The Bible in Western Literature

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The Bible in Western Literature

  • The Bible is one of the main (side by side with Antiquity) intertexts of Western (European and American) mentality.
  • Antiquity (antiquus – ancient): the world of ancient Greeks and Romans: 1250 BC – 476 AD (until the fall of the Roman Empire).
  • The Bible – the monument of Hebrew culture, written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek: XVI th century BC – II nd century AD.
  • The Bible – an anthology of the ancient Near East literature. Some books – literary masterpieces: Psalms, The Song of Solomon, The book of Job etc.
  • The Bible – a cultural text (a literary work) and (for Christianity, Judaism, Islam) – revelation (having both divine and human authority).
  • The Western culture is influenced by the Christian Bible. The Bible is the center of Christianity, the main source of Christian revelation.

The Bible: the canon

  • The Bible – „books“ (gr. ta biblia) – 27 books of the New Testament and 46 (the Catholic canon) or 39 (the Protestant canon) books of the Old testament.
  • Deuterocanonical books – books included in the Septuagint (250 – 150 BC) and the Vulgate (saint Hieronymus translated the Bible from Hebrew and Aramaic into Latin, 382 – 405 AD), but excluded from the Jewish and the Protestant canons of the Old Testament.
  • The canon: the term was coined in the context of debates about authenticity and originality of the biblical books. Kerygma, proclamation (vs. apocryphal dubious authority writings).
  • Canon in literary criticism: literary value.

The Bible: the internet source

  • The Bible: The Old Testament, The New Testament: Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition:

The Bible: The Old Testament

  • Torah (Law) – (hebr. Torah) – XVI th – XII th centuries BC:
  • Genesis – Pradžios knyga
  • Exodus – Išėjimo knyga
  • Leviticus – Kunigų (Levitų) knyga
  • Numbers – Skaičių knyga
  • Deuteronomy – Pakartoto Įstatymo knyga

The Bible: The Old Testament

  • Historical Books – VII th – I st centuries BC:
  • Joshua – Jozuės knyga
  • Judges – Teisėjų knyga
  • Ruth – Rutos knyga
  • The First and the Second Books of Samuel – Pirmoji ir antroji Samuelio knygos
  • The First and the Second Books of Kings – Pirmoji ir antroji Karalių knygos
  • The First and the Second Books of the Chronicles – Pirmoji ir antroji Kronikų knygos

The Bible: The Old Testament

  • Ezra – Ezdro knyga
  • Nehemiah – Nehemijo knyga
  • Tobit – Tobijo knyga (apocryphal book / deuterocanonical book)
  • Judith – Juditos knyga (apocryphal book / deuterocanonical book)
  • Ester – Esteros knyga
  • The First Book of the Maccabees – Pirmoji Makabiejų knyga (apocryphal book / deuterocanonical book)
  • The Second Book of the Maccabees – Antroji Makabiejų knyga (apocryphal book / deuterocanonical book)

The Bible: The Old Testament

  • The Wisdom Books – X th – VI th centuries BC:
  • Job – Jobo knyga
  • The Psalms – Psalmynas
  • Proverbs – Patarlių knyga
  • Ecclesiastes – Koheleto knyga
  • The Song of Songs (The Song of Solomon) – Giesmių giesmė
  • The Wisdom of Solomon – Išminties knyga (apocryphal book / deuterocanonical book)
  • Sirach – Siracido knyga (apocryphal book / deuterocanonical book)

The Bible: The Old Testament

  • Prophets – VIII th – V th centuries BC:
  • Isaiah – Izaijo knyga
  • Jeremiah – Jeremijo knyga
  • The Lamentations of Jeremiah – Raudų knyga
  • Baruch – Barucho knyga (apocryphal book / deuterocanonical book)
  • Ezekiel – Ezekielio knyga
  • Daniel – Danieliaus knyga
  • Hosea – Ozėjo knyga
  • Joel – Joelio knyga
  • Amos – Amoso knyga

