Symposium Introduction


Euan Grant
D. Stephen Long
Joseph Flipper
Philip McCosker
Susan Wood



The French Jesuit Henri de Lubac (1896–1991) was one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century. The publication of his Surnaturel in 1946, addressing the issue of the interrelation of nature and the supernatural, precipitated one of the most far-reaching theological debates of the century, culminating in a new historical, methodological, and theological consensus on the topic. And yet the question continues to be debated: How should de Lubac’s position be understood? Although many have suggested that de Lubac saw human nature as always-already graced, in Henri de Lubac and the Drama of Human Existence, Jordan Hillebert advances a new reading of de Lubac’s theology of the supernatural that is at variance with most prevailing interpretations. Through his analysis of how a “hermeneutics of human existence” pervades de Lubac’s writings, Hillebert argues that, in de Lubac’s theology, the relation between the human being and humanity’s supernatural finality is best considered in terms of the “supernatural insufficiency of human nature.” In this way, Hillebert demonstrates that de Lubac’s theology of the supernatural offers a via media between neo-scholastic “extrinsicism” on the one hand and post-conciliar “intrinsicism” on the other.

Although some authors have drawn attention to the theme of human existence in de Lubac’s writings, Henri de Lubac and the Drama of Human Existence is an original study that shows how a hermeneutics of human existence provides an interpretative key to his writings—especially in regard to the controversial question of the relation of nature and the supernatural. Due to the book’s broad ecumenical appeal, it will interest scholars in the fields of modern theology and, more specifically, Roman Catholic theology.

Reviews and Endorsements 

“Jordan Hillebert has identified the core, unifying element of de Lubac’s project. Henri de Lubac and the Drama of Human Existence will be a touchstone for any future assessment and evaluation of de Lubac’s writings.” —Matthew Levering, author of Aquinas’s Eschatological Ethics and the Virtue of Temperance

“Jordan Hillebert has done us the service of developing a synthetic, holistic reading of de Lubac that is clear, persuasive, and interesting, and that sets aside some highly influential recent misreadings. Henri de Lubac and the Drama of Human Existence is undoubtedly the best book on de Lubac I know, and I would recommend it to students and scholars at every level.” —Karen Kilby, author of Balthasar

“This is a compelling and helpful treatment of de Lubac’s thought, and surely the best account of his theological anthropology available in the English language.” —The Living Church

“Hillebert demonstrates an impressive mastery of de Lubac’s thought. . . . Hillebert offers his readers both a deep dive into the nuances of de Lubac’s thought and a compelling argument about how best to understand it for contemporary theological conversations.” —Journal of Jesuit Studies

“Hillebert’s ability to exposit and synthesize so many of de Lubac’s works makes the book an excellent guide for those unfamiliar with de Lubac and the breadth of his contributions to modern theology.” —Modern Theology

‘In Henri de Lubac and the Drama of Human Existence, Jordan Hillebert provides a fresh and compelling interpretation of Henri de Lubac’s position on the supernatural.” —Reading Religion

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