Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Hans Urs von Balthasar's literary body of work is enormous. His style is erudite and often abstruse. As a result, it is often difficult to systematize and arrange his work into coherent and consistent categories. This dissertation offers the singular category of obedience as a heuristic device to help render the entire von Balthasarian corpus more understandable. For von Balthasar, the word "obedience" is multivalent and rich in meaning. It cuts across all aspects of human relationships, of human relationships with God, and even God's relationship with Himself. This dissertation claims that the meaning of the word "obedience" is central to virtually every claim von Balthasar makes in his vast literary corpus.

I will thoroughly explicate von Balthasar's presentation of obedience by explaining obedience from what I call "obediential vectors." I call them vectors because they are, essentially, the four primary ways one can approach the notion of obedience in von Balthasar's theology. The claim here is that, if one understands these four vectors of approach then one will have a comprehensive and complex understanding of, not only von Balthasar's teaching on obedience, but on von Balthasar's entire corpus. These four-fold vectors are: 1) Christological obedience, 2) Trinitarian obedience, 3) obediential love, and 4) active receptivity as obedience. The first vector demonstrates the central role of obedience in the Christ-event. The second vector shows how the first vector must be located in the Divine relations themselves. The third vector, demonstrates obedience's relationship with self-sacrificial love where it is discovered that obedience and love are virtually synonymous terms. The fourth vector demonstrates the role obedience plays in every relationship between persons, be they Divine persons or human persons by using the notion of active receptivity as the necessary posture to perceive both form and splendor.

After the development of the four vectors, I develop how obedience manifests itself in von Balthasar's theological anthropology answering the question: "how must we, as humans, obey?" Finally, I will outline how the scholar can use the category of obedience to interpret any text of the Christian faith by explicating a hermeneutic of obedience.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.