The Bible: The Old Testament

  • Obadiah – Abdijo knyga
  • Jonah – Jonos knyga
  • Micah – Michėjo knyga
  • Nahum – Nahumo knyga
  • Habakkuk – Habakuko knyga
  • Zephaniah – Sofonijo knyga
  • Haggai – Agėjo knyga
  • Zechariah – Zacharijo knyga
  • Malachi – Malachijo knyga

The Bible: The New Testament

  • The New Testament (I st – II nd centuries AD):
  • 27 Christian books writen in the I st century's Greek:
  • 4 books of the Gospel (The Gospel According to Matthew, The Gospel According to Mark, The Gospel According to Luke, The Gospel According to John)
  • Acts of the Apostles (telling about the first 30 years of the Christian Church)
  • 13 letters of the Apostle Paul
  • 8 letters of other apostles
  • The Revelation to John (The Apocalypse)

The Bible: narrative

  • The main principles of the Bible's narrative structure:
  • The U-form meganarrative structure: the standard shape of comedy as having “good ending” (thus Northrop Frye calls the Bible “divine comedy”, imitated by Dante).

The Bible: narrative

  • Paradise – Paradise lost
  • Promised land (pastoral) – Egypt (XIII th century BC)
  • Promised land (agrarian) – Philistines (occupation)
  • Jerusalem (Zion) – Babilon (VI th century BC)
  • [Giuseppe Verdi's opera Nabucco (1842), „Choir of slaves“:
  • Psalms 137, 1–4: „By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept […]. For there our captors required of us songs […] saying, „Sing us one of the songs of Zion!“ How shall we sing the LORD's song in a foreign land?“]
  • temple rebuilded – Greek occupation
  • temple depurated – Roman occupation
  • spiritual Kingdom...

The Bible: history

  • History as a form of revelation (from Abraham to Jesus Christ).
  • The notion of the historical in the Bible.

The Bible: The main principles of biblical imagery structure

  • Divine and demonic images: ideal (supernatural) and “lower” world (the world of suffering, death and hell).
  • Ideal world: mountain, tower, fire of life, water of life, promised land, way of life, apocalyptic woman...
  • The world of death and demons: ashes, grass, track, shadow, exile, slavery, pit, water of death, fire of death, way of death, Babel, Sodom/Gomorrah, snake...
  • The dichotomy between divine and demonic images: water of life / water of death, tree of life / tree of death; fire of life / fire of death; the apocalyptic woman / the witch...
  • The boundaries between good and bad: Isaiah: „Woe to those who call evil good and good evil” (Iz 5, 20).

The Bible: main features of the biblical God

  • God is mysterious.
  • God seeks for the personal contact with every human being.
  • Russian critic Sergej Averincev: “The morality of New Testament declares not abstract truths but (unlike stoicism that was popular in the same epoch) a personal authority with whom one must be connected by purely personal relationship”.
  • Kenosis (Phil 2, 7: Jesus is said to have “emptied himself“).

The Bible: time

  • The biblical time:
  • linear, not cyclic (vs. Antiquity)

The Bible: meaning: kerygma

  • Kerygma:
  • the biblical proclamation, its revelational meaning.
  • Philological investigations:
  • Erich Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature
  • Northrop Frye, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature

Erich Auerbach: the biblical mingling of styles

  • There are some interesting philological concepts of kerygma. Erich Auerbach (1892–1957) drew our attention to the mingling of styles in the Bible: the story about Christ would not fit into any of the known ancient genres. Sermo humilis – the low style – goes beyond comedy and satire and gets profound seriousness.

Erich Auerbach: the biblical mingling of styles

  • The sublime influence of God reaches so deeply into the everyday that the two realms of the sublime and the everyday are not only actually unseparated but basically inseparable.

