Theses - Divinity


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  • ItemEmbargo
    Politics and Covenant in the Divine Davidic Kinship: A Diachronic Approach to Covenant in the Book of Samuel
    Johnson, Sophia
    Since the Covenant Centrality movement of the late 20th century, Hebrew Bible scholarship has obsessed over categorising different covenants by their formal features, such as conditional and unconditional or unilateral and bilateral. However, these classifications assume that function follows form and thus carry an inherently static conception of covenant. A diachronic approach to the study of covenant in the Hebrew Bible that remains sensitive to the narrative at each editorial level offers a dynamic understanding of the concept as it changes not only over time but between different literary settings. This thesis critiques and advances studies of covenant by presenting a new model for interpreting “berith” both as a literary device and as a textual component, specifically a legal formulation with ongoing consequences, with a view to better interpret the biblical texts as changing historical documents. The book of Samuel, and particularly covenants with David, offer a prime case study, due to their complex composition and innerbiblical reception history. Redaction criticism of narratives describing covenants between David and Jonathan, Abner, and the elders of Israel demonstrates the development of the concept of covenant from a simple bond to an oath of political loyalty or allegiance. These various individual covenants build up to the vision of an undisputed Davidic dynasty cast in 2 Sam 7. Jonathan’s pledge of loyalty in 1 Sam 20 takes away any future Saulide claim to the throne by submitting his descendants to David’s. Abner’s disavowal of Ish-bosheth and covenant rendering service to David in 2 Sam 3 facilitates the administrative transition from within the standing leadership, keeping David from charge of sedition. Finally, the covenant with the elders of Israel accompanying David’s anointment at Hebron in 2 Sam 5 brings all the tribes together under the monarchy, thus linking the ideal united kingdom of Israel with the Davidic kingship. Together they form a legal schema that ungirds a Deuteronomistic ideal of Davidic kingship over a united Israel, grounded in the idealised history of the early Israelite monarchy but looking toward a future restoration. Similar to Neo-Assyrian vassal treaties, the Deuteronomistic writers emphasise the legitimacy and authority of the covenants, which lend explanation, censure, and hope for the future of the people of Israel. I argue that the Deuteronomistic editors adapted covenant to the form of loyalty oaths employed by their imperial neighbours to make claims on those they considered to fall under “United Israel” in anticipation of the re-establishment of Israel’s royal dynasty following the exile. This thesis therefore aims to redirect scholarship on covenant by investigating the purpose and functions of legal forms within the covenant texts of Samuel, elucidating the political significance of these texts in their ancient Near Eastern landscape, and contextualising the stories of Samuel in the historiographical narratives of the early Israelite monarchy as they are presented in the wider Deuteronomistic History.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Mission Churches and African Marriage in Zimbabwe 1890-1970: Contemporary African Christian Dilemmas Over Marriage in Historical and Theological Perspective
    Ngundu, Onesimus A.
    Chapter 1 reviews the relevant literature on African marriage and states the objectives of this study. Chapter 2 describes the main features of the African (Shona) customary marriage of Zimbabwe which are commonly practised among other African ethnic groups in sub-Saharan Africa. Missionary negative attitudes towards African customary marriage were conditioned by their various doctrinal traditions and by the long process whereby the Church in Europe asserted its control over marriage (chapter 3). In place of the African customary marriage, the British colonial authorities introduced statutory marriage law, and claimed jurisdiction over the marriages of all Africans, including Christians (chapter 4). Missionaries, though now denied legal jurisdiction over the marriages of their church members, still required all African Christian couples to wed in church for church purposes (chapters 5 and 6). Chapter 7 analyses a survey of current African Christian attitudes towards marriage and considers three previous scholarly proposals for recognising African customary marriage mainly for church purposes. Whilst there are major differences between male and female perspectives, it is clear that contemporary African Christians would like to discover a way of expressing Christian principles of marriage within a customary marriage framework. The suggested proposal, an African Christian customary marriage ceremony, as put forward in chapter 8, is offered as a theological and pastoral response to the dilemmas surrounding African Christian marriage in sub-Saharan African with special reference to Zimbabwe. The proposed approach, which has already been tried in some churches in current Zimbabwe, is culturally relevant, in conformity to civil law and ecclesiastically acceptable in the country where customary and civil marriage laws co-exist as in independent Africa.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Glorying in a Thorn-Crowned Head: Divine (Im)passibility, Human Suffering, and the Paschal Ecclesiology of the Mystical Body.
