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BOOK REVIEWS 247

comments leaves one wishing he would write a more direct and lengthy examination
of theology and religion. Eagletons theological sympathies have proven that he is
a friend to religion and theology in a time when such friendship is greatly needed since
religion, like Marxism, has been largely battered in the last half-century. The post-
modern age has been, arguably, more congenial towards religion and theology than
modernity, but only slightly; there are still many at the gates who denounce religion,
theology and any kind of theism as unfortunate, if not dangerous. Yet Eagleton is a
resource for theologians not only because of his collegiality towards theology, but also
in his methods of cultural critique and amiable relationship with the larger reading
publicwhich are tactics that theologians could borrow from.
Smith deftly weaves the historical background, academic arguments and literary
schools of thought together in tracing Eagletons lengthy and diverse publications,
while keeping his admiration for Eagleton carefully muted through a critical
sensitivity. His writing is a pleasure to read: crisp, clear and with a sense of
momentum. This is a most welcome, most enjoyable and most important book, and
the paperback edition is nicely affordable. It has a place for theologians interested
in literary studies, Marxism, cultural and literary theory, or in the ongoing work
of Terry Eagleton.

doi:10.1093/litthe/frp010 T. KEVIN TAYLOR


Advance Access publication 15 April 2009 University of Cambridge

Karl Barth and Hans Urs Von Balthasar: A Critical Engagement. By Stephen D.
Wigley. London: T&T Clark, 2007. xiv 178 pp. 60/$95.12 (hbk).

