The poetics of evil : a study of the aesthetic theme in theodicy
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This work proposes to look at the role of aesthetics within Christian theodicy. Though the recent theodicy literature has often displayed suspicion toward the inclusion of aesthetic criteria, I will argue that theological aesthetics can enrich the theodicy discourse and therefore should be used as a resource in responding to the problem of evil. In Part I, I will attempt to lay a foundation for an aesthetically informed theodicy by examining some of the philosophical frameworks that lie behind Christian theodicy, and seeking to illuminate a framework that allows theological aesthetics to helpfully contribute to the task of theodicy. By offering a preliminary account of theological aesthetics, I will aim to further lay a foundation for how the two areas of theology can interact. In Part II, I will look at three distinct aesthetic motifs or “themes” as they are developed by three different theodicists (one ancient and two contemporary): Augustine, Wendy Farley, and Marilyn McCord Adams. Each of the themes developed by these theodicists offers a different example of how aesthetics can reorient and enrich our perspective on theodicy. Though each, in and of itself, is incomplete, I will argue that they complement and critique one another in helpful ways, and therefore that all of them are useful for Christian theodicy.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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