    Swailes, Ann
    Two distinct sets of Christian theological responses to human pain are canvassed especially significantly in late modernity, grounded respectively in immanent divine suffering, and in an ecclesiology which holds that baptism efficaciously engrafts its recipients into an ontologically substantial *Corpus Mysticum*. In this thesis, I argue that incorporationist ecclesiology provides richer resources for a theology of suffering than theological passibilism, including a greater potential for chastening that temptation to pathological dalliance with distress which, paradoxically, it shares with passibilist doctrines of God. The rise of divine passibility is conventionally seen as stimulated by the seismic geopolitical events of the mid-20th century. I shall argue, rather, that it is in consequence of a crisis of Christological confidence that theological passibilism appears both more systematically coherent and more pastorally compassionate than its doctrinal polar opposite against such a traumatic backdrop. With Pius XII’s 1943 ecclesiological encyclical *Mystici Corporis Christi* as my point of departure, I shall then begin to sketch an alternative approach to the mystery of suffering, in which incorporationist ecclesiology, divine impassibility, and Chalcedonian Christology are symbiotically supportive. I shall proceed by means of a liturgical-theological thought experiment, arguing that incorporationist ecclesiology permits seeing an intrinsically paschal liturgy as analogically located in cult and quotidian life. Consequently, the juxtaposition of cross and resurrection at the centre of the church’s worship is replicated para-liturgically and artistically, and in the *pathos* of Christians seen as isomorphic with the passion of Christ. Here, I will draw on late Medieval and mid-20th century texts and devotional practices. Key primary sources will be Julian of Norwich, William Langland, and Gerald Vann OP. By thus bringing voices from an era in which incorporationist ecclesiology and theological impassiblism were axiomatic into dialogue with others from the period conventionally credited with the genesis of the “new orthodoxy” of divine passibility, the qualitative difference between the two approaches to the mystery of suffering will be thrown into sharper relief. I also aim to show that incorporationist ecclesiology only reaches its doctrinal – and consolatory - potential when it is fundamentally oriented towards Easter and thus to impassible eschatological bliss.
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    Re-reading Nāgārjuna with Resources from Richard Rorty
    Ilieva, Aleksandra; Ilieva, Aleksandra [0000-0001-5538-1515]
    The central aim of this dissertation is to bring into dialogue certain themes, methods, and concepts drawn from, on the one hand, the 2nd century CE Mahāyāna Buddhist thinker, Nāgārjuna, and, on the other, the Neo-Pragmatist philosopher, Richard Rorty (1931-2007). I highlight two core types of exegetical disagreement amongst Madhyamaka scholars in their philosophical readings of Nāgārjuna’s central texts (the *Mūla-madhyamaka-kārikā* and the *Vigraha-vyāvartanī*), and I re-articulate these debates through a Rortyan Neo-Pragmatist lens. I describe these two types of ongoing disagreement, which I characterise using the metaphor of an oscillation, as metaphilosophical and metalinguistic. They are thematically intertwined – the former is a disagreement over whether we should read Nāgārjuna as primarily engaging in *philosophy* and the latter is a disagreement over whether we should read Nāgārjuna’s *statements* as primarily useful to follow for the goal of liberation or accurately capturing facts about reality. In analysing what these Western interpreters are doing in their philosophical readings, I introduce Rorty as a lively conversational partner with whom to revisit their methodological preferences and conceptual presuppositions. My aim is not to conclusively settle these exegetical debates. Instead, I propose that Rorty’s work can give us some valuable conceptual resources for sidestepping their disagreements because of its extensive engagement with metaphilosophical and metalinguistic motifs in Western academic philosophy. My core argument is that by focussing on Rorty’s articulation of semantic anti-representationalism, that is, the view that the function of language is not to “mirror” or re-present the world, we can reconceptualise these exegetical debates as structured by forced choices which can be avoided. Therefore, the Rortyan (second-order) perspective that I will develop in this dissertation stands at a right angle to the (first-order) contemporary exegetical field where the idiom of representationalism is not directly opposed. I will argue that by not clearly rejecting the idioms and the imageries of representationalism from the outset, the interpretive terrain of Madhyamaka becomes associated with representationalist presuppositions, especially of a semantic variety, and it is these presuppositions that generate and sustain the exegetical debates. Once we have reconfigured, with the help of Rorty, the scholarly terrain anti-representationally and pointed to ways of bypassing these exegetical impasses, I then trace the implications of re-reading Nāgārjuna as an anti-representationalist. In so doing, I show that my proposals have the additional advantage of giving us Neo-Pragmatist tools with which to re-read Nāgārjuna’s Madhyamaka in a way that renders his message less exegetically tortuous and more straightforwardly intelligible.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Israel, Torah and Christ in Matthew and Romans: a Conversation 'Within Judaism'
    Marjot, Oliver
    This thesis is a comparative study of select theological themes in Matthew’s Gospel and Paul’s letter to the Romans. Written in the light of current trends to read both texts ‘within Judaism’, as well as in response to suggestions of a fundamental theological incompatibility between the Matthean and Pauline perspectives in the work of David Sim, Benjamin White and Anders Runesson (among others), the thesis seeks to put Matthew and Romans ‘into conversation’ with one another on three questions that have a particular bearing on the texts’ relation to Judaism. The three substantive chapters focus on 1) the role of Israel as a distinct theological character; 2) the texts’ attitude to Torah observance; and 3) the texts’ soteriological perspectives in relation to first-century Judaism. The methodological approach is primarily theological and, for Matthew, composition- and narrative-critical, meaning that the Gospel is treated as a theologically coherent composition in its final form. Particular attention is paid to the question of intended audience in the exegesis of both texts. The thesis argues that far from representing antithetical or incompatible trends in the first-century Jesus movement, Matthew and Romans exhibit considerable compatibility with one another, and also with first-century Judaism in their perspectives on the theological significance of Israel and on the role of Torah observance in Jewish and mixed Jew-Gentile communities, especially when the question of intended audiences is taken into account. The thesis concludes, however, that despite this continuity with Judaism in some important respects, both Matthew and Romans exhibit significant discontinuity with non-Christian forms of Judaism in their fundamentally Christocentric soteriological perspectives, though here, too, they exhibit broad theological compatibility with one another.
