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7 Analogy in Karl Barth and Orthodox Theology Andrew Louth In the preface to the first volume of his CD, Karl Barth asserted that “I hold the analogia entis as the invention of Anti-Christ and think that, for this reason, one cannot become Catholic. Equally I allow myself to hold that all other reasons that one might have for not becoming Catholic are shortsighted and lacking in seriousness.”1 In Orthodox theology of the twentieth century (or any other century), the notion of analogia entis, analogy of being, scarcely occurs. An exception can be found with Fr. John Romanidis, who in his first book, Ancestral Sin, rejects categorically analogia entis, together with the notion that Barth came to accept as a substitute, analogia fidei, analogy of faith: 1. KD I/1, 7–9. 189 “The West has a presupposition in its theology of analogia entis and analogia fidei. Everything in the world exists simply as images in time of the eternal archetypes that exist in the being of the One.”2 It might, then, look as if there is a real convergence between Barth and Orthodox theology; the reality, however, is more complicated, not least because both these assertions—Barth’s and Romanidis’s—need to be contextualized in the history of twentieth-century Christian theology, and in that century the understanding of analogy underwent major and far-reaching changes. The Background of the Notion of Analogy Both Plato and Aristotle contributed to the notion of analogy. In the Republic, Plato introduces it when he has Socrates explain the nature of the Form of the Good by comparing it to the role the sun plays in the phenomenal world: “It was the Sun, then, that I meant when I spoke of that offspring which the Good has created in the visible world, to stand there in the same relation to [ἀναλόγον ἑαυτῷ] vision and visible things as that which the Good itself bears in the intelligible world to intelligence and to intelligible objects.”3 Socrates goes on to explain to Glaucon that You will agree that the Sun not only makes the things we see visible, but also brings them into existence and gives them growth and nourishment; yet he is not the same thing as existence. And so with the objects of knowledge: these derive from the Good not only their power of being known, but their very being and reality; and Goodness is not the same thing as being, but even beyond being, surpassing it in dignity and power [ἐπέκεινα τῆς οὐσίας πρεσβείᾳ καὶ δυμάμει ὑπερέχοντος] (Republic VI. 509B). There is an analogy between the role of the sun in the visible world 2. Ioannis S. Romanidis, To Propatorikon Amartima, 3rd ed. (Thessaloniki: Pournaras), 22–23. 3. Plato, Republic, trans. Francis M. Cornford (Oxford: Clarendon, 1941), VI.508BC. CORRELATING SOBORNOST 190 and the role of the Form of the Good in the intelligible world: from knowledge of the visible world one can infer knowledge of the intelligible world. Aristotle’s contribution is rather different. In many places Aristotle discusses the way in which we predicate qualities in different ways. There are cases where we predicate the same quality in the same way—the predication of colors, for example. There are other cases where we use the same word in quite unrelated ways; for example, the bull you might find in a field, and a papal “bull”—here we have chance homonymity. A more interesting category is where we ascribe the same quality in different but related ways. An example Aristotle often gives is health: a person can be healthy, a diet can be healthy, a seaside resort might be healthy, and a way of life might be healthy. What makes each of these healthy is different, but the word “healthy” is not being used in quite unrelated ways, for the prime meaning of the health refers to a human being; the other ways of using healthy refer to this prime use, either as promoting or preserving or encouraging health. It is important for Aristotle that fundamental notions, like goodness and being, have this character: there is a prime meaning, and other meanings that relate to this. Aristotle calls it πρὸς ἕν (referring “to one”) predication, for all examples refer to the prime example (see, e.g., Metaphysics Γ.2). It can also be called “analogy,” though in Aristotle analogia more commonly refers to the way in which predication of qualities is appropriate to the subjects of which they are predicated (see Nichomachean Ethics I.6.12:1096b28–9). These...


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