Erich Auerbach: the biblical mingling of styles

  • According to E. Auerbach, biblical writers were not able to differ ancient genres because of the general vertical connection that is seen in the biblical message. Biblical writers try to tell what they have seen and heard, – their concern is kerygma, not style, – and they destroy stylistic dichotomy and create new literary form without even knowing about it themselves.

Northrop Frye, The Great Code

  • Northrop Frye (1912–1991; The Great Code, 1981; Words with Power, 1990) described the biblical kerygma in the context of the language philosophy, while interpreting the secular language theory of Giambattista Vico (1668–1744), Italian philosopher, jurist and rhetoricist.

Northrop Frye, The Great Code

  • Three historical types of language named by G. Vico (the poetic, the heroic or noble, and the vulgar, produced by three ages: mythical, heroic and an age of the people) N. Frye links respectively with metaphorical, metonymic and descriptive language.

Northrop Frye, The Great Code

  • While studying language as positive linguistic force (French langage), that makes it possible to express similar things in different languages (French langues), N. Frye holds that metaphorical language belongs to syncretic experience of the world, metonymic – to analogical thinking (verbal analogies denote transcendent order and monotheistic God), and descriptive language belongs to sense experience of nature as the only presupposed criterion of reality.

Northrop Frye, The Great Code

  • The biblical language has some aspects of metaphorical (poetic) and metonymic (conceptual) language, however it is impossible to assign the biblical language to any type of secular languages. The Bible is the rhetoric of God, accommodated to human intelligence and coming through human agents. It is a fourth type of language – kerygma. Northrop Frye stresses that kerygma is not a form of secular rhetoric (not simply an argument disguised by figuration), it is revelation – the conveying of information from a divine source to a human receptor.

Northrop Frye, The Great Code

  • Biblical language conveys a vision of spiritual life that continues to transform and expand our own; biblical narrative and metaphors are intended to be lived by and in them; thus they differ from purely literary narratives and metaphors. This transforming power is called kerygma.

Kerygma: philological studies

  • Recent philological study of the Bible shows its boundary between literary and revelational meanings to be very problematic. According to Robert Alter, important formal aspects of biblical literary technique (such as allusion, repetition, ellipsis, dialogue....) underground an integrity of the Bible as literary text. However, those texts that biblical writers constantly remember, reinvent, elaborate, transform or parody, are the texts that form an ideology of religious community (their images, idioms, models, narratives are related to the consensus of shared values and concepts), – thus biblical allusions travel insensibly from literary dimension to theological, legislative, historiographic and moral dimensions.

Kerygma: philological studies

  • There is no real difference in the Bible between literary meaning and religious allegories. The Bible confirms our doubts about the strictness of distinction between prose and poetry, fiction and non-fiction, but it obviously negates the hypothesis of Roland Barthes about the zero degree of meaning: it is impossible for a biblical text to mean nothing but itself.
  • Paul Ricoeur notes that biblical interpretation enters the hermeneutic circle: „to understand, it is necessary to believe, to believe, it is necessary to understand“. In the Bible constantly coexist both its aspects – cultural and revelational.

The Bible: meaning

  • Biblical typology.
  • The christocentrism of the Bible. The deepest, centripetal meaning of the Bible is Jesus Christ (the Bible and the person of Christ being called by the same name).
  • The centrifugal (historical, cultural) meaning of the Bible.
  • The 4 meanings of the Bible:
  • Littera gesta docent, quid credas allegoria,
  • Moralis quid agas, quo tendas anagogia.

Erich Auerbach, the two styles (the Bible and Antiquity)

  • The two styles, in their opposition, represent basic types.
  • Antiquity: fully externalized description,
  • uniform illumination,
  • uninterrupted connection,
  • free expression,
  • all events in the foreground,
  • displaying unmistakable meanings,
  • few elements of historical development and of psychological perspective.

Erich Auerbach, the two styles (the Bible and Antiquity)

  • The Bible: certain parts brought into high relief, others left obscure,
  • abruptness,
  • suggestive influence of the unexpressed,
  • “background” quality,
  • multiplicity of meanings and the need for interpretation,
  • universal-historical claims, development of the concept of the historically becoming, and pre occupation with the problematic.