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    Gregory of Nyssa’s Soteriological Imaginary as a Resource for Nonviolent Soteriology
    Black, Hannah Noël
    This project analyzes feminist critiques of the doctrine of the atonement and responds to them by presenting several patterns of constructive, nonviolent atonement language resourced from Gregory of Nyssa’s theology. Chapter One introduces the topic of theological language that is fundamental to feminist critiques of the doctrine of atonement. It also contextualizes the retrieval of patristic metaphors for contemporary soteriological discourse in this thesis. The chapter analyzes the idea of atonement theories as a way of organizing soteriology. It analyzes feminist critiques of atonement theories with a focus on two primary atonement theories: the Anselmian satisfaction theory and penal substitutionary atonement. It shows that many of these critiques relate to the theme of violence. It then examines several recent constructive responses to feminist critiques of violence in atonement theories and concludes that further constructive work needs to be done. Chapter Two introduces the main methodological moves the thesis will make. It shows that feminist critiques of atonement theories are epistemologically rooted in experience and argues that contemporary soteriology, therefore, needs to be attentive to the subjectivity shaping effects, or the internalization, of soteriological discourse. The chapter then introduces two concepts that are well-suited to an experientially sensitive analysis of soteriological concepts: (1) the imaginary and (2) affective salience. Chapter Three introduces Gregory of Nyssa as the primary interlocutor for this project. Gregory is a fitting interlocutor due to his soteriological focus on love and beauty, his theologically sophisticated use of images to communicate abstract theological concepts, and his attention to how his theology might be internalized by its audience. The chapter examines existing scholarship on Gregory’s soteriology as well as Gregory’s holistic view of the doctrine of salvation which does not prize the crucifixion above the incarnation, resurrection, and ascension. Chapter Four analyzes Gregory’s implementation of the soteriological metaphor of healing in the *Oratio catechetica magna*. This includes the image of God as physician as well as imageries such as sickness and the role of pain in the healing process. The chapter considers what humanity is being healed from in Gregory’s soteriology (vice) and the result of humanity’s healing (virtue). It argues that an imaginary shaped by the soteriological image of healing is particularly oriented around the concept of virtue and that the primary affective response the image is intended to evoke is that of gratitude. Chapter Five analyzes the soteriological image of ascent in Gregory’s *De vita Mosis*, which draws on Moses’s ascent of Mount Sinai. The imaginary this image invokes his ideas of perfection and virtue at its core. The affective salience of the image of ascent is that it induces feelings of humility and wonder as well as a sense of community. Chapter Six analyzes the soteriological image of marriage in *In Canticum canticorum*. The extended metaphor of marriage involves images of removing and putting on clothing, experiencing God with the spiritual senses, and the beautification of the bride. The imaginary shaped by marriage imagery is organized around drawing near to and being united with God as a spouse. The affective salience of marriage imagery is that it encourages desire for God and desire for relief from suffering. The Conclusion argues that Gregory of Nyssa’s use of imagery beyond what is usually invoked in modern atonement theories can help broaden the contemporary soteriological horizon in light of feminist critiques of such theories, providing nonviolent and thoroughly biblical soteriological language that has power to shape imaginaries in a positive way and instigate edifying affective responses.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Transcendence, Immanence and the Triunity of God : A Study of William Temple's Philosophical Theology
    Fullerton, James Andrew
    This thesis is not, strictly speaking, an essay in the Christian doctrine of God, nor is it an exhaustive study of William Temple's life and thought. Its subject lies in the area where these two coincide. There are characteristic themes and approaches in Temple's philosophical theology - principally in his three major works, *Mens Creatrix* (1917), *Christus Veritas* (1924), and *Nature, Man and God* (1934) - which it is the purpose of this study to examine with a view to understanding God's relation to the world. Temple's dialectical method of relating natural and revealed theology depends, in some measure, on his concept of revelation. Revelation establishes a pervasive relation between God and the world. The meaning of history is found in the immanent expression of the transcendent will-in-act; and history is therefore the essential self-expression of God. The nature of this relation is formulated by Temple's sacramental model of the relation between God and the process of creation and redemption in history. Temple's understanding of the universe as a sacrament, not simply of God to creation, but of God to himself through creation, is his unique contribution to the problem of framing a coherent doctrine of God. The sacramental formulation of God's relation to the process of creation and redemption, considered both soteriologically and cosmologically, demands a doctrine of the Trinity. Temple suggested this, but never fully formulated it. The thesis demonstrates how trinitarian categories, both "economic" and "immanent", are implied by Temple's understanding of the relation of God to creation. Finally, the thesis considers the freedom of God, a problem Temple never resolved. The sacramental relation between the Trinity and creation appears to establish a necessary relation between God and the activities of creation and redemption. The thesis shows, through a brief consideration of Hegel, that the paradox of freedom and necessity in God's activity is resolved only throught the affirmation that God is love.
