Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Scattering the Seed: A Guide through Balthasar's Early Writings on Philosophy and the Arts

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Scattering the Seed: A Guide through Balthasar's Early Writings on Philosophy and the Arts

Article excerpt

Scattering the Seed: A Guide through Balthasar's Early Writings on Philosophy and the Arts. By Aidan Nichols, O.P. London: T & T Clark, Ltd., 2006. viii + 266 pp. $120.00 (cloth), $29.95 (paper).

Aidan Nichols's previous three introductory books on Hans Urs von Balthasars aesthetics, dramatics, and logic have secured his position as an authority on Balthasar's work. In this, the most recent book in his planned five-book series, Nichols explores some of Balthasar's earlier and lesser-known works, especially the three-volume interdisciplinary study, Apokalypse der deutschen Seele (1937, 1939) which has not been translated into English. Balthasar's Apokalypse brings together his exegeses of mostly German philosophers (Lessing, Fichte, Nietzsche, Bergson, Heidegger), theologians (Barth), and literary figures (Jean Paul, Goethe, Dostoevsky, Rilke). He starts with key figures in the early-modern period and ends with his own late-modern contemporaries. The texts Balthasar chooses "are re-constellated in new configurations which, to Balthasars mind, give access to the-otherwise unobvious-overall orientation of this or that individual's thought" (p. 44).

Balthasar turns to these thinkers in search of the philosophical-theological insights they might "throw on ideas of ultimate reality or final destiny," or on what he loosely calls eschatology (p. 35). Why? Balthasar perceives that orthodox eschatology has been marginalized along with its "supernatural endpoint." As a result, fundamental questions about "'personal identity and destiny" mid about "the goal of the world process" no longer have any "generally persuasive answers" (p. 43). In search of such an answer. Balthasar looks to the works of his favored thinkers, intent on identifying both "snares and tripwires" to avoid, and nuggets of wisdom-concepts, images, and myths-from which to develop a new, existential eschatology (p. vii).

Nichols's book will be of interest to scholars who wish to understand the origins and foundations of Balthasars mature work. …

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