into Christ’s filial obedience. Brown also shows how the Confucian understanding of xiao provides reasons to criticize some of Balthasar’s controversial claims, such as his account of intra-Trinitarian obedience. Ultimately, by rereading Balthasar’s Christology through the lens of xiao, Balthasar in Light of Early Confucianism employs Confucian and Balthasarian resources to push the Christological conversation forward. Students and scholars of systematic theology, theologically educated readers interested in the encounter between Christianity and Chinese culture, and comparative theologians will all want to read this exceptional book.
“Balthasar in Light of Early Confucianism is unique in its comparison between Western Catholic Christology’s concept of Jesus’s Sonship, especially as developed by Balthasar, and the Confucian ideal of sonship. Academic theologians, specifically comparative or constructive theologians, and religious scholars will benefit from this project.” —Sunggu Yang, author of King’s Speech and Evangelical Pilgrims from the East
“In this highly original book, Joshua Brown approaches the dialogue between traditional Chinese culture and Christianity in a fresh way, showing how the ancient Confucian institution of filial piety can cast a surprisingly helpful light on Hans Urs von Balthasar’s central notion of the Son’s obedience to the Father. Balthasar in Light of Early Confucianism not only deepens our understanding of Confucius and Balthasar, but gives us a whole new way to think about what the ‘inculturation of faith’ could mean.” —D.C. Schindler, author of Freedom from Reality
"The book began as a doctoral dissertation but has become much more than that: a full-fledged, original treatise on intercultural and comparative theology. The main thesis is that the early Confucian concept of xiao or 'filial piety' has a unique potential to shed new light on the nature of Jesus Christ's obedience to God as Father." —Religious Studies Review
"Recent years have seen a fortunate surge in contributions to Confucian-Christian comparison. Joshua Brown’s Balthasar in Light of Early Confucianism stands tall among them. Brown matches rigorous methodology with original insights. ...as accessible as it is scholarly." —Reading Religion