Hans Urs von Balthasar's Theology of Representation
God, Drama, and Salvation
278 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Hardcover | 9780268205027 | April 2023
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268205041 | April 2023
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268205010 | April 2023
This penetrating study makes a case for the centrality of the concept of representation (Stellvertretung) in Hans Urs von Balthasar’s theological project.
How is it possible for Christ to act in the place of humanity? In Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Theology of Representation, Jacob Lett broaches this perplexing soteriological question and offers the first book-length analysis of Balthasar’s theology of representation (Stellvertretung). Lett’s study shows how Balthasar rehabilitates the category of representation by developing it in relationship to the central mysteries of the Christian faith: concerned by the lack of metaphysical and theological foundations for understanding the question above, Balthasar ultimately grounds representation in the trinitarian life of God, making “action in the place of the other” central to divine and creaturely being. Lett not only articulates the centrality of representation to Balthasar’s theological project but also demonstrates that Balthasar’s theology of representation has the potential to reshape discussions in the fields of soteriology, Christology, trinitarian theology, anthropology, and ecclesiology.
This work covers a wide range of themes in Balthasar’s theology, including placial and spatial metaphors, a post-Chalcedonian Christology of Christ’s two wills, and theories of drama. This book is also a text of significant comparative range: Lett considers Balthasar’s key interlocutors (Gregory of Nyssa, Maximus, Aquinas, Przywara, Ulrich, Barth) and expands this base to include voices beyond those typically found in Balthasarian scholarship, including Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Dorothee Sölle. The overall result is a deeply probing presentation of one of Balthasar’s most significant contributions to contemporary theology.
Jacob Lett is a lecturer in theology and associate dean at Nazarene Theological College.
“This book not only fills a significant gap in scholarship on Balthasar but also provides a nuanced and perhaps even provocative interpretation of Balthasar’s dramatic soteriology, challenging certain one-note readings that do not account for the broader context of Balthasar’s system.” —Jennifer Newsome Martin, author of Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Critical Appropriation of Russian Religious Thought
"Hans Urs von Balthasar's Theology of Representation is a book that is long overdue. In his deeply probing and enormously informed book, Lett suggests that representation is both a theological keynote and a theological lever in Balthasar’s theology, which, if not systematic in a modern sense, nonetheless is always faithful to the matrix of doctrines and the interconnection of the excessive reality they intend. It most certainly is the best and most focused study of Balthasar’s soteriology that has yet appeared . . . [and is] one of the best books on Balthasar’s Christology. Most importantly—and it bears emphasizing—it is a book of deep theological thinking." —Cyril O'Regan, from the foreword