To become transfigured : reconstructing Søren Kierkegaard's Christological anthropology.


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Examinations of Kierkegaard's anthropology have largely overlooked the deeply Christological dimension of his anthropology, especially as developed in his narrations of the human's relation to Christ in the late theological discourses. Current treatments of Kierkegaard's anthropology fall into two broad categories: (1) If a theological dimension is recognized, it is only the vaguely theistic notion of "before God"; or, (2) an a-theological philosophy of the self is extracted from Kierkegaard's works. These approaches distort Kierkegaard's anthropology by either relativizing the role of Christ, or eliding Christ altogether. Kierkegaard insists, however, that the human being can only become a self (properly speaking) in the peculiarly Christian dialectic of existence initiated by Christ, who is both the human exemplar and the divine redeemer who vicariously atones and forgives. Therefore, my goal is to provide a much-needed reconstruction of Kierkegaard's highly contextualized Christological anthropology. In short, I contend that when we add the oft-overlooked voice of the late theological works, a clearer, more robust understanding of Kierkegaard's polyphonous anthropology emerges—an anthropology best characterized as Christological. Thus, my reconstruction includes: (1) establishing the basic contours and terminology of Kierkegaard's anthropology; (2) contextualizing Kierkegaard's polemically-conditioned anthropological writings, and illuminating his critical appropriation of select idealist and Romantic anthropological categories pervasive in nineteenth-century Copenhagen; and (3) analyzing the ways in which Christ and Christology eventually come to condition and determine Kierkegaard's anthropology. The reconstruction proceeds by showing that Kierkegaard's late anthropological writings are a logical development of his earliest philosophical and theological intuitions about human existence. Thus, despite shifts and developments in Kierkegaard's thought, a coherence within the development of Kierkegaard's anthropology is also evident, a traceable trajectory from the earliest writings to the latest. Put another way, while Christ figures absolutely decisively in Kierkegaard's anthropology, there remains a sense in which the parameters of the issue are still dictated by Kierkegaard's polemical engagements with then-current anthropological ideas and concerns. My reconstruction complete, I end the dissertation with a brief assessment of Kierkegaard's Christological (yet deeply contextualized) anthropology.



Kierkegaard. Theological anthropology. Christology.