The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics. Vol. V: The Realm of Metaphysics in the Modern Age by Hans Urs Von Balthasar (review)
- The Thomist: A Speculative Quarterly Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 57, Number 2, April 1993
- pp. 308-316
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308 BOOK REVIEWS lronioally, the retrieval of patristic theology together with the ecumenical emphasis has blunted some of the more "traditional" (i.e., Tridentine) Catholic accents within what used to be the most distinctively Catholic of the systematic treatises-church and sacraments. For example, while Power asserts the Eucharist as a real presence and propitiatory sacrifice (Tridentine themes), he does not stress them, in order to make room for an understanding of the Eucharist as active celebration and sacramental memorial (Catholic themes older than Trent which are ecumenical at the same time) ; he also does not underscore the Tridentine teaching about the sacramental character of Orders and thus does not accentuate the difference between clergy and laity. Again, instead of offering a Tridentine critique of Luther's singular understanding of the fides sacramenti, especially as it applies to the sacra· ment of penance (according to the early Luther's erstwhile debate partner, Cardinal Cajetan, Luther's view of the fides sacramenti was the only thesis of his which could not be reconciled with the Catholic faith and in effect amounted to the founding of a new church), Duffy attempts to integrate its positive aspects within a Roman Catholic sacramentology. Systematic Theology is a work permeated by Catholic themes, even if some of them would have been handled differently by other Catholic authors and though some of them are also shared by Protestant authors . The two volumes are a worthwhile and solid introduction to and summary of the present state of Catholic theology in North America, at least from the centrist-liberal perspective, and will serve their intended audience very well. Domimican House of Studies Oakland, California GREGORY RoccA, O.P. The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics. Vol. V: The Realm of Metaphysics in the Modern Age. By HANS URS VoN BALTHASAR. Translated by Oliver Davies, Andrew Louth, Brian McNeil C.R.V., John Saward and Rowan Williams. Edited by Brian McNeil C.R.V. and John Riches. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991. Pp. 666. This volume of the English translation of Hans Urs von Balthasar's masterpiece comprises the latter half of Herrlichkeit, Band III/I, Im Raum der Metaphysik, the first half having been published as The Glory of the Lord, Volume IV: The Realm of Metaphysics in Antiquity. The BOOK REVIEWS 309 reader must remember that von Balthasar intends to denote by " metaphysics " the entire cultural complexus of myth, philosophy and religion , whose theological interest for von Balthasar is that it is seen to be the humanist anticipation of Glory, a grace-driven quest for God. This usage is of course unfamiliar to most students of the subject, and is one which moreover carries with it the anti-systematic presuppositions already noted in reviews of earlier volumes of The Glory of the Lord:* Von Balthasar looks upon " the realm of metaphysics " as that historical space in which the quest for human transcendence discovers that its goal is actual only in the Form of Christ, the Glory of God. The quest that is metaphysics is of itself a merely human project, and as such, is an illustration of human indigence. It is worth observing that von Balthasar's discussion of metaphysics, running to a thousand dense pages in the first (1965) edition of Band III/I: Im Raum der Metaphysik, has been considered dispensable to the unity of the Herrlichkeit by the editors of the French and Italian translations, both of which editions omit Band IH/L The English translation of its second part, here under review, makes that omission understandable, for in the first place its contribution to the whole is largely ancillary, a matter of illustration, and in the second, it is a work extraordinarily demanding of the reader-and if one may judge from the profusion of floating prepositions and consequent ambiguities in the English text, all too demanding of the translators as well. The sheer time required adequately to appreciate the prodigious learning of this massive study, and the patience required to keep its line of argument clear, are such as to defeat its purpose for most prospective readers. It is a work which, even more than the other volumes of The Glory...