Mysticism in Thomas Aquinas and Hans Urs von Balthasar

A Preliminary Comparison

  • Bernard McGinn Divinity School, The University of Chicago, IL, USA
Keywords: Mysticism, Thomas Aquinas, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Christian mysticism

Abstract

Even though the writings of Thomas Aquinas and Hans Urs von Balthasar do not directly deal with Mysticism, a careful examination will uncover many of their thoughts that today we would call mystical themes. Thomas considers key issues in the history of Christian mysticism under at least four headings treated in the Summa theologiae. Balthasar eschewed the category of “mysticism” as an organizational or integral theme for his systematics; but he could not avoid mystical themes in his writings. Those are flagrant in his perspective based on the fundamental theological categories of beauty, action, and truth. Thomas Aquinas’s theology of mysticism is centered on the role of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and the way in which the supreme gift of infused sapientia provides a connatural knowing and loving of God even in this life.

Author Biography

Bernard McGinn, Divinity School, The University of Chicago, IL, USA


Divinity School, The University of Chicago, IL, USA

References

Balthasar, Hans Urs von (1954) Thomas und die Charismatik. Kommentar zu Thomas von Aquin, Summa Theologica Quaestiones II II 171-182.

Besondere Gnadengaben und die Zwei Wege Menschlichen Lebens, Freiburg-im-Breisgau: Johannes Verlag, (2nd ed. 1996).

Balthasar, Hans Urs von (1969) Love Alone, New York: Herder and Herder.

Balthasar, Hans Urs von (1974) Grundfragen der Mystik, Einsiedeln: Johannes Verlag, 37-71.

Balthasar, Hans Urs von (1982) The Glory of the Lord. A Theological Aesthetics. Vol. I. Seeing the Form, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 219-425.

Balthasar, Hans Urs von (1989) Explorations in Theology. I: The Word Made Flesh, San Francisco: Ignatius, 227-40; 181-226.

Balthasar, Hans Urs von (1991) The Glory of the Lord. A Theological Aesthetics. Vol. V. The Realm of Metaphysics in the Modern World, San Francisco: Ignatius, 13.

Balthasar, Hans Urs von (1993) Explorations in Theology. Vol. III: Creator Spirit, San Francisco: Ignatius, 309-35.

Balthasar, Hans Urs von (1995) Explorations in Theology. Vol. 1V: Spirit and Institution, San Francisco: Ignatius, 299-307; 309-35.

Balthasar, Hans Urs von (1998) Theo-Drama. Theological Dramatic Form. V: The Last Act, San Francisco: Ignatius, 433-62.

Balthasar, Hans Urs von (2004) Theo-logic. II. Truth of God, San Francisco: Ignatius, 87-122.

Behn, Irene (1957) Spanische Mystik, Düsseldorf: Patmos, 8.

Biffi, Inos (1995) Teologia, Storia, e Contemplazione in Tommaso d’Aquino, Milan: Jaca Books.

Conley, Kieran (1963) A Theology of Wisdom. A Study in St. Thomas, Dubuque: The Priory Press.

Dictionnaire de spiritualité (1953) Paris: Beauchesne, Vol. 2:1644-2193. “Contemplation,” The article is divided into two large sections: “A. Une Enquète Historique” (1644-2057), divided into ten subsections; and “B. Enquète Doctrinal” with eight subsections (2057-2193). An outline of the historical section will give some idea of the richness of the whole. The subsections include: I. The Bible by Jules Lebreton (1645-1716); II. Philosophy of the Greco-Roman World by René Arnou (1716-62); III. The Greek Fathers and Eastern Christians by several authors (1766-1911); IV. Latin Christian Literature by Michel Olphe-Gallaird and Jean Leclercq (1911-1948); V. The Twelfth Century by Jean-Marie Déchanet (1948-1966); VI. The Thirteenth Century by Paul Philippe (1966-1988); VII. The Fourteenth Century by François Vandenbroucke (1988-2001); VIII. The Fifteenth Century also by Vandenbroucke (2001-2013); IX. The Sixteenth Century by Fidèle de Ros and Michel Olphe-Galliard (2013-2036); and X. The Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries by various authors (2036-2057).

Deutsche Thomas-Ausgabe, 36 vols. (Heidelberg: F. H. Kerle, 1951-61).

Gavrilyuk, Paul L. and Sarah Coakley, eds., (2012) The Spiritual Senses. Perceiving God in Western Christianity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 257-74.

Kevern, John R. (1997) The Role of Incomprehensibility in Von Balthasar’s “The Glory of the Lord” (PhD Dissertation) University of Chicago.

Marmion, Declan and Mary E. Hines, eds., (2005) The Cambridge Companion to Karl Rahner, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. The article in the Rahner companion is by Harvey D. Egan, “Theology and spirituality” 13-28.

McGinn, Bernard (2007) The Harvest of Mysticism in Medieval Germany, New York: Herder and Herder, 27-38.

McGinn, Bernard (2011) “Balaam IV. Christianity,” in H.-J. Klauck et al., eds., The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, Vol. 3: 365-68.

McGinn, Bernard (2014) Thomas Aquinas’s “Summa theologiae”: A Biography, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

O’Rourke, Fran (2005) Pseudo-Dionysius and the Metaphysics of Aquinas, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, 2nd ed.

Oakes, Edward T. SJ, and David Moss, eds., (2004) The Cambridge Companion to Hans Urs von Balthasar (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Roy, Lucien (1948) Lumière et Sagesse: La grace mystique dans la Théologie de saint Thomas d’Aquin, Montreal: Studia Collegii Maximi Immaculatae Conceptionis,

Royal, Robert (Trans) (2003) Saint Thomas Aquinas. Spiritual Master, Washington, DC: Catholic University Press.

Strolz, Walter ed., (1984) “Bibel und negative Theologie,” in Sein und Nichts in der abendländische Mystik, Freiburg-Breisgau: Herder, 13-31.

Torrell, Jean-Pierre (1996) Saint Thomas d’Aquin, Maître Spirituel, Fribourg-Paris: Editions Universitaires-Editions du Cerf.

Torrell, Jean-Pierre (2011) Christ and Spirituality in St. Thomas Aquinas, Washington, DC: Catholic University Press.

Published
2016-06-30