A Key to Balthasar

Hans Urs von Balthasar on Beauty, Goodness, and Truth

Cover Art Request Exam Copy

Where to Purchase

More Options


"A penetrating discussion of Balthasar's participation metaphysic. Few theological books are as pertinent, both culturally and doxologically, as this exercise in epistemological optimism!"--Hans Boersma, Regent College

Hans Urs von Balthasar is widely recognized as perhaps the greatest Catholic theologian of the twentieth century. No writer has better revealed the spiritual greatness of the revelation to which the art of the church and the historic liturgies bear witness. Yet students and nonspecialist readers often find Balthasar daunting and difficult. This volume is the ideal introduction to his work. It unlocks the treasure of his theology by focusing on the beautiful, the good, and the true. These are the three qualities of being around which his great trilogy--The Glory of the Lord, Theo-Drama, and Theo-Logic--revolves. Though brief, the book captures the essence of what Balthasar wished to say.
1. Key-word 'Being': Balthasar and the Transcendentals
2. Key-word 'Form': Balthasar and the Beautiful
3. Key-word 'Freedom': Balthasar and the Good
4. Key-word 'Logic': Balthasar and the True


"Combining profundity of thought with lucidity of expression, Aidan Nichols offers a penetrating discussion of Balthasar's participation metaphysic. The fruit of decades of reading the German theologian, this little gem captures the unity of his massive trilogy on beauty, goodness, and truth by way of devotional exposition, thereby reminding us of theology's basis in prayer and purpose of holiness. Few theological books are as pertinent, both culturally and doxologically, as this exercise in epistemological optimism!"

Hans Boersma, J. I. Packer Professor of Theology, Regent College

The Author

  1. Aidan Nichols OP

    Aidan Nichols OP

    Aidan Nichols, OP (PhD, University of Edinburgh), of Blackfriars, Cambridge, is a lecturer at the University of Cambridge. He previously served as John Paul II Memorial Visiting Lecturer at the University of Oxford and as a Fellow of Greyfriars, Oxford. He is...

    Continue reading about Aidan Nichols OP


"Because beauty and goodness are inseparable from truth, ethics and theology are not discrete disciplines but complementary discourses on the same subject. Balthasar helps us to realize that the subject of theology and ethics is a Subject, the triune One who draws us into divine beauty, goodness, and truth. Nichols shows us how Balthasar does that in this winsome and elegant introduction. "

D. Brent Laytham,

Christian Century

"[This book] provides a succinct gloss on essential themes that stretch across von Balthasar's expansive works. . . . Nichols offers a helpful and brief introduction to the presupposing ideas that fuel von Balthasar's sprawling prose. . . . The brevity of the work gives its ideas freshness and clarity, and it works extremely well as an introductory text."

Anne M. Carpenter,

Catholic Books Review

"Balthasar is widely regarded as the most important Catholic theologian of the 20th century and has garnered enormous scholarly attention in recent decades, yet his immense output and distinctive style make his works very daunting to read without assistance. [This book] can help."

Amy Plantinga Pauw,

Christian Century

"For many years I have been intending to dig into the work of the Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988), whose work, especially in theological aesthetics, has been profoundly influential. However, the Balthasar corpus is large. . . . Where does one begin? Aidan Nichols' pithy new book A Key to Balthasar happily provides the answer. I don't know what impressed me more about this text--the clarity of Nichols' exposition or his restraint, as he manages to provide substantive windows into Balthasar's theology in a mere 115 pages. . . . In so slim a volume Nichols can only provide the most general overview of Balthasarian themes. But he certainly succeeds in whetting the reader's appetite for a more in-depth study."

Jim Spiegel,

Wisdom & Folly blog