1 It is interesting to compare this passage with the exegesis of Ephesians 5, mentioned above. Balthasar notes that Paul begins (5.23-7) by "projecting his thought. . . from the creaturely, sexual sphere (which is the subject of his exhortation) to the soteriological sphere," and "goes on to look back from the latter order to the former" (Ephesians 5.28-31; Balthasar 1982-91: VII, 484). So Paul's nuptial analogy also faces two ways - but in Ephesians, as Balthasar makes clear, the priority of the soteriological sphere over the "creaturely, sexual" sphere, and the consequent rel-ativization of the latter, is made apparent. Even as the imagery of sexual difference is "projected" into the soteriological sphere, its inadequacy to that sphere is indicated.
2 There are several different "masculine" forms or principles within the church - their archetypes being the leading apostles - but "femininity" at the formal level remains essentially undifferenti-ated. There is only one "Marian principle," and the missions of the other women of the New Testament whom Balthasar mentions most often, Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene, are assimilated to it (Balthasar 1988-98: III, 279-82).
3 I am grateful to Alice Wood for discussions of this topic in connection with her BA dissertation "Creation and Redemption in the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception" (Cambridge Divinity Faculty, 2000).
4 Christ's maleness is, in turn, the basis for male and female roles within the church (the male priest represents Christ, even while being himself "feminine" towards God); again, the analogies point in both directions. See Balthasar (1986a: 187-98) on the question of women priests.
5 This chapter's discussion of the singleness of the "feminine principle" invites a complementary discussion - which space does not permit - of the empty formality of the "masculine principle" in Balthasar's thought. Men as such (as opposed to priests, apostles, particular thinkers) have no specified characteristics or roles that arise from their "being male"; a fact that itself has major ethical and ecclesiological implications - consider the current rise of movements such as the Promise Keepers with the express intention of rediscovering the role of men within the churches. Concepts such as "initiating," "creating," "forming," associated with the masculine principle, are insufficient in themselves, since they require completion by the specification of objects to be initiated, created, or formed. (I am grateful to Jon Cooley for drawing my attention to this question.)
6 Balthasar even claims that a woman's nurturing and raising, as well as the bearing, of her child constitutes a "response to man" (Balthasar 1991: 158). Not, let it be noted, a response to the child!
7 Ben Quash has observed, in his reading of Mysterium Paschale (Balthasar's fullest treatment of the "descent into Hell" as the point of the greatest separation of Father and Son), the oddity of Balthasar's concentration on the consciousness of Christ in this event; Christ experiences hell and lostness. Quash asks, in effect, whether a Christ who "sees" Hell is really dead - in other words, whether Balthasar has really done justice to the discontinuity of death. In connection with this, he notes the presence of Mary as a "term of continuity." See Quash (1999: 246).
8 They also appear in Balthasar (1982-91: VII, 197), where they "represent and hint at something that becomes full reality in Mary the mother: accompaniment into the absolute forsakenness" (see also Balthasar 1988-98: IV 396).
9 Much has been made in feminist theology, particularly in the work of Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, of the contrast between the "empty tomb tradition" and the "resurrection appearances tradition" (Fiorenza 1995: 119). I do not wish to express an opinion here on the historical-critical question, or to imply that the "empty tomb tradition" must be the focus for feminist theological consideration of the resurrection. I would argue, however, that Balthasar's implicitly "progressive" model of New Testament theologies allows him to ignore the real tensions between the different gospel accounts - as his attempt to turn the women disciples in the Synoptics into a "foreshadowing" of Mary in the Fourth Gospel shows.
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