ONE OF the ways of understanding Balthasar and the peculiar fascination he exercises
over some Protestant theologians is by way of Karl Barth. The inuence of Barth
upon Balthasar is clear, shaping the Catholic and aesthetical theologian with some
appreciatively Protestant sensibilities. There are great similarities between these two
theologians in their Christology and its centrality in their respective theologies (Christ
is the concrete universal for both), the primacy of Scripture and revelation,
eschatology, Gods sovereignty and freedom, humanitys creaturely freedom and
the falsity of a neo-Thomistic, pure nature analogy of being. They were exposed
to one anothers work through their overlapping time in Basel in the 1940s, and
Balthasars important work, The Theology of Karl Barth, remains a vitally important
study of and response to Barth. Barth gures prominently in Volume 1 of Balthasars
The Glory of the Lord, which Balthasar himself described as Barthian. On these aspects
of the BarthBalthasar relationship, there is some sort of scholarly consensus.
Stephen Wigleys book seeks to push the connection further, however, by arguing
that there was a direct Barthian inuence on all of Balthasars theological trilogy
(The Glory of the Lord, the Theo-Drama and Theo-Logic). Balthasar is explicitly
countering [Barths] misconstrual of Catholic teaching on natural theology and the
role of creation (xi, emphasis added), that the nature of the debate between them
shapes the structure of his own trilogy (p. 84). Wigley argues that Balthasar was
more shaped by Barth than has been realised, and that the major ideas and moves
248 BOOK REVIEWS
in his theological trilogy are done largely out of the response to Barth that Balthasar
formed in his The Theology of Karl Barth.
Wigleys argument contains a very helpful summary of Barth and Balthasar, noting
their differences, similarities and the ongoing theological relationship. He works
mostly with the primary sources of Barth and Balthasar, while responding to Bruce
McCormacks seminal critique of The Theology of Karl Barth in Karl Barths Critically
Realistic Dialectical Theology; Wigley also incorporates recent works by Roland Chia
and Ben Quash. For Wigley, McCormack critiques Balthasars interpretation of
Barth inappropriately, as Balthasars The Theology of Karl Barth has different goals
and greater complexity than McCormack allows. Further, much of McCormacks
disagreement can be placed more at the feet of subsequent theologians than at
Balthasars. Wigley concludes that there is more in common between McCormack
and von Balthasar than McCormacks explicity revisionist thesis might suggest (p. 44).
Wigley is most helpful in his tracing of several important CatholicProtestant
debates regarding graces interaction with creation: is it disruptive, or participative?
Is revelation ontological and teleological, or is it eschatological and diremptive? Is the
analogy of being a necessary part of Christian theology, or the devils handiwork?
It also adds yet another Protestant appreciation (Wigley is British Methodist) of the
analogia entis, and Balthasars Christological representation of it (p. 48).
Troublesome for Wigley is the fact that Balthasar only really addresses Barth
directly in The Theology of Karl Barth and The Glory of the Lord. Balthasar makes
scant mention of Barth in the Theo-Drama or Theo-Logic, which is a problem that
Wigley works hard to surmount but remains something of an acclivity. Balthasar
may be offering an alternative model in which God takes our decisions
seriously . . . . . . as he noted in his study on Barth (p. 90), but is this historically
conclusive? Does Balthasars repetition of earlier ideas in The Theology of Karl Barth
clinch an argument of historical causality?
The assertion of Barths inuence on the whole of Balthasars trilogy, that Balthasar
wrote it in part as a corrective to Barth, is an interesting and winsome one, but
difcult to make historically. Wigley is making his case precisely on historical grounds
(p. 82), but the argument can never be conclusive, because we simply lack the hard
data one would want in building such a case. How do we know there are not
other reasons Balthasar focuses on these themes? Is it clear that Balthasars focus on
the analogia entis was due to his critique of Barth, or is it simply that Przywara
had embedded this theological concern deeply within Balthasar? Similarly, is it
decisive that Balthasar is broadening out the ecclesial implications . . . to strengthen
those aspects of Barths theology . . . in particular Barths understanding of Church
(p. 66), or is he simply a Jesuit priest with a high view of the Church? Does it follow
that it was Barths analogy of faith, without a wider concept of the analogy of being,
that lead to Balthasars conscious decision to shape his theological trilogy around the
transcendentals? Or, does Balthasars similarities to Barth in certain areas more reect
their common context and concernsthe particular nexus of the mid-twentieth
centuryrather than a lucid case of historical inuence as Wigley would have it?
Wigley argues, as others have, that Balthasar has made a greater space than Barth
did for human response, creativity, and dramatic action (there is more to theology
than revelation p. 84). A primary contention, however, is that it is particularly
through Balthasars use of the analogia entis that he corrects Barths actualism and
BOOK REVIEWS 249
christological constriction. It is the form of von Balthasars debate with Barth
(centring on a christological reinterpretation of the analogy of being) which provides
the key inuence which in turn goes on to govern the structure of von Balthasars
subsequent trilogy (p. 160). This is a bold claim. There are so many differences
between Balthasar and Barth, so many inuences on Balthasar (his Catholicism, Hegel,
the Church Fathers, tragic drama, the dramatic nature of being, mythology, and so
on), that an argument for the analogia entis as the key inuence for the trilogy is a
difcult one to sustain. Balthasars variety as a theologian is simply too wide-ranging to
argue for such a unique place for the analogia entis, and the danger is reductionism.
Certainly, the analogy of being is a key concept in Balthasar, but is it truly any greater
than his numerous other concerns? The assertions are not aided by the fact that the
text is dense, creaking with the feel of a dissertation with numerous quotes, condensed
summaries of long arguments and detailed disputations, along with an overly
systematised and methodical structure. It is difcult not to wince at a subsection
numbered 2.2.2.2 or the use of the royal we for the authorial voice.
At some point, the debate on Balthasar and Barth will have to be left off as
inconclusive. There was a clear theological inuence, but it distorts when zoomed in
too closely; best to leave it as an indirect inuence, as earlier essays by Quash and
John Webster have favoured. Much can and has been said, but at a certain point
the argument collapses with the weight of historical uncertainty.

doi:10.1093/litthe/frp011 T. KEVIN TAYLOR


Advance Access publication 15 April 2009 University of Cambridge

The Religion and Film Reader. Edited by Jolyon Mitchell and S. Brent Plate.
New York and London: Routledge, 2007. xxi 470 pp. 21.99 (pbk).
IN RECENT decades, readers have become a central feature of the increasingly crowded
academic publishing landscape. Some are designed to capture the undergraduate
market as key background reading for well-established subject areas, while others
draw together the disparate body of research that marks the necessarily fragmented and
at times contradictory emergence of new research constellations. In this latter
category, the reader thus has the potential to play a critical role in moulding the
wider perception of, as well as potentially even determining the future development
of, these emerging elds of research.
In their Religion and Film Reader, Jolyon Mitchell and S. Brent Plate show
themselves to be well aware of the potential pitfalls awaiting the editors of such
works, not least that of imposing a homogenising representativity on a disparate body
of work. They consistently stress the historical depth, the geographical spread and
the sheer critical complexity that marks reection on the relationship between religion
and lm. As they write in their introduction: Our goal here is to provide a volume
that charts the eld and its history, shows the diversity of ways the relation between
religion and lm can be understood, points to transactions in the past, and explores
some of the new interactions between the two arenas (p. 2). Although they underline
the wide-ranging and eclectic nature of the material chosen for the reader, the editors
identify four issues that are central to the volume as a whole: (i) the exploration of the