  • ItemControlled Access
    Dante's Ministry of Felicity: The Interplay of Beatitude, Metaphysics, and Intercessory Prayer in the Theological Imagination of the 'Commedia'
    Pepper, Stephen
    This thesis is an exercise in theology and Dante studies. It sets as its central research question, “How does intercessory prayer conduce to the realization of beatitude? How does Dante help us think, in other words, about the ways in which prayer for another person’s good actually serves to help make them blessed or happy?” The question stems from conversations that have been taking place especially within the past twenty years in the study of Dante’s theology about beatitude, metaphysics, and prayer in the 'Commedia'. These conversations reflect theological interest in beatitude and causality, prayer and divine and human interaction, and the eschatological dimension of prayer. By asking this question at the heart of these conversations and interests, this thesis offers not only a fresh approach to understanding how Dante’s 'Commedia' might be said to lead people to happiness but also theological insight into the nature, activity, and effectiveness of intercessory prayer. It claims Dante as a relevant source and authority for theological investigation. In response to its central research question, this thesis argues that Dante shows intercessory prayer as acting in accordance with various principles of beatitude. Intercessory prayer can be construed as a form of participation in divine beatitude and a secondary cause of created beatitude. It serves by grace to merit for others, to hope for others, and to behold others in love, and in these ways, it helps to dispose others for the final grace of being raised to the embodied vision and love of God (and of the created order and human image at the heart of God). Intercessory prayer thus comes to be understood in view of the 'Commedia' as an expression of the blessedness of Christ, as an operative perfection of human nature, and as a reflection of what it means for God to be perfect. Dante helps us think of intercessory prayer as grounds for beatitude.
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    The Reimagination of the House of God in the Book of Ezra-Nehemiah
    Lau, Wing Kwan
    This thesis examines how the legal exegesis of Ezra-Nehemiah portrays the house of God. I will explore how four topics are repurposed and belong together to reimagine the house of God in the postexilic period: 1) resumption of cultic worship (Ezra 3:1-13; 6:16-22; Neh 10:33-35), 2) provision of priestly dues (Neh 10:36-40; 12:44-47; 13:4-14), 3) observance of the Sabbath (Neh 5:1-19; 10:32; 13:15-22), and 4) prohibition of intermarriage (Ezra 9-10; Neh 10:31; 13:23-29). These four issues appear in both the agreement of the exiles to obey the Torah (Neh 10:31-40) and various sins described in the book (Ezra 9-10; Neh 5:1-19; Neh 13). The fact that the same issues are presented in both positive and negative light reveals the major concerns of the book. Judging from the cultic emphasis in the pledge (Neh 10), Nehemiah’s final reform (Neh 13) and the restoration project in general, I propose that reading the four stipulations and Ezra-Nehemiah as a whole through the lens of the house of God will bring some fruitful understanding of the book. I argue that the author of Ezra-Nehemiah makes use of these four topics (rebuilding and dedication of the temple, tithes, Sabbath and intermarriage) to reimagine the house of God as the realization of the tabernacle and to map out the social order of the postexilic community.
  • ItemControlled Access
    Collapse Into Silence: Denys the Areopagite as the Key Source of Richard of St. Victor
    Attanasio, Clelia
    This thesis deals with the process of transmission of Pseudo-Dionysius’ texts over the centuries. Dionysius’ texts have been translated into Latin by many scholars- above all, John Eriugena, whose translation was used during the Middle Ages. The school of St. Victor, during the eleventh and twelfth century in France, was strongly fascinated by Eriugena’s translation, as it can be seen from the commentary written by Hugh of St. Victor (c.1096–1141). Richard of St. Victor (c. 1110 – 1173), Hugh’s pupil, also read Denys’ texts and was able to build a system of contemplation based on Pseudo-Dionysius’ philosophy, which can be seen in his text the Benjamin major. In order to render the path these texts took over the centuries, the dissertation describes, first, Pseudo-Dionysius’ philosophy and his Neoplatonic inheritance, especially focusing on Iamblichus’ and Proclus’ philosophy (chapter 1). Then, the study describes the historical and philosophical environment in which Richard of St. Victor developed his contemplative theory in the Benjamin major, and how he came to know Dionysius’ texts in the translation of John Eriugena (chapter 2). Hence, the thesis goes on with a detailed description of the topics and structure of both Richard and Denys’ texts, in order to underline some common themes between these two philosophers (chapter 3). At this point, the study explores and develops the discussion on the common topics identified in the previous chapters, such as angelology, the differences between theurgy and hierurgy and how this difference bears on Richard’s sacramentalism and symbology, the role of Moses as philosophical archetype, and the concept of love when reaching the apex of contemplation (chapter 4). Finally, this thesis offers some possible interpretations to better understand Dionysius’ legacy in Middle Ages, especially in Richard of St. Victor’s texts, based upon what the research has found.
