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Title: Towards an analogy of beauty in the theology of Karl Barth
Author: Dunstan, Andrew
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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Hans Urs von Balthasar's interpretation of Karl Barth's theology of beauty remains the dominant one in theological aesthetics. It claims that Barth recovers theological beauty (i.e. divine beauty) but does not acknowledge any genuine relationship, or in other words analogy, between this and worldly beauty (i.e. natural and artistic beauty and human understandings of beauty). He supports this by a suspicion that Barth's concept of analogy itself may be incoherent: a form of 'theopanism' in which the relation between God and world simply alternates between metaphysical dialectic and identity. This thesis establishes an alternative reading of the matter. It argues that Barth does not merely recover theological beauty but also develops an analogia pulchritudinis: throughout his career he intentionally develops an analogy between theological and ecclesial beauty and he also consistently affirms that the world's beauty may bear witness to God. It substantiates this claim by means of a more comprehensive analysis than Balthasar attempts. Whereas Balthasar's interpretation is based simply on an analysis of Barth's most extensive account of beauty, Church Dogmatics §31.3, this thesis considers this passage in its proper context: both its historical context of Barth's reflections on beauty throughout his career and its immediate literary context of his concept of God's glory in Church Dogmatics §31.3. The argument proceeds in three stages. The first section allays Balthasar's fear that Barth's concept of analogy is incoherent. The second argues that Barth develops an analogy of theological, ecclesial and worldly beauty throughout his work. The final section then illustrates its significance especially for contemporary theological aesthetics.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available