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Sunday, 13 April 2008

Balthasar on writing

In her notes on the analogia entis conference, MM has one of the most touching theological anecdotes I’ve ever heard: “Martin Bieler recalled that Balthasar once told him personally that he (Balthasar) had written everything for Barth: ‘I wrote it all for Barth’.”


Troy Polidori said...

Do we know the context of the comment? That's quite a statement.

kim fabricius said...

In a letter Barth wrote to his son Christoph (in May 1941), he observed that von Balthasar "dragged around [CD] II/1, especially, in his briefcase, like a cat carrying a kitten." And von Balthasar paid his mentor and friend the ultimate compliment when he said that he was "a theologian and not a reformer."

Jon said...

I'll bet God was loving that comment...


Freder1ck said...

I'm reminded of Walter Ong's insight that a writer's audience is always a fiction; his point was that scholars with specialized knowledge or other writers oft write especially for one or two people whom they can expect to receive what they are expressing.

One of Freedom said...

We did von B this year in my contemporary theologians course. Barth comes up a lot. I was tickled to hear that they used to play music together.

halden said...

"they used to play music together."

THIS I want to hear more of!

saint egregious said...

Barth said this about his and Balthasar's beloved Mozart: “But he never becomes truly tragic. He plays and never stops playing…but behind his play there is an iron zeal.”
I wonder if that fits Balthasar's theology as well as it does Mozart?

One of Freedom said...

I didn't take notes about that, but I remember from an ealy lecture in our class that Balthasar was enamoured with Barth's Christology. In fact Balthasar tried, unsuccessfully, to bring Barth to Roman Catholicism. I'll ask Achiel who played what, I think Balthasar played fiddle and Barth piano, but I'm not sure.

thomas price said...

Lovely, kind of as moving as Barth's 'Yes' back to Brunner upon his hearing of Brunner's impending passing.

Ben Myers said...

Regarding the context of Balthasar's comment, another person who attended the conference sent me this clarification: "Bieler said that Balthasar had told him 'I wrote it all for Barth'. And when pressed as to why, he responded: 'I was hoping to convert him'."

And as for Barth and Balthasar: Barth played violin, while Balthasar was quite an accomplished pianist (apparently he could play entire Mozart operas by heart!). Incidentally, I think I recall that one of Barth's earliest jobs as a young chap was giving violin lessons.

Thom said...

If memory serves, wasn't Balthasar something of a fervent RCC evangelist in his young religious life? He converted Adrienne von Speyr, after all. Only makes sense he would try and do the same where Karl Barth was concerned.

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