Artful living and the eradication of worry in Søren Kierkegaard's interpretation of Matthew 6:24-34
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Danish thinker Søren Kierkegaard published fourteen discourses, across four collections, on Matthew 6:24-34. The repeated readings of the biblical text, whose themes include the choice between God and mammon, worry, what it means to consider the birds and lilies, and how to seek first the kingdom of God, converge with Kierkegaard’s interest in anxiety, despair, worry, subjectivity, indirect communication, choice, the moment, and life before God. Accordingly, the discourses make connections with his larger works, elucidate frequently explored Kierkegaardian themes in recent scholarship, and contribute to his critique of nineteenth-century Copenhagen. Additionally, the collections present an interpretation of each verse and phrase of Matthew’s text and, held up against modern Matthew scholarship, they correlate with and contribute to Sermon on the Mount and New Testament studies. Kierkegaard’s reading of Matthew also holds implications for the practice of biblical interpretation as it promotes the importance of awareness of sin, interestedness, and appropriation as central to proper reading. His emphasis on Christ as the primary exemplar of Matthew’s text adds an additional Christological element to his hermeneutic. Furthermore, the discourses serve as spiritual treatises which provide the reader with theological terminology to help confront the problem of worry and suffering. In light of a human being’s distinctiveness as imago Dei, Kierkegaard elucidates ways an individual may respond artfully to the ongoing possibility of worry, a possibility which the discourses connect with Christian anthropology and external labels associated with possessions and status. The Matthew 6 discourses intimate Kierkegaard’s sympathy with classic Christian spirituality and, in combination with the cultural-ecclesiastical critique, the creative exegesis, and the in-depth analysis of the cause of and cure for worry, his work emerges as an excellent example of spiritual theology.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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