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Kierkegaard and Practical Theology:
Theologizing the Discipline

KNOX, JENNIFER,REBEKAH (2023) Kierkegaard and Practical Theology:
Theologizing the Discipline.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

Full text not available from this repository.
Author-imposed embargo until 16 November 2026.


This thesis provides an analysis of Kierkegaard’s latter pseudonymous works and the way they can be used to theologize practical theology. It analyzes four pseudonymous works of Kierkegaard in detail: Philosophical Fragments, Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Fragments, Sickness Unto Death, and Practice in Christianity, arguing that this last is the hermeneutical key to the prior three texts. I trace the development of seven themes through the four works: paradox, offense/the possibility of offense, inwardness, suffering (as a Christian), sin, actuality, and being an imitator versus an admirer. Practice in Christianity brings all these themes to their apex and in so doing articulates a Kierkegaardian idea of what it means to practice Christianity. After reviewing the development of practical theology, focusing on its core themes and values, I argue that practical theology is not theological—it does not keep a focus on God and does not have prescriptive conclusions. I then apply Kierkegaardian concepts to the discipline. Kierkegaard shares much with practical theology, namely a rejection of metaphysics, an emphasis on subjectivity/the subject, a use of (Socratic) dialectics, the centrality of paradox, and the idea that faith must be lived and practiced. The discipline already evidences Kierkegaardian positions, so using him to critique the ways practical theology fails to be theological is a natural progression. Kierkegaard offers a corrective to the discipline because he keeps both the divine and immanent in view, rejects exclusive dependence on empiricism, values Socrates over Aristotle, and does not think that Christianity must be palatable and acceptable in the academy. If Kierkegaard’s thought in these areas were adopted into the discipline of practical theology, the discipline would be theologized, increasing an emphasis on and awareness of the divine and leading towards scholars drawing prescriptive conclusions.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Kierkegaard; practical theology; paradox; Anti-Climacus; Johannes Climacus
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 Nov 2023 18:26

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