Sunday, May 28, 2006

Eberhard Jüngel: A Dialogical Ontology

The following is a selection from my recent paper on Eberhard Jüngel, entitled "Humanity in Correspondence to God: Divine-Human Dialogue in Eberhard Jüngel's Theological Ontology." I quote this now--with future quotations on the way--for the purpose of starting a dialogue about two things: (1) Jüngel's conception of analogy as analogia adventus, or "analogy of advent"; and (2) dialogical ontology, or a linguistic I-Thou ontology. Both are central to Jüngel, so consider this the first installment towards comprehending this aspect of his theology more fully. I've placed the important footnote info in parenthetical references.

The being of humanity is constituted and organized by the word. We are ourselves as hearers. Only because we can hear are we able to speak, think, act, be human. As hearers we centre ourselves upon God’s relation to us, in order to correspond to our God. (Theological Essays I, 145)
Jüngel’s theology is a dialogical theology of the word. It is a dialogue initiated and maintained by God alone as the one who communicates out of the depths of divine being into the depths of created being. As a result, Jüngel’s theology is simply incomprehensible without robust doctrines of the Trinity and revelation—the former grounding the latter. In this section, we are concerned specifically with the divine-human dialogue as initiated by God. This word-event begins, for Jüngel, in God’s self-correspondence, which takes two forms: as internal dialogue (ad intra) in triunity and as external dialogue (ad extra) in revelation. God’s effective correspondence to humanity results in humanity’s correspondence to God, in noetic and ontological terms—in the knowledge of God and the new being of humanity, respectively. All of this is grounded in Jüngel’s christocentrism, which radicalizes Barth’s starting point that “the Son makes the hidden Father audible, visible, and knowable” (Alan Lewis, Between Cross and Resurrection, 183) by subjecting all theological categories to this ratio cognoscendi: God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ, the Crucified One. According to Jüngel, Jesus reveals how to think about God (e.g., passible, relational), how to speak about God, and most importantly for our purposes, how to be in correspondence with God. Jüngel connects these three aspects together in his term, analogia adventus or “analogy of advent.”


Patrick McManus said...


thanks for this well-needed blog. I'm a big fan of Jüngel's theology and currently I'm working on Jüngel's engagement with Aquinas in God as the Mystery.

Jüngel's theology of death will also feed into my dissertation as well as the work of his student, Wolf Krötke, Sin and Nothingness in Karl Barth.

Again, thanks and I've bookmarked this site. I hope to contribute now and then in response to your posts.



Rev. Joseph G. Steadman said...

Every good train of thought, Keep informing the people!

God Bless,
The Rev.