The Bible and literature

  • The Bible inspirers culture and literature both as cultural and kerygmatic text. Poetic value of different biblical books is not uniform. Literary masterpieces are Psalms, Song of Songs, Book of Job, Book of Wisdom. They have influenced Western literature through centuries not only provoking the dialogue, not only being a source for interpretation, but also modelling stylistic forms and teaching „how“ to write.
  • It is interesting that considerable part of this aesthetically most impressive biblical literature is dated from post-exilic period, when Israel lost its hope about powerful theocratic state: „speculative wisdom attempted to make sense of the world when nothing seemed to make any sense“ (James M. Efird).

The Bible and literature: 3 forms of the dialogue

  • Literary illustrations (theocentered treatments) or interpretations (anthropocentered / egocentered treatments) either imitate the Bible or transform or deform it.
  • Literature imitates the Bible by preserving its imagery/narrative structure and meanings, including the kerygmatic meaning.
  • This usage links the term imitation with Aristotle's (rather than with Plato's) term mimesis. Aristotle extended use of the term mimesis in his Poetics to include not just characters' speech but also author's imitative actions, and these can be not illustrative only, but interpretative also. D. W. Lucas notes that the word mimesis has an extraordinary breadth of meaning and he suggest to translate it using such words as „imitate“, „indicate“, „express“: all these words are related to artistic action.
  • Those imitations of the Bible that have high artistic value usually are of strongly intentional and interpretative character.
  • Literary transformation of the Bible.
  • Literary deformation of the Bible.

The Bible and literature: the dialogue

  • How does literature treat the structure of biblical imagery and narrative: the dichotomy between divine and demonic images, biblical typology, the U-shape of narrative (the standard shape of comedy, metaphysical hope)?

Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

  • Dante Alighieri's poem The Divine Comedy (1307–1321)
  • Dante's Comedy (created 1307–1321), named Divine by its readers. One of the most important European literary works.
  • Erich Auerbach, Mimesis: the cosmological, ethical, historical-political structure of the world. All realms of reality are being enlightened: the past and the future, virture and sin, history and legend, the tragic and the comic, the story of individual redemption, the story of the redemption of the whole humanity.

The divine Comedy

  • The Divine Comedy as the theological and poetic vision of human existence.
  • Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274): Aristotle (384–322 BC) and saint Augustine (354–430).
  • Spiritual and intelectual adventure of Dante, who represents the whole humanity. Travel – an alegory. 3 forms of postmorten, eternal world: Hell, Purgatory, Paradise.
  • Erich Auerbach: the inhabitants of this postmorten, eternal world can't leave their places. (Vs. human freedom before death).
  • The poem of symbols and allegories.


  • „Prologue“: the structural basement of the poem.
  • The quest of a Christian of Middle Ages, his search for truth.
  • Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
  • mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
  • ché la diritta via era smarrita.
  • Ahi quanto a dir qual era è cosa dura
  • esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte
  • che nel pensier rinova la paura!


  • Translated by Allen Mandelbaum in 1980–1984:
  • When I had journeyed half of our life’s way,
  • I found myself within a shadowed forest,
  • for I had lost the path that does not stray.
  • Ah, it is hard to speak of what it was,
  • that savage forest, dense and difficult,
  • which even in recall renews my fear...
  • Nostra vita: Dante is one of many, representing all Christians. The main character (Dante) is an allegorical figure, as well as his journey.


  • Translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1867:
  • Midway upon the journey of our life
  • I found myself within a forest dark,
  • For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
  • Ah me! how hard a thing it is to say
  • What was this forest savage, rough, and stern,
  • Which in the very thought renews the fear.
  • La diritta via: a way to salvation: „I am the way and the truth and the life“ (John 14, 6).

