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Fr Aidan Nichols


No Bloodless Myth

A Guide Through Balthasar's Dramatics

Cover illustration:
Christ as the Man of Sorrows. Medieval painting showing through the later painted black-letter text from Cramner's Bible of 1539. Reproduced courtesy of The Priory Church of St Mary and the Holy Cross, Binham, Norfolk, England. Photograph by Ronald A Chapman.


Preface                               ix
1 Transition from Aesthetics           3

2 Rationale for Dramatics             11
3 The Theatre of the World            21 

Persons In The Drama: Man In God
4 A Spectacular Development?          49 
5 The Two Freedoms                    61
6 Dramatic Anthropology               81

Persons In The Drama: The Person in Christ
7 The Agency of Christ                95
8 The Feminine Counterpart           107
9 Roll-call                          119

The Action
10 Scene of Action                   139
11 The Human Predicament             145
12 The Saving Deed                   157
13 Fruitful Consequences             173

The Last Act
14 Preamble to the Last Act          185
15 Expecting the End                 201
16 Final Scenario                    219
17 Homecoming                        229
18 Retrospective                     241
Select Bibliography                  249

Index of Subjects                    251

Index of Names                       265

By blood we live, the hot, the cold,
To ravage and redeem the world:
There is no bloodless myth will hold.

Geoffrey Hill, Genesis


In No Bloodless Myth (I am once again indebted for a title to Geoffrey Hill), I continue the exploration of Balthasar's great trilogy by considering his sustained (five volume) meditation on the relation between Christianity and the theatre - seen not for its own sake, fascinating though the subject is, but as a parable for the drama of redemption itself. [1] Other writers this century had spotted the theological suggestiveness of drama as an art form. But no one has exploited the rich veins of ore to be found there on this colossal - industrial! - scale.

Theo-Drama is a wonderfully rich and rewarding work. And once again, my aim is to render it more productive for the Church by providing the reader with a guide which will let them see the wood in the trees.

A word on translation. The Anglophone public is fortunate to have
Theodramatik in a translation which is, frankly, a masterpiece.[2] Graham Harrison's English version of the final volume only became available when I had finished this work. I have substituted his translations for my own in the great majority of cases. Where, occasionally, I have preferred my version, the page references to the Ignatius Press edition are given also.

Aidan Nichols, OP
Blackfriars, Cambridge
Memorial day of Blessed Dominic
of the Mother of God, 1998

1. H. U. von Balthasar,
Theodramatik (Einsiedeln 1973-1983).
2. Idem.,
Theo-Drama: Theological Dramatic Theory (San Francisco 1988-1998).

First published 2000

ISBN 0 567 08702 6


Extracts from "No Bloodless Myth" reproduced with the kind permission of the publisher.

Copyright ©; T & T Clark Ltd, 2000

Version: 6th February 2008


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