LITERATURE AND CHRISTIANITY: THE ASPECT OF THEODICY

Dalia Čiočytė

Abstract


Literature is a form of human consciousness, so the main question raised by literary theological thought is more concerned with the human being than with God. Literature interprets and seeks to explain the existential experience of the individual and society. God appears in the context of literary introspection when artistic thought seeks for the ontological essence and existential meaning of being human. The theology of literature investigates the literary interpretation of the origin and sense of existence, and holds literature to be a variant of the individual theological quest, namely an existential test for the Christian doctrine. The main collision between literature and Christianity (the traditional Western religion) is the justification of God in the context of evil. This paradox is investigated through theodicy, a philosophical and theological attempt to reconcile the traditional divine characteristics of omnibenevolence, omnipotence and omniscience with the occurrence of evil or suffering in the human world. The contradiction between the omnipotence of God and the evil that exists in the world is the main question concerning the existential experience of God, and a question that provokes literary thought. Literary theology (theological thought seen in literary works, a form of the so-called theology of experience) considers the paradox of God’s love and existential evil, and the possibilities for the justification of God in the face of innocent suffering. Many literary works, from Dante to contemporary literature, raise the theodic issue. The apexes of literary theodicy are works by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Brothers Karamazov, 1880) and Albert Camus (La Peste, 1947). Literary theodicy artistically points to the depth of the problem of innocent suffering.

Keywords


literature, Christianity, theology, theodicy

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13165/SMS-18-10-1-02

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236