  • ItemOpen Access
    'After Modernity', from Solovyov to Bulgakov
    Miller, Michael
    At the height of the Sophiology-controversy in the mid-1930s, Fr Sergii Bulgakov identified the basic aspiration of his theological programme as a ‘positive overcoming of Modernity’. In this, he was seeking to consummate the reconstruction of Christian thought and culture undertaken in the last two decades of the 19th-century, by Vladimir Solovyóv. In fact, Bulgakov had been carrying forward this project from the very start of his career as a Christian social theorist, at the turn of the century. Thus, despite his distancing from his mentor in the aftermath of 1917 and his exile first to the Crimea and then abroad, Bulgakov remains a Solovyóvian. But Bulgakov’s reception of Solovyóv also involves a revision. This does not, at first, concern the doctrine of the divine Wisdom – the point at which his ‘break’ in the 1920s becomes apparent – but rather Solovyóv’s ‘residual Hegelianism’, which continually threatens to level out the natural and the supra-natural – reason and faith, the secular and the sacred. From the start of his pupillage, Bulgakov is consistently concerned to refuse any such levelling. He thereby does nothing more than extend and complete Solovyóv’s own late ‘apocalyptic turn’, which could not come to fruition due to his premature death in 1900. Thus, if Bulgakov’s post-exilic thought is best understood as an overcoming of the deficiencies in Solovyóv’s speculative theology – the doctrine of Wisdom – this is itself only the last, decisive phase in a long revisionary process. Bulgakov’s move beyond any residual ‘immanent holism’ in his pre-Crimean period can be shown in relation to four crux-themes: first, ‘history’ and ‘science’, the focus of Bulgakov’s revision up to The Philosophy of Economy (1912); and then ‘theurgy’ and ‘theocracy’, both given extensive treatment The Unfading Light and texts from the 1920s that follow upon it.
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    Al-Rāzī's Philosophy of Mind
    Awad, Amal
    This dissertation offers a systematic study of al-Rāzī’s philosophy of mind, exploring his position on the nature of the soul as it developed throughout his intellectual life, with a special focus on al-Maṭālib. In treating the subject matter of the soul, al-Rāzī employs a dialectical methodology (thesis, antithesis and synthesis) in which he adopts a critical stance against both the theologians’ materialism and the philosophers’ (namely Avicenna’s) immaterialism, before constructing his own dualistic theory. The dissertation is therefore set out according to al-Rāzī’s own dialectical schema, whereby I first investigate al-Rāzī’s analysis and critique of the theologians’ materialism, then explore his refutation of Avicenna’s immaterialist doctrine, namely the latter’s indivisibility argument, before looking in detail at al-Rāzī’s own eclectic dualistic theory. I divide my dissertation into five chapters: the first offers a philological study of al-Rāzī’s al-Maṭālib, presenting various observations on a potential relationship between al-Maṭālib and al-Rāzī’s book published under the title Kitāb al-Nafs. The second provides a chronological exploration of al-Rāzī’s positions on the nature of the soul throughout his works; the third deals with his discussion and critique of the theologians’ materialism; the fourth discusses his critique of Avicenna’s indivisibility argument; and finally Chapter 5 dwells on al-Rāzī’s own theory of the soul (his substance dualism).
  • ItemOpen Access
    Stepping in Iration: Rastafari Ital Livity, Ecologies and Ecotheologies in Saint Lucia/Iyanola
    Powell, Joseph
    This dissertation represents an exploration of the ecologies and ecotheologies present within the philosophical outlooks of the Rastafari spiritual movement in St Lucia/Iyanola. Primarily, this research seeks to elucidate “Ital Livity”, a bricolage of Rastafari philosophical and cosmological concepts, and to place it in contemporary dialogue taking place in ecological and ecotheological scholarship. This seeks to generate both awareness of an under researched spiritual group and to further novel connections that might exist between new conversation partners. “Ital Livity” exists as an idealisation of, and a yearning towards, the greenest and most natural form of all in creation - human, non-human, earth, spirit. “Livity” itself serves as a broad categorisation for an individual’s own spiritual outlook, a “lived” spirituality in contrast to one that exists purely conceptually. “Ital” serves an Iyaric ‘I’ form of the word vital to confer a sense of the most essential and most organic form. The two together then convey a sense of the most ‘vital’ and the most organic philosophical outlook, one which valorises and divinises the natural world, humanity, non-humanity, the Almighty, feelings, sounds and vibrations, in their most natural form. This dissertation seeks to explore the development of this rubric, as well as its manifestation in the present. In doing so I attest, as others have, that the development of Rastafari philosophy is intimately connected to the history of the movement as emergent from a context defined by the trans-Atlantic slave trade and its colonial aftermath, as well as the spiritual milieu present in Jamaica in the form Jamaican folk cosmology and Christian inspired religious groups. From this, this dissertation argues that in regards to Ital Livity three core strands emerge which serve to define it in the present, a yearning for the green and organic, a sense of a common divinity and a rejection of death. These core elements are then explored and examined through ethnographic data gathered during fieldwork, crudely divided into chapters exploring the spiritual and the ethereal, the more practical, physical manifestations, and lastly the spiritual sources which inform them. The point reached through all of this allows for an ending which seeks to establish Rastafari Ital Livity as a vibrant and dynamic conversation partner for groups and thinkers operating in ecological and ecotheological spaces, suggesting ultimately that a plurality of voices is fundamentally necessary in generating both sensitivity towards divergent human communities as well as in heightening the possibility of novel ideas and approaches towards the various environmental crises faced today.
