Date of Award

Fall 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Wood, Susan K.

Second Advisor

Schultenover, David G.

Third Advisor

Long, Stephen


Henri de Lubac, S.J. (1896-1991) led one of the most important developments within twentieth-century Catholic theology, the movement known as thenouvelle théologie. De Lubac's signature move was to return to early church sources to renew contemporary theology. This dissertation explores de Lubac's recovery of patristic eschatology for the contemporary age. While certainly responding to secularization, de Lubac also sought to respond to the "messianic" and apocalyptic shape of modern religious experience and political ideology. He argued that the source of secular messianisms was a dictotomy within Christianity between mysticism and the apocalyptic. Thenouvelle théologiemovement of the 1940s--from the wartime underground journalCahiers du Témoignage chrétien(The Christian Witness Journals) to the post-war controversy over Christianity and communism--witnesses to the clash of differing eschatologies at the heart of twentieth-century Catholicism. De Lubac's response--his recovery of a patristic exegetical hermeneutics--must therefore be examined with an eschatological lens. De Lubac borrowed from Origen to recover an eschatology that synthesizes a transcendent-oriented mysticism with a future-oriented hope. De Lubac then showed how two historical developments--Pseudo-Dionysian spirituality and Joachimite history--diverged from the traditional patristic eschatology. Dionysian mysticism ejected the historical, while Joachimism's apocalyptic theology of history evacuated authentic transcendence. Both lost a dynamic tension inherent in patristic thought. De Lubac argued that the dichotomy between theinvisibilia Deiand thefuturalay at the origins of rationalistic and apocalyptic ideologies in the twentieth century. In the end, this study argues, de Lubac creatively appropriated patristic "anagogy" and made eschatology the fundamental structure for his sacramental thinking, his understanding of the church, his Christology, and his mysticism. The dissertation shows that de Lubac's "anagogical" imagination effected a rapprochement between eschatological impulses within the twentieth century and responded to the needs of a divided Catholicism.

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