Sunday 19 August 2007

David Bentley Hart and the analogia entis

I mentioned in an earlier post that the analogia entis (formerly banished by Barth) has made a comeback in the brilliant work of David Bentley Hart.

And it looks as though the comeback is set to continue. A conference next April will explore this question: “The Analogy of Being: Invention of the Anti-Christ or the Wisdom of God?” The conference will coincide with the publication of an English edition of Erich Przywara’s famous book, Analogia Entis (translated by John Betz and David Bentley Hart, and published by Eerdmans). Speakers will include Hart himself, as well as Reinhard Hütter, Bruce McCormack, Bruce Marshall, John Webster, and several others. It looks like it will be an exciting event – and it’s good to see Hart’s own work receiving the attention it deserves.

In bleaker moments, I sometimes wonder whether theology is even possible anymore (if you’ve never had that feeling, you probably haven’t read enough contemporary theology) – but Hart’s work encourages me to believe that theology still exists, and is perhaps still possible.

Speaking of which, the latest issue of New Blackfriars 88:1017 (September 2007) features a symposium of articles on Hart’s The Beauty of the Infinite. There are articles by David S. Cunningham, James K. A. Smith, Lois Malcolm and Gerard Loughlin, together with a response by Hart.


Anonymous said...

Dear Ben,

First, let me thank you for your blog.

Second, may I ask a beginner's question? How would you respond to this passage from David Hart (responding to his critic Gerard Loughlin in the issue of New Blackfriars that you mention)? I especially have the last sentence in mind:

"... I believe both my summary of [Nicholas] Lash's argument and my rejection of it are correct. Lash most definitely does collapse the resurrection into the crucifixion. At least, he wonders whether it might not be enough to say that 'in death, in dying, Jesus discovers that his whole history, and every moment in that history, far from slipping away, ephemeral, into non-existence, stands, eternally - and stands by the transfigured reality and significance which belongs to it from the standpoint of God's eternal light;' and he means this (quite explicitly) to be understood as a possible description of what Easter really was. It is not a difficult essay; Lash merely wishes to advance the hypothesis that it might be proper to say that Easter is not, in relation to Jesus' death, another historical event, or the realization of a life beyond - or, rather, after - this life. And, as a consequence, perhaps we should be content to say that, in finding in Christ that our own lives stand in God's eternal light, we can surrender ourselves in faith into the arms of the Father who never abandons us. It is a perfectly conventional argument, hardly without precendent in the work of other modern systematic or dogmatic theologians. I would even grant that Lash is in this matter, as Loughlin says, not very different from Barth (though many Barthians might disagree)."



Ben Myers said...

Hi Neil -- yes, it's a very interesting point. I can't comment specifically on the interpretation of Nicholas Lash (since I haven't read the essay in question). But I assume you're wondering whether it's correct to bring this view of resurrection into Barth's orbit -- in my view, this is incorrect. Barth definitely would have agreed with Hart "that Easter must be understood as another historical event, literally occurring after the crucifixion" -- he didn't think that the resurrection was merely a divine interpretation of Jesus' death, etc. (Barth's greatest pupil, Eberhard Jüngel, adopted the latter view -- but this was primarily under Bultmann's influence.)

On the other hand, Loughlin is right in one respect: Barth regards the "eternal life" of the eschaton not as something that follows after our normal historical time, but rather as the redemption and glorification of this time, this history.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ben,

Thanks. I should clarify one point: the quoted words above are from Hart's response to Loughlin, not Loughlin's original critique.


Anonymous said...

Ben, why do you wonder whether theology is possible anymore?

Anonymous said...

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