Saturday, May 4, 2013

Kierkegaard's Bicentennial OR May the Fifth see you put down Lucas and pick up the great Dane

A friend asked me the other day how best to observe the 200th anniversary of Kierkegaard's birth on May 5, 2013, and my reply was to refer him to the "The Lily of the Field and the Bird of the Air: Three Devotional Discourses." These can be found in Vol. XVIII of Kierkegaard's Writings, entitled Without Authority.

The text (Matthew 6) was a source of endless inspiration for Kierkegaard. So the first series of Christian Discourses, KW, Vol. XVII, is also to be enthusiastically recommended: 

More generally, if you want to know: Will the real Kierkegaard please stand up?  ... the discourses of his second (post-1846) authorship (Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Works of Love, For Self-Examination, Judge For Yourself, etc.), along with his (also late) higher pseudonymous works (Practice in Christianity, and Sickness Unto Death) are by far his most important works. 


And if you don't believe me, read his autobiographical explanation of his authorial/publication strategy in Point of View, and the highly revealing, if not prophetic, footnote, in which he expresses his (necessarily postponed) desire to write on the distinction between Socrates and Jesus Christ, in The Concept of Irony.


The point is simply, as I argued in my dissertation, don't get bedazzled by the early pseudonymous (primarily Socratic) works that have become for so many readers and for most of Kierkegaard scholarship, a sort of philosophical cul-de-sac. Read instead what he wrote when he resolved to pick up his pen once again in order to try and "win men, if possible," (and women, too, of course — many of his most avid readers were women) to Christian faith.

Meanwhile, in the interest of avoiding a similar beguilement, see Chapter 2 in my Groans of the Spirit (not my dissertation, but consisting of some dissertation outtakes) in which I argue by way of a discussion of Kierkegaard and Gadamer for giving pneumatology the priority over hermeneutics in any discussion of biblical interpretation for preaching.

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