David Bentley Hart on Trinitarian Being

In Hart’s final section on the Trinity before turning his attention to the doctine of creation (The Beauty of the Infinite), the author unfolds his trinitarian ontology proper. Along the way he takes up several significant conversation partners including Heidegger , Caputo, Scharlemann, Barth, and Jean-Luc Marion.

James’ Quote and Commentary

Against Karl Barth, Hart defends the analogia entis (analogy of being) as the only way to maintain God’s true transcendence:

To state the matter simply, the analogy of being does not analogize God and creatures under the more general category of being, but is the analogization of being in the difference between God and creatures; it is as subversive of the notion of a general and univocal category of being as of the equally “totalizing” notion of ontological equivocity, and thus belongs to neither pole of the dialectic intrinsic to metaphysical totality: the savage equivalence of univocity and equivocity, Apollo and Dionysus, pure identity and pure difference (neither of which can open a vantage upon being in its transcendence).

For precisely this reason, the analogia entis is quite incompatible with any naive “natural theology”: if being is univocal, then a direct analogy from essences to “God” (as the supreme substance) is conceivale, but if the primary analogy is one of being, then an infinite analogical interval has been introduced between God and creatures, even as it is affirmed that God is truly declared in creation (for God is, again, infinitely determinate and is himself the distance – the act of distance – of the analogical interval). Thus, the analogia entis renders any simple “essentialist” analogy impossible.

I’m just going to let this stand and invite any defenders of Barth to state their protest.

Kent’s Quote and ‘Commentary’

In light of the birth of our second child this week, I will simply leave you with a quote that points ahead to Hart’s theology of creation:

For a trinitarian theology, in command of its proper analogical ontology, God is not touched or limited by the ontological difference, not because he is simply beyond being altogether or because he comprises being and nonbeing (or God and not-God), but because, inasmuch as he is the actus of all beings, the “fold” of the ontological difference is unfolded in him from the first: and so he exceeds this difference in creation, makes it his mystery or the occasion of the showing of his mystery (p. 236).


One thought on “David Bentley Hart on Trinitarian Being

  1. I’m slightly frustrated by not being able to see the larger context of the quote in James’s section. (Come on Merrick! Push “fair use” to the limit! Type in the whole chapter!)

    Regardless, I can’t determine what precisely is “analogical” about an “infinite” “interval” Is it even possible to “analogize” two things without some larger general category from which to draw shared characteristics or whatever? Somebody’s going to have to enlighten me.

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