Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Friday, June 8, 2012

God's Glory Appears: From First Triad to Trinity to the Moral Life

THE MOST FRUITFUL WAY to understand the Revelation of God to man in Von Balthasar's eyes is to understand it as a sort of dramatic event, a particular, one-of-a-kind dramatic event, a "theodrama." Understood through the lens of this "dramatic form" allows us to gain the full Trinitarian aspect of God's revelation in Christ.

Von Balthasar identifies two "triads" that are intrinsic to the dramatic form and so may be found to exist in the theodrama.  The first triad is author, director, and actor.  The second triad is presentation, horizon, and audience.

Just like plays have an author, a director, and actors, so does the theodrama have this triad.  For von Balthasar, this is a "perfect metaphor for the economic Trinity in the theodrama."  (Steck, 55, quoting TDI 3.352)  In other words, what we have here is a pattern or analogy for understanding the Triune God, not in His transcendency (ad intra), but in his expression to the created world (ad extra). 

God the Father is the "author who shapes the drama and makes sure than it has its intended effect on the audience."  Steck, 55.  While he does this, he also must rely upon and grants a certain freedom and spontaneity to the director and actors in performing the work.  While the actor in one perspective "stands above" the director and the actor, he also must "cherish their autonomy."  Steck, 55 (quoting TD 1.280)

The Son of God is "the actor who makes real the author's dramatic idea."  Steck, 55.  While he is bound in a manner to the author's script, he is also designedly free to apply it in a non-mechanistic or non-manneristic way, as the author, God the Father, has necessarily left room for freedom of expression within his work.

The Holy Spirit is for von Balthasar the director, who takes the author's text, interprets, and allows it to speak "in a living and spiritual manner," by "prompting, inspiring, and organizing the actors as they bring their talents and energies to their respective roles."  Steck, 55.

 Trinity by Lucas Cranach the Elder

So, to put it all together, "God the author brings the dram 'into being as a unity'; God the actor conceives and executes his role 'on the basis of a single, unified vision.'; and God the director comes up 'with a unified vision embracing both the drama (with the author's entire creative contribution) and the art of the actors (with their very different creative abilities).'"  Steck, 56 (quoting TD 1.268, 284, 298)

To view Jesus as the divine "actor" in this theodrama allows us to view him further as an actor in a form of tragedy.  He is, as it were, a personification of the Greek tragic figure "who now does what Greek tragedy could never do: tie the contingent to the absolute in a universal way that stamps every existent with its pattern."  Steck, 56.  Jesus overcomes the limitations of philosophy (its universal, non-concrete quality) and the limitations of Greek tragedy or myth (its contingency, its lack of basis in reality).  Jesus is the "concrete universal."  Steck, 56.  (Jesus as the "concrete universal" is another way of stating the historical, ontological, and religious "scandal of particularity" we find in Jesus.)

The reason Jesus is the "concrete universal" is that he "opens for the finite, historical creature a stage in which his finitude is granted eternal (absolute) meaning."  The infinite absolute and universal become man in a contingent, particular, concrete existence in the Incarnation.  This bound together into one divine person both the universal and concrete, both God and man, the Uncreated Absolute and the created particularity.  It thus allows man to overcome his contingent existence and through this "concrete universal" himself become part of the absolute.

As we stated in our last posting, von Balthasar's view of the Christ-event as a sort of theodrama, and this triadic division of the theodrama into author-actor-director is wed to his Christian ethics.  "Whatever form of divine command ethics appears in von Balthasar, it must be interpreted in light of a God who 'authors' our play and give us our (christological) roles but who also makes room for our contribution as we are prompted by the Spirit."  Steck, 56.  Succinctly, the moral life is participation in the theodrama.

No comments:

Post a Comment