The motif of sleep

  • Io non so ben ridir com’ i’ v’intrai,
  • tant’ era pien di sonno a quel punto
  • che la verace via abbandonai.
  • I cannot clearly say how I had entered
  • the wood; I was so full of sleep just at
  • the point where I abandoned the true path (Mandelbaum).
  • I cannot well repeat how there I entered,
  • So full was I of slumber at the moment
  • In which I had abandoned the true way (Longfellow).


  • The genre. Visions in verses. Vision in Middle Ages: spiritual rebirth.
  • Visions of the poem:
  • castle
  • forest in the Hell, forest of spirits (IV th, XIII th songs)
  • rain of plague (VI th song)
  • mysterious tower (VIII th song)...

Gustave Dore, vision: forest of spirits


  • Many artists have attempted to illustrate Dante Alighieri's epic poem the Divine Comedy, but none have made such an indelible stamp on our collective imagination as the Frenchman Gustave Dore (1832–1883).

Symbolic, allegorical colors, figures

  • Allegorical meaning of numbers.
  • 3 parts (the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit)
  • 33 songs in each part
  • + „Prologue“ = 100 songs (10 commands of the Decalogue).
  • Hell: 9 levels and the Limb („entryway“). The form of cone. The lowest level is in the center of Earth.


  • Style: the mixture of high and folk styles (compare the biblical style).


  • The Limb, IV th song:
  • That valley, dark and deep and filled with mist, is such that, though I gazed into its pit, I was unable to discern a thing.
  • “Let us descend into the blind world now,” the poet, who was deathly pale, began; “I shall go first and you will follow me.”
  • But I, who’d seen the change in his complexion, said: “How shall I go on if you are frightened, you who have always helped dispel my doubts?”


  • And he to me: “The anguish of the people whose place is here below, has touched my face with the compassion you mistake for fear.
  • Let us go on, the way that waits is long.” So he set out, and so he had me enter on that first circle girdling the abyss.
  • Here, for as much as hearing could discover, there was no outcry louder than the sighs that caused the everlasting air to tremble.


  • And if they lived before Christianity, they did not worship God in fitting ways; and of such spirits I myself am one […]
  • We reached the base of an exalted castle, encircled seven times by towering walls, defended all around by a fair stream (Mandelbaum).
  • Virgil (70–19 BC), ancient Rome.
  • Ancient Greece: Aristotle (IV th century BC), Plato (V–IV centuries BC), Socrates (V th century BC).


  • The sighs arose from sorrow without torments, out of the crowds – the many multitudes –
  • of infants and of women and of men.
  • The kindly master said: “Do you not ask who are these spirits whom you see before you? I’d have you know, before you go ahead,
  • they did not sin; and yet, though they have merits, that’s not enough, because they lacked baptism, the portal of the faith that you embrace.

Narrative: U-form: down to the Hell and up: Purgatory, Paradise:

  • Virgil:
  • Therefore, I think and judge it best for you
  • to follow me, and I shall guide you, taking
  • you from this place through an eternal place,
  • where you shall hear the howls of desperation
  • and see the ancient spirits in their pain,
  • as each of them laments his second death;

Narrative: U-form: down to the Hell and up: Purgatory, Paradise:

  • and you shall see those souls who are content
  • within the fire, for they hope to reach –
  • whenever that may be-the blessed people.
  • If you would then ascend as high as these,
  • a soul more worthy than I am will guide you;
  • I’ll leave you in her care when I depart... (Mandelbaum)
  • Beatrice.

4 biblical meanings: Littera gesta docent, quid credas allegoria, Moralis quid agas, quo tendas anagogia.

  • Literal meaning – historical-political: meaning.Dante, like most Florentines of his day, took part in the Guelph – Ghibeline conglict. Dante's family had loyalties to the Guelphs, a political alliance that supported the Papacy and which was involved in complex opposition to the Ghibellines, who were backed by the Holy Roman Emperor. The Guelphs won the conflict and splited into two parts: The White Guelphs and The Black Guelfs. Dante belonged to The White Guelphs. The Black Guelphs, supported by Pope Boniface VIII, won, Dante was exiled from Florence. Popes: Inferno, VIII song.

