Sexual-Spousal Love in the Theological Anthropology of V. S. Soloviev: Systematic Analysis and Recent Roman Catholic Interpretation
Sexual-Spousal Love in the Theological Anthropology of V. S. Soloviev: Systematic Analysis and Recent Roman Catholic InterpretationJohn Romanowsky, Ph.D.Director: Peter Casarella, Ph.D.This dissertation analyzes V. S. Soloviev's theological anthropology of sexual-spousal love and assesses its value as a resource for Roman Catholic theology as illustrated in the work of Angelo Cardinal Scola and Hans Urs von Balthasar.It includes the following elements. First, it presents a biography of Soloviev and an overview of the development of his theory of sexual-spousal love in all relevant texts. Second, it analyzes his methodology of "free theosophy." Third, it examines the theoretical foundations of his theory, including his Trinitarian metaphysics of "all-unity," his theology of Christ's divine-humanity, and his aesthetics of "free theurgy." Fourth, it provides an analysis of his theory of human love in general and sexual-spousal love in particular. Fifth, it assesses how Soloviev is used as a resource for contemporary Roman Catholic theological anthropology in Scola's work, The Nuptial Mystery, and von Balthasar's essay, "Soloviev" in The Glory of the Lord, identifying key positive and negative elements.Soloviev argues that the meaning of sexual-spousal love is the realization of the imago Dei or authentic personhood as revealed in "true marriage" and participates in the "great mystery" of Christ's union with the Church (Ephesians 5:32). This love is unique in its power to overcome egoism and is fulfilled in spousal union. It is the "type and ideal" of all human love. The gradual historical realization of this union in "true marriage" is a free, creative, divine-human process dependent on grace, faith, ecclesial communion, and the spiritual and moral "feat" (podvig) of the Christian life. This union will only be perfected in the fullness of the kingdom of God, the wedding of the Bride and the Lamb.Soloviev's ideas anticipate recent dogmatic and theological developments concerning spousal love and union with their emphasis on personhood, love, freedom, and communion, as well as a new focus on theological aesthetics, the former exemplified in Scola's work and the latter in von Balthasar's. Engaging Soloviev could promote progress in a Catholic understanding of sexual-spousal love and union that could help overcome tendencies to moralism, dogmatism, and the abandonment of eros to the secular culture.
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