  • ItemControlled Access
    Footnotes to Coleridge: A Genealogy of Theology and Literature
    Grefenstette, John
    This dissertation examines Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s theological and literary legacy in the 20th century. My argument does not represent a direct study of Coleridge or his poetry, but rather an analysis of the ways in which Coleridge’s thought has been appropriated (and misappropriated) in recent debates over the nature of the creative imagination. My objective is to trace a genealogy of Coleridge’s influence on theories of the relationship between literary and theological forms of knowledge. To this end, my study attends to competing conceptions of imaginative literature as an irreducible mode of doing theology or apprehending theological claims. I focus on a debate that unfolds between four self-styled successors to Coleridge: T.S. Eliot, Owen Barfield, Harold Bloom, and Geoffrey Hill. I identify in this lineage of poet-theologians a tacit dispute that turns on competing interpretations of Coleridge’s theory of the imagination: particularly what it means to say the imagination is ‘incarnational’, that it can create or ‘body forth’ contingent knowledge in poetry. I situate this debate with respect to the emergence of ‘theology and literature’ as a discrete field of inquiry in the 20th century in the work of figures like Nathan Scott, Martha Nussbaum, Rowan Williams, and Michael Hurley. I ultimately argue that the subdiscipline of theology and literature is, in ways seldom acknowledged, a fundamentally Coleridgean venture; that while Coleridge is often reduced to a footnote in the field, recent practices in theology and literature are more productively understood as a series of competitive responses or footnotes to Coleridge.
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    The Dwelling of the Word: On Creatures as Signs of God
    Leith, Peter
    This thesis seeks to flesh out Augustine’s incipient semiotic theological anthropology, in which to be a creature is to be a sign of God. Because of the way in which signs function, I argue that our (ecological) embeddedness in place is central for what it means to be a sign of God, and therefore for what it means to be a creature. By drawing on the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, I suggest that being in place involves dwelling in the ecologies of relationship that we find ourselves in, and that such dwelling entails interpreting creatures as infinitely significant signs of God. To interpret creatures in this manner is, I contend, what it means to live faithfully as signs of God. However, our ability to dwell is hampered by sin, and I explore this through engagement with Heidegger’s critique of Enframing and Augustine’s distinction between use and enjoyment. By drawing on the Gospel of John, I argue that our ability to dwell is redeemed by Christ’s dwelling, and that it is only as members of the body of Christ that we can truly dwell (and, therefore, properly interpret creatures). Through our membership of the body of Christ, we are enabled, by dwelling as Christ, to faithfully participate in God’s creative and redemptive activity, God’s own act of interpretation.
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    The Moral Characterisation of the Ἰουδαῖοι: A Comparative Study of Opponents to the Divine in the Gospel of John and Euripides' Bacchae
    Habib, Thomas
    This thesis examines the moral characterisation of divine opponents in Euripides’ Bacchae and the Gospel of John, comparing the characterisation of Pentheus, the divine opponent in Euripides’ Bacchae, with the Ἰουδαῖοι in John, including those characters directly identified as belonging to this group (the Pharisees, Chief Priests, and Nicodemus). I argue that ancient Greek writers held a primarily moral conception of character. Throughout Greek literature, characters were conceived of and evaluated primarily according to their virtues and vices, as writers sought to give ethical intelligibility to their actions. This focus upon evaluating moral character stands in contrast to more modern, Western approaches, which rather seek to understand a character’s individuality and personal perspective. I argue that the moral distinctiveness of ancient Greek characterisation has been largely overlooked in Johannine character studies. Most of these studies have been shaped by modern, Western conceptions of character that either reduce Johannine characters to representative types or problematise them as ambiguous individuals who resist any evaluation. This is particularly the case with past character studies of the Ἰουδαῖοι, which cast this character as either representatives of unbelief or ambiguous agents who defy the stark dualism of John. I conclude that there is a need for a reading of the Ἰουδαῖοι that grapples with their character complexity without overlooking the moral and evaluative aspects of their characterisation. Noting this lacuna, I stress the importance of reading the Ἰουδαῖοι through the lens of ancient Greek characterisation. To do so, this thesis offers a comparative study between the moral characterisation of the Ἰουδαῖοι in John and the divine opponent par excellence from Greek tragedy, Pentheus from Euripides’ Bacchae. Noting similarities and distinctives in both form and content, I explore how the Bacchae informs our understanding the moral characterisation of the Ἰουδαῖοι in John. This thesis consists of five chapters and a conclusion. The first, introductory chapter argues for the centrality of moral character as an ancient Greek literary distinctive, and the importance of reading Johannine characters through this moral lens. The chapter then argues for the heuristic value of comparing the moral character of the Ἰουδαῖοι with the character of Pentheus in the Bacchae. The second, third and fourth chapters provide a detailed, exegetical reading of John, examining passages which characterise the Ἰουδαῖοι and comparing them with the moral characterisation of Pentheus in the Bacchae. This integrated approach to the study of John and the Bacchae highlights the similarities and distinctives of moral characterisation, in both form and content. Having concluded from these chapters that John portrays a morally complex portrait of the Ἰουδαῖοι, our final chapter explores the form and function of complex characterisation in ancient Greek literature. I argue that the complex characterisation of the Ἰουδαῖοι contributes to a dialectical inquiry within the text, exploring the tension between the Law and cultic practices of the Ἰουδαῖοι and the claims of Jesus. I conclude that whilst John morally condemns those Ἰουδαῖοι who continue to oppose Jesus, he does not condemn this corporate character as an ethnic group, rather affirming their law and cultic practices whilst rejecting any sense of ethnic particularism.