Typological, allegorical meaning (quid credas allegoria):

  • The return of the sinful humanity to the road of salvation.
  • Dante travels from sins (forest) through human mind and wisdom (Virgil) to virtuous, righteous soul: to earthly and eternal happiness.
  • The biblical notion of the human history: the human history it is linked to the history of salvation in its every moment, not just teleologicly.

Moral meaning

  • The author tries to encourage his readers to seek for good, to avoid evil in case to reach the eternal happiness.
  • Hell, 9 levels – according to the intensity of evil will.
  • Purgatory, 9 levels – according to bad inclinations of the souls.
  • Paradise, 9 levels – according to the intensity of experiencing God.
  • Ethical principles: Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274): Aristotle (384–322 BC).

Hell, III song:


V song, second level: Franceska, Paolo

  • Then I addressed my speech again to them, and I began: “Francesca, your afflictions move me to tears of sorrow and of pity.
  • But tell me, in the time of gentle sighs, with what and in what way did Love allow you to recognize your still uncertain longings?”
  • And she to me: “There is no greater sorrow than thinking back upon a happy time in misery—and this your teacher knows.
  • Yet if you long so much to understand the first root of our love, then I shall tell my tale to you as one who weeps and speaks.
  • One day, to pass the time away, we read of Lancelot—how love had overcome him. We were alone, and we suspected nothing.

Gustave Dore (1832–1883)

V song, second level: Franceska, Paolo

  • And time and time again that reading led our eyes to meet, and made our faces pale, and yet one point alone defeated us.
  • When we had read how the desired smile was kissed by one who was so true a lover, this one, who never shall be parted from me,
  • while all his body trembled, kissed my mouth. A Gallehault indeed, that book and he who wrote it, too; that day we read no more.”
  • And while one spirit said these words to me, the other wept, so that—because of pity— I fainted, as if I had met my death.
  • And then I fell as a dead body falls. (Mandelbaum)

Near the gates – lukewarm hearts:

  • And he to me: This miserable way is taken by the sorry souls of those who lived without disgrace and without praise.
  • They now commingle with the coward angels, the company of those who were not rebels nor faithful to their God, but stood apart.
  • The heavens, that their beauty not be lessened, have cast them out, nor will deep Hell receive them – even the wicked cannot glory in them“. (Mandelbaum)

Hell: levels

  • The third level – gluttons: rain, snow.
  • The fourth level – misers (Scrooge) – rolling large stones.
  • The fifth level – curmudgeons – Styx (Greek mytlology)
  • The sixth level – infidels, cemetery, burning tombs
  • The seventh level – violators (including suicides)
  • The ninth level – traitors. Lucifer.


  • .

Anagogical meaning

  • Vertical connection.

The biblical archetypes in literary works. The Bible as „the great code of art” (Northrop Frye). Archetypal criticism (C. G. Jung)

  • Carl Gustav Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychologist (1875–1961).
  • Sigmund Freud, Austrian (Jewish origin) neurologist and psychoanalytic (1856–1939).
  • Sigmund Freud – personal difficulties, C. G. Jung – perfection. Philosophical materialism vs. the philosophical accent of Spirit.
  • Freud: spirituality – „sublimation“. Jung: „spirit – not material“, – fundamental difference.
  • The past. Freud: cause. Jung: not „product of the past“, but culmination of the history of the whole human race. The significance of interpretation.

C. G. Jung

  • Vision of sense of fulfilment.
  • Emphasis: second half of the life-span. The idea of development of personality. High self-complexity. Self-concepts.
  • Extravert – intravert, thinking or feeling type. „Opposites attract“ (C. G. Jung).
  • Searching of the roots. Especially – cultural roots.

