Book

Fortunate Fallibility

Jason A. Mahn

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199790661
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897391 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199790661.001.0001

Series: AAR Reflection and Theory in the Study of Religion Series

Fortunate Fallibility

Show Summary Details

Preview

This book deconstructs and reconstructs the fortunate Fall (felix culpa) theme of Western thought, using Kierkegaard as a guide. Dating back to the fifth century Easter Eve Mass, the claim that Adam's Fall might be considered “fortunate” in light of a resultant good has become Christianity's most controversial and unwieldy idea. Whereas the phrase originally praised sin as a backhanded witness to the ineffability of redemption, modern speculative theodicy came to understand all evil as comprehensible, historically productive, and therefore fortunate, while the Romantic poets celebrated transgression for bolstering individual creativity and spiritedness. This book traces Kierkegaard's blunt critique of Idealism's justification of evil, as well as his playful deconstruction of Romantic celebrations of sin. The book argues, however, that Kierkegaard also resists the moralization of evil, preferring to consider temptation and sin as determinative dimensions of religious existence. At least in relation to the assumed “innocence” of Christendom's cultured Christians, the self-conscious sinner might be the better religious witness. Although the book shows how Kierkegaard finally replaces actual sin with human fragility, temptation, and the possibility of spiritual offense as that which “happily” shapes religious faith, it also argues that his understanding of “fortunate fallibility” is at least as rhetorically compelling and theologically operative as talk of a “fortunate Fall.” Together, Kierkegaard's playful maneuvers and this book's thematizations carve rhetorical space for Christian theologians to speak of sin in ways that are more particular and peculiar than the typical discourses of Church and culture.

Keywords: sin; Christian theology; Kierkegaard; fortunate fall; felix culpa; romanticism; Hegel; fallibility; deconstruction; evil

Book.  288 pages. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »


Table of Contents

Figuring a Fortunate Fall in Fortunate Fallibility

Chapter

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Postscript in Fortunate Fallibility

Chapter

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.