Incorporating xiao: exploring Christ's filial obedience through Hans Urs von Balthasar and early Confucian philosophy

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Theology


Department of Religious Studies


Advisor: William L. Portier


The principal goal of this dissertation is to demonstrate that the Confucian interpretation of xiao (filial piety") provides a fruitful hermeneutical lens for Christology in two respects. Most immediately, I argue the early Confucian xiao is a salutary resource for understanding, appreciating, clarifying, and amending the Christology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, who gave profound importance to Christ's obedience in his thought. More generally, I argue the Confucian reading of xiao can help theologians enter into the mysteries of the Church's Christological dogmas and doctrines in new and expansive ways. Consequently, the main argument of the dissertation is that through Balthasar and the early Confucian tradition, we arrive at a rich and compelling orthodox account of Christ's filial love and obedience. After situating the dissertation's theological approach to incorporating Confucian philosophy in chapter 1, the dissertation develops two sets of studies. The first is devoted to examining and exploring Balthasar's Christology on its own terms. The second is similarly devoted to analyzing themes in the Confucian treatment of xiao on its own terms. The final chapter of the dissertation undertakes a theological synthesis of these two studies, showing how the combination of Balthasar's theological vision and the Confucian philosophical distinctions produce fruitful reflections on how Christ's filial obedience functions within and expresses his life as eternal Son."


Jesus Christ Procession, Balthasar, Hans Urs von, 1905-1988 Criticism and interpretation, Filial piety China, Filial piety Religious aspects Confucianism, Trinity, Comparative, Theology, Philosophy, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Confucianism, comparative theology, Christology, obedience, filial piety, Chinese philosophy, systematic theology

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