Date of Award

Spring 2001

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Del Colle, Ralph G.

Second Advisor

Coffey, David

Third Advisor

Dabney, D. L.


Though dating back to the earliest Christian decades, the discussion surrounding the relationship between the Son and the Spirit is still very much a live topic. The recent encyclical Dominus Iesus, which addresses several of these issues, and Roger Haight's recent Jesus: The Symbol of God, a reformulation of his Spirit Christology, demonstrate how much is yet to be finalized theologically in terms of the Son and Spirit. At the same time, the theologian Hans Urs van Balthasar remains a figure receiving constant attention, both positive and negative. In a preliminary reading of parts of Theo-Drama, I was immediately attracted to Balthasar's theological method, something he called a "kneeling theology." Along with the attraction came a bit of frustration, as Balthasar's thought seemed difficult to comprehend or pin down on certain issues. For that reason, and others, Balthasar is often treated in isolation from the mainstream dialogue in theology. He has his supporters, and he has his critics, but the two sides often tend to their own camps without real engagement. This engagement between Balthasar and academic theology was my overarching goal in the dissertation. Since Balthasar treats the relationship between the Son and the Spirit throughout Theo-Drama (although this is not the focus of Theo-Drama), and since this issue represents one of the most active areas in speculative theology, the comparison between Balthasar and contemporary theology regarding the Son and Spirit seemed a fruitful undertaking. The first task in the formation of this work was a painstaking collection of data from Theo-Drama, which involved sorting through and categorizing the many hundreds of references to the Son and Spirit scattered throughout five volumes. I was looking both for the way Balthasar handled specific issues (such as the Filioque, or the Spirit in the life of Christ), and for broad themes or movements that could be discerned from Theo-Drama as a whole. With this data, I systematically articulate and evaluate Balthasar's thought in this broad subject. From early in my research, I realized that I had stumbled upon an excellent topic and one that could contribute both to the understanding of the Son / Spirit dynamic, as well as an understanding of the enigmatic Balthasar. My only hope is that I did the topic justice!



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