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    Writing the Name: Sergii Bulgakov and the Discipline of Speculation
    Heath, Joshua
    This thesis is a critical exposition of the work of Russian philosopher-theologian Sergii Bulgakov (1871-1944). It provides a much-needed account of his work that illuminates his centrality within twentieth-century Russian philosophy of language, and reveals his capacity to revitalise conversations in Western metaphysics and philosophy of language. The work of Bulgakov has been the object of increasing attention in Christian theology, fuelled by the recent translation of Bulgakov’s major theological works into English. Yet the focus of scholarly attention remains largely restricted to the texts produced in the last decade of Bulgakov’s life and confined to theological circles. There has been little attempt to read Bulgakov for what his work can offer to other disciplines, despite the fact that Bulgakov was, for much of life, principally engaged in economics, political theory and philosophy. My thesis addresses this twofold restriction. It takes Bulgakov’s texts about language, subjectivity and the doctrine of the Trinity, written in the 1920s, as the interpretive key to Bulgakov’s œuvre: they mark the culmination of his preceding work and provide the fundamental conceptual basis for his subsequent theological works. In particular, my thesis shows how the whole of Bulgakov’s corpus represents a continuous engagement with the perennial philosophical concept of unity. I show how Bulgakov is continually preoccupied with the unity of the subject with the world (a theme bequeathed by German Idealism), the unity of the subject with other subjects (within the Russian sobornost’ tradition), the unity of the world with God and, finally, the unity of God with God (Christian theology). Bulgakov’s lifelong project is the pursuit of a metaphysics, or account of reality, that will integrate these various kinds of unity. With the turn to language, this thesis argues, Bulgakov finds the means for doing so, as the complex unity of the grammatical proposition (subject-copula-predicate) becomes the paradigm for understanding the unities that fascinate him. The argument of this thesis has two strands. First, it articulates – on the basis of close analysis of Bulgakov’s texts on language – what I call Bulgakov’s ‘linguistic metaphysics’, i.e., Bulgakov’s account of language as fundamental to reality. Through this account of Bulgakov’s metaphysics, the thesis arrives at its second aim: an account of Bulgakov’s understanding of the nature of intellectual activity. This thesis maintains that Bulgakov’s picture of language as unifying leads to a reading of Bulgakov’s own texts as a unifying effort. In particular, I show in the second half of the thesis how Bulgakov’s work is a practice of reading and writing that attempts to overcome the tragedies of diremption and loss that characterise Russian history and, within that, his own life. His writing on the death of his son, the betrayal of Jesus by Judas and the generation of the Son by the Father within the Trinity are as many exercises in discerning unity and coherence within instances of apparently irredeemable division. These exercises in reading and writing thus have as their end a renewed capacity for action within a history that previously appeared to be a movement of inexorable fragmentation. In doing so, my thesis breaks new ground on several fronts. It counters a prevailing view of Bulgakov’s work in linguistic philosophy as ‘incidental’, whose significance is wholly explained by the discussions surrounding the Name of God (the imiaslavie controversy) that animated the Russian Orthodox Church in 1910-1918. Instead, I show how Bulgakov’s linguistic philosophy reveals the profound coherence of his œuvre. This focus on his linguistic philosophy also enables a considerably wider reception of his work. Appreciation of Bulgakov’s intellectual achievements has been hampered by his apparent esotericism, particularly in his emphasis on the ‘Divine Wisdom’. My thesis interprets Bulgakov’s writing on the ‘Divine Wisdom’ within his concern with unity and particularly the unity of history. I thus show how Bulgakov’s ‘Sophiology’ is not idle speculation, but an existential engagement with the possibilities for human action. In this way, his work is a model of a metaphysical thinking whose stakes are always a renewed engagement with the present.
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    Dante, Augustine, and the Body of Christ in the Commedia
    Graff, Thomas
    In this thesis, I investigate the figure of Christ in Dante’s Commedia as the redemption of human relation, realized in and as the mystical body of Christ. If, as is claimed in the Paradiso, what it means to inhabit beatitude is so fully to practice justice and mercy as to be able to speak I and we simultaneously, then the redemption of self and other in Christ is inextricably linked, and oriented towards the ever-greater opening out of this redemptive life not only to those who have abandoned hope, but also to those of whom one abandons hope of eternal life. It is towards this radical soteriological vision of the “redemptive communality” of the body of Christ that Dante can be seen most concertedly and profoundly to engage with Augustine. Dante’s predominant interest, as I hope to show, lies in Augustine’s theology of love, and takes the form in the present argument of a tripartite meditation on the reality of love as irreducible, as effusive, and as incorporative, offering critical, constructive, and meta-textual modes of articulating the redemptive communality of Christ, respectively. Throughout, I argue that Dante can be seen to adopt Augustine’s theology of love in order ultimately to “redeem” it, regarding the premature limits it sets upon its redemptive remit, with regards not only to the civitas terrena, but ultimately to its eschatological fulfillment in the massa damnata.
