Reading Ancient and Medieval Texts after Hans Urs von Balthasar
Imprint: Catholic University of America Press
Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988), long considered one of the most important Catholic theologians of the twentieth century, is a central figure in the field of theological aesthetics. His "poetic" reading of ancient and medieval texts was intended to retrieve the role of the aesthetic in discerning the Divine in a modern, technological world. Aesthetic Revelation reexamines von Balthasar's study of ancient and medieval theological aesthetics in his Glory of the Lord and confirms and critiques certain aspects of his analysis of traditional texts.
Oleg Bychkov begins with a methodological introduction on the hermeneutics of traditional texts and addresses the question of whether it is feasible to examine ancient and medieval texts in contemporary terms. He then presents a critical outline of the history of the discipline of aesthetics, von Balthasar's idea of theological aesthetics, and a unique analysis of von Balthasar's hermeneutics of ancient and medieval texts. The second part of the book offers a groundbreaking study of several ancient and medieval authors and the traditions they inspired—Platonic, Stoic, Augustinian, and late medieval—with a view to confirming von Balthasar's insights in aesthetics and correcting his approaches to textual criticism.
Besides contributing to a wide range of disciplines and areas, the book clarifies certain methodological issues concerning the hermeneutics of ancient and medieval texts—a theoretical area often neglected by classicists and medievalists. Oleg Bychkov's masterly exposition also shows how the texts analyzed have significantly influenced the development of Western theological thought.
"Oleg Bychkov's creative, meticulously researched and lucidly written monograph makes a decisive contribution to a number of scholarly fields and will appeal to a wide array of readers, whether they are concerned primarily with the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar, antique or medieval aesthetic theory, contemporary aesthetics, hermeneutics, theological method, or opening up heretofore uncharted byways for thinking the beautiful."~Christianity and Literature
"Bychkov offers an original and important study of Hans Urs von Balthasar...Highly recommended."~Choice
"A demanding book but one that richly repays close study...demonstrates impressively that Plato, Augustine and others are part of a unified, continuous tradition in aesthetics stretching from antiquity to the Late Medieval period."~Heythrop Journal
"A remarkably well-researched work, impressively carried out, which makes a significant contribution to the interpretation of numerous ancient texts, ideas, and authors relevant to the study of aesthetics. Bychkov's work should become an invaluable resource for the ever-growing number of students of Hans Urs von Balthasar."~Frank Burch Brown, Frederick Doyle Kershner Professor of Religion and the Arts, Christian Theological Seminary, and Professor of Religion and the Arts, University of Chicago
"An excellent, insightful, and thought-provoking study. Its historical portion alone makes a valuable contribution to the history of ancient and medieval thought. The value and appeal of the book are heightened by the chapters on the notion of aesthetics and Balthasar's theology."~Richard Viladesau, Professor of Theology, Fordham University
"This is an original and important study of Hans Urs von Balthasar, whose many theological writings elucidate the role of transcendent beauty in biblical texts as a response to the challenge of modernism in the Church. Bychkov ably presents von Balthasar's aesthetic views, which were drawn from a variety of ancient and medieval sources, and, using hermeneutics as a guide, assesses the Swiss thinker's contribution to theology and the uses to which he puts inspired poetic language, both of which are greatly admired by Pope Benedict XVI."~Brian Stock, Honorary Fellow, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto