Friday, June 18, 2010

Balthasar & Edwards?

In Seeing the Form: Vol 1 of the first part of Balthasar's Theological Aesthetics trilogy, Balthasar delineates his approach:
"The overall scope of the present work naturally remains all too Mediterranean. The inclusion of other cultures, especially that of Asia, would have been important and fruitfull. But the author's education has not allowed for such an expansion, and a superficial presentation of such material would have been dilettantism. May those qualified come to complete the present fragment" (11).
Thinking about the omission of Edwards, I glanced at the table of contents for Giussani's Teologia Protestante Americana,  and saw the following names and movements:
  • Jonathan Edwards
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Theodore Parker
  • Horace Bushnell
  • Social Gospel
  • Walter Rauschenbusch
  • Washington Gladden
  • Fundamentalism
  • Douglas Clyde Macintosh
  • Henry Nelson Wieman
  • Edgar Sheffield Brightman
  • Reinhold Niebuhr
  • Paul Tillich
  • Harvey Cox
Of these, Google Book Search shows that Balthasar has references to the last three: Niebuhr, Tillich, and Cox. I haven't seen anything that Balthasar was aware of Edwards, and if he was aware I think it unlikely that he would have been aware of Edwards's attention to beauty. I would suggest that Balthasar's emphasis on beauty is one factor in the renewed interest in Jonathan Edwards, and ironically this renewal has come only after Balthasar's death on 26 June 1988. Balthasar knew his work would ultimately be fragmentary, and that it would depend on others for completion. While I would have loved to have seen Balthasar's take on Edwards, I look forward to seeing how others work out the interplay between the two authors.
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