Hope in Action: Subversive Eschatology in the Theologies of Edward Schillebeeckx and Johann Baptist Metz

Doctoral Dissertation


This dissertation offers a historical and comparative analysis of Edward Schillebeeckx’s prophetic eschatology and Johann Baptist Metz’s apocalyptic eschatology with the goal of identifying relative advantages and limitations of each project for rendering a Christian account of hope that prompts action in the public arena. In tracing the historical developments of their work, the study underscores the important relationship between each theologian’s increasingly sophisticated social analysis and the emergence of eschatology as a practical and subversive theological category. Chapter One begins by examining the interplay of creation and eschatology in Metz’s early theological engagement with mid-twentieth century interpretations of secularization. It then surveys his shift to a “political eschatology” and the corresponding emergence of a utopic theology of history in his writings from the mid-1960s. Chapter Two traces similar developments in Schillebeeckx’s writings, examining his own reassessment of the processes of secularization and his positioning of eschatology as an “active hope.” Chapter Three identifies significant shifts in Schillebeeckx’s maturing eschatological project, including his employment of a more critical social analysis, a heightened sensitivity to the history of suffering, and the emergence of an eschatology grounded in a creation faith that seeks to stimulate the fragmented mediation of salvation in the world. As Chapter Four reveals, Metz followed a similar trajectory, but his critical analysis of the modern situation led to a turn to apocalypticism as the temporal framework that might sustain the Christian’s subversive hope within an age of apathy. The conclusion brings these projects into dialogue and presents a comparative analysis. First, it underscores three pivotal interests that increasingly but persistently characterized each theologian’s project. Then, it assesses Schillebeeckx’s mature eschatology in light of Metz, noting the relationship between Schillebeeckx’s prophetic eschatology sustained by creation faith and potential limitations in his social analysis. Finally, it assesses Metz’s project in light of Schillebeeckx, drawing out the disadvantages of a practical apocalyptic eschatology constrained by a negative theology of creation.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-04172009-122129

Author Steven Michael Rodenborn
Advisor Mary Catherine Hilkert
Contributor J. Matthew Ashley, Committee Member
Contributor Mary Catherine Hilkert, Committee Chair
Contributor Robert Krieg, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Theology
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2008-08-18

Submission Date 2009-04-17
  • United States of America

  • Schillebeeckx

  • political theology

  • eschatology

  • hope

  • Metz

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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