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Hans Urs von Balthasar's Theology of Representation

God, Drama, and Salvation

Jacob Lett

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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Religion/Theologie


This penetrating study makes a case for the centrality of the concept of representation (Stellvertretung) in Hans Urs von Balthasar’s theological project.

How is it possible for Christ to act in the place of humanity? In Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Theology of Representation, Jacob Lett broaches this perplexing soteriological question and offers the first book-length analysis of Balthasar’s theology of representation (Stellvertretung). Lett’s study shows how Balthasar rehabilitates the category of representation by developing it in relationship to the central mysteries of the Christian faith: concerned by the lack of metaphysical and theological foundations for understanding the question above, Balthasar ultimately grounds representation in the trinitarian life of God, making “action in the place of the other” central to divine and creaturely being. Lett not only articulates the centrality of representation to Balthasar’s theological project but also demonstrates that Balthasar’s theology of representation has the potential to reshape discussions in the fields of soteriology, Christology, trinitarian theology, anthropology, and ecclesiology.

This work covers a wide range of themes in Balthasar’s theology, including placial and spatial metaphors, a post-Chalcedonian Christology of Christ’s two wills, and theories of drama. This book is also a text of significant comparative range: Lett considers Balthasar’s key interlocutors (Gregory of Nyssa, Maximus, Aquinas, Przywara, Ulrich, Barth) and expands this base to include voices beyond those typically found in Balthasarian scholarship, including Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Dorothee Sölle. The overall result is a deeply probing presentation of one of Balthasar’s most significant contributions to contemporary theology.



metaphysics, German theology, Jesus Christ, Christianity, Stellvertretung, anthropology, systematic theology, representation, Christian theology, religion