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    The Plan of Salvation in the Letters to Timothy and Titus
    Percival, John
    The New Testament letters to Timothy and Titus (LTT) are often lumped together as “The Pastoral Epistles.” While there are understandable reasons for this approach, it has meant that the distinctive contribution of each of the three letters has not been sufficiently considered. Furthermore, narrative approaches to the Pauline letters have led to fruitful explorations of their theology, especially from a salvation-historical perspective, but these approaches have not been applied to the LTT, at least in part due to their marginal status in the conversation. Taken together, this has impoverished our understanding of the theology and purpose of the LTT. Therefore, this thesis employs a narrative approach to examine the salvation-historical outlook of each of the LTT. This is accomplished by adopting minimal assumptions about authorship and reviewing each letter in turn, describing the components of a narrative “plan of salvation.” The relationship between the elements of the plan is examined so as to shed light on the narrative world, theology and, especially, the rhetorical purpose of the letter. For such short letters, there is a wealth of data and clear differences between the three. Thus we are able to identify areas where the letters have been misrepresented or misunderstood in scholarly literature, offering a fresh and creative contribution to scholarship on the LTT. The outcome is a clearer understanding of the distinctive contribution of each letter, particularly in terms of the plan of salvation as conceived from a narrative perspective.
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    A Hindu Perspective on Justice in a World of Suffering: A Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Response to the Problem of Evil
    Gupta, Akshay
    The problem of evil is one of the most powerful objections to perfect being theism, according to which, God is conceptualized as the personal omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent God. Certain versions of this problem, as developed in recent decades in Anglophone philosophy of religion, pertain to Hindu traditions such as Vaiṣṇavism. However, relatively little attention has been paid to the theological insights of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda (1896-1977), who is an influential guru within the Caitanya Vaiṣṇava tradition and whose teachings provide responses to this problem. In this dissertation, I address this scholarly lacuna by examining Prabhupāda’s lectures, conversations, and exegetical writings in order to reconstruct his theodicy and develop my own theodicy (which builds on that of Prabhupāda) and illustrate its relevance for contemporary discourses within Anglophone philosophy of religion. More specifically, I discuss William Rowe’s evidential argument from evil and demonstrate that the theodicy that I develop can account for the existence of the types of horrendous evil that Rowe describes. Throughout the dissertation, I examine various objections to the karman doctrine that is a core component of my theodicy. I conclude that my theodicy can provide a compelling response to Rowe’s evidential argument from evil. I also illustrate how this theodicy can respond to some other formulations of the problem of evil, such as those advanced by Paul Draper. Given the specific word count, I do not comprehensively analyze such formulations. However, I seek to pave for further exploration in subsequent work. I now offer a brief summary of my dissertation. In chapter 1, I explicate the problem of evil and some of its variants. Next, I provide some background information about the Caitanya Vaiṣṇava tradition as well as Prabhupāda’s life and work. I also survey various responses to the problem of evil, both within and outside Hindu thought. In chapter 2, I lay the conceptual foundations for the dissertation by describing how God, selves, and free will are conceived within Prabhupāda’s theological framework. I argue that Prabhupāda’s conceives of God as being all-good, all-powerful, and all-knowing. I maintain that selves in Prabhupāda’s conceptual framework are free, according to a definition of freedom that I put forth and develop. I also establish a moral ontology that defines the highest good as divine love of God. In chapter 3, I begin to reconstruct Prabhupāda’s theodicy by outlining the root cause of suffering according to Prabhupāda, namely, the finite self’s decision to freely leave the company of God in a supramundane realm that lies beyond this physical world. I examine and bolster Prabhupāda’s defense of this view, which is that a world where selves are endowed with free will, even at the risk of misusing it, is better than a world where selves lack such volitional capacity. I also respond to a variety of other arguments against free will theodicies, such as those recently put forth by Laura Ekstrom. In chapter 4, I then turn my attention to reconstructing Prabhupāda’ karman doctrine and discuss various soteriological implications of this doctrine. I defend its coherence of this doctrine against various objections, including James Sterba’s objection against free will theodicies. Moreover, I discuss why God does not override karmic mechanisms. In chapter 5, I address various objections to a karman doctrine, such as those recently advanced by Whitley Kaufman. For instance, I demonstrate how karmic mechanisms can serve a soteriologically beneficial purpose even when individuals do not recall the actions in the past that have led to their experience of karmic consequences. I also argue that karmic mechanisms do not threaten moral responsibility nor undermine free will. In chapter 6, I describe why, according to Prabhupāda, some devotees of God suffer even though various scriptural passages state that devotees are no longer under the influence of karmic mechanisms. In short, Prabhupāda holds that God consciously orchestrates such instances of suffering for devotees in order for them to learn various soul-making lessons. I also respond to various other objections such as: “why does God not make God’s presence felt when individuals are undergoing suffering?” In chapter 7, I summarize the major themes discussed in previous chapters. I also explain the significance of my theodicy in the light of some contemporary Anglophone philosophical discourses surrounding the problem of evil.