C. G. Jung: Unconscious

  • Unconscious: C. G. Jung emphasizes even more than S. Freud. Difference: the personal unconscious – only the part of the unconscious. Deeper and more profound part – the collective unconscious.
  • C. G. Jung about the unconscious: „owning to its immeasurable experience, an incomparable prognosticator“ (The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, Princeton, 1960).
  • Specie's memory: archetypes. Universal form of characterizing thought, feelings. People create images, visions, that correspond to unconscious experiences.
  • Dreams, myhs, fables. art.

C. G. Jung: the spirit, primitive phenomena

  • Primitive – modern: not racionality, but the reception of the world. Modern: natural and perceivable causes (available to the senses). C. G. Jung: many things we can't explain. Primitive man expects more than explanation. Chance vs. Power: „Magic is the sign of the jungle“.
  • Artists, poets, children... Magic, inearthable: „More in touch with reality that we have lost“.

The Virgin and Child with St. Anne, Leonardo da Vinci (1503)

  • S. Freud: repressed desires.
  • C. G. Jung: 2 mothers in myths:
  • Heracles: Hera and earthly mother Alkmena
  • Achilles: Tetide, goddess of sea (Styx, heel...)
  • Moses (XIII–XII centuries BC), Egipt Pharaoh's daughter, the river of Nile, – Decalogue

Archetype: gr. archi and typos, „first stamp“.

  • Universal archetypes: Carl Gustav Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, New York: Pantheon, 1959:
  • Persona (social mask);
  • Anima (tenderness, sensibility);
  • Animus (aggressiveness, goal-directness...; symbolically animus – a part of herself: father, husband);
  • Shadow (Sigmund Freud – id; original sin, devil, Evil);
  • Birth; Death; Rebirth; Power; Magic;
  • Child; Hero; Old man, Old woman
  • Yin / Yang (Chinese symbol of oppositions)
  • Unity / self; God, deity

C. G. Jung, individuation

  • C. G. Jung, the theory of individuation: harmonious relationship with the archetypical symbols (Psychological reflections, 1953).
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, „Young Goodman Brown“ (1835).


  • Etymologicly considered theodicy (theos + dike, God + justice) signifies the justification of God in the context of evil.
  • Theodicy is in the very center of the philosophical attempt to consider the possibility of God's existence, the possibility of theism. Theodicy is the link between philosophy and theology.

Theodicy in Christianity

  • The problem of theodicy is especially sharp in Christianity. Every religion is the conception of the sense of being. Such a sence may be perceived as nature, progress, love, spirituality and so on. For Christianity the sense of being is the personal divine love, Jesus Christ. Thus for Christianity to raise the theodic problem means not just to ask about an abstract possibility of God's existence, – but about the possibility to trust in Jesus Christ as in the personal „You“.

Theodicy in Christianity

  • Christianity treats the theodic problem in several ways. One of the most important theodic arguments is the notion of free will. According to Immanuel Kant, if we were able to prove the existence of God, the moral law wouldn't be broken anymore. However, most of the actions that conformed to the law would be done from fear, a few only from hope, and none at all from duty, and the moral worth of actions, on which alone in the eyes of supreme wisdom the worth of the person and even that of the world depends, would cease to exist” (Critique of Practical Reason, 1788). In his essay Оn the Failure of All Attempted Philosophical Theodicies (1791) I. Kant declares that evil is a personal challenge to a human being. According to I. Kant, this challenge may be confronted only by belief, as those things that we can't experience we may reflect just in a limited way.
  • For Christianity the main theodic arguments are the theological mysteries of incarnation and resurection, Jesus Christ's personal response to the problem of evil and death.

Literary theodicy

  • The philosophical and theological thought seen in the Western literature also perceives the problem of evil as the main problem of God's existence.
  • One of the most significant texts of literary theodicy is the philosophical novel of Fiodor Dostojevsky (1821–1881) Brothers Karamazov (1880).
  • Albert Camus' (1913–1960) novel The Plague (La peste, 1947).

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