Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Aesthetic Revelation: Reading Ancient and Medieval Texts after Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Aesthetic Revelation: Reading Ancient and Medieval Texts after Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Article excerpt

Aesthetic Revelation: Reading Ancient and Medieval Texts After Hans Urs von Balthasar BY OLEG V. BYCHKOV CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, 349 PAGES, $79-95

The beautiful is difficult," writes Plato. Oleg Bychkov, professor of theology at St. Bonaventure University, has written a difficult and demanding book that spans the chasm separating the modern science of aesthetics from premodern philosophical and theological texts. The book addresses two interrelated concerns. First, what is the meaning of the modern concept of aesthetics or aesthetic experience? Does beauty have anything to do with metaphysics, ethics, or biblical revelation? Second, there is the question of interpretation: "Is it at all possible to retrieve the meaning of ancient and medieval texts? What sort of meaning can we hope to recover? And finally, how should one proceed to recover this meaning?"

An extended argument addressing both of these issues is advanced through a dialogue with the Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. Bychkov confirms the originality and legitimacy of von Balthasare "aesthetic hermeneutics" even as he seeks to supplement or correct aspects of the latter's interpretation of ancient and medieval texts. …

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