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BOOK REVIEWS 325 the moral life is action. Virtues, intellectual or moral, are but means to these goals. Ralph Mcinerny deserves honor, if anyone does, says Alvin Plantinga. True. And someone does deserve honor. The action which is the conclusion of this practical syllogism is happily realized in this book. St. Francis Xavier University Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada STEVEN BALDNER Say It ls Pentecost: A Guide through Balthasar's Logic. By AIDAN NICHOLS, 0.P. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2001. Pp. 227. $43.95 (cloth), $23.95 (paper). ISBN 0-8132-1077-1 (cloth), 08132 -1078-X (paper). Preceded by The Word Has Been Abroad and No Bloodless Myth, this book completes Aidan Nichols's three-part commentary on Hans Urs von Balthasar's 15-volume trilogy (16 if one includes the brief concluding Epilog), which many rank among the most significant theological achievements ofthe Church's recent history. The significance of the trilogy-and, for some, its difficulty-stems in part from the novelty ofits approach to classical theological issues. According to Balthasar, theology has been immeasurably harmed by the tendency to isolate parts ofthe Catholic whole and treat them in false abstraction from their organic relation to the rest. Such an approach distorts the meaning of the part, fractures the whole, and thus weakens the Church's resources in facing her most pressing concerns. Seeking a more concrete and comprehensive starting point, Balthasar thus ordered his theology around the three (positive) transcendentals-beauty (the "forgotten transcendental"), goodness, and truth. These are, so to speak, as metaphysical as they are theological, and they therefore analogously disclose both the deepest meaning of God in his relation to the world and the deepest meaning of the world in its relation to God. To oversimplify: Balthasar's sevenvolume "aesthetics" elaborate the form (Gestalt) ofGod's appearing to the world through analogies to worldly forms; his five-volume "dramatics" (perhaps Balthasar's most innovative contribution) unfold the subsequent encounter between God and man, Jesus and the individual, through an analogywith theater and the notion of the "world stage"; finally, his three-volume "logic"-which is the object ofNichols's present commentary--contemplates the truth ofGod and the world as it comes to light in this encounter. Balthasar's approach is remarkably fruitful in its capacity to integrate various apparently competing traditional perspectives in theology, and also to open up new directions in philosophy and approaches to world literature. What makes 326 BOOK REVIEWS his work fruitful, however, also makes it challenging to read. Because Balthasar develops his thought primarily through in-depth engagements with other thinkers, both well-known and relatively obscure, in a discussion that spans the whole of European cultural history and moves freely among the disciplines of theology, philosophy, and literature, it is quite easy to get lost. It is to such readers, or would-be readers, of Balthasar that Nichols extends his hand. His primary intention in writing these commentaries was to provide dergy and laypeople with a sort of"haute-vulgarisation," which aims to "make the contours of the wood visible despite the profusion of trees" in the "great forest" of the trilogy (211-12). In a spirit of sympathy rather than controversy (which is not to say that Nichols does not on occasion offer a critical word), his guides offer a synthetic exposition and relatively brief and simple commentary on each of the major steps in the unfolding of the trilogy. This most recent guidebook is especially timely insofar as the first volume of the Theologic has only just appeared in English, while the second and third volumes, as well as the Epilog, are still in the process of being translated (volume 2 is in its last stages). Say It Is Pentecost thus represents for non-German readers not only an overview, but a preview, of the last part of the trilogy. According to Nichols, "The overall aim of Balthasar's theological logic" is to address "the question of what is meant by 'truth' in the context of the 'event' of God's revelation through the Incarnation ofthe Logos and the Outpouring ofthe Holy Spirit" (1-2) (the final view from the...


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