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Title: The crucified God, the self reimagined : mapping the 'Death of God' motif in the philosophical anthropologies of Nietzsche and St Paul : a reappraisal of Friedrich Nietzsche's anti-Christianity with continual reference to Paul of Tarsus
Author: Duff, Joshua
ISNI:       0000 0004 9353 2574
Awarding Body: Bangor University
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis offers a thorough reappraisal of Friedrich Nietzsche’s anti-Christianity as a sustained confrontation with the philosophical anthropology embedded in St Paul’s gospel. Historically, studies at the intersection of Nietzsche and the Judaeo-Christian tradition have focused upon his critique of Christian morality. Where attention has been given to the Paul-Nietzsche relationship, Nietzsche’s psycho-historical portrait of Paul is examined, while the content of Paulinism is largely neglected, and important intertextual resonances, structural similarities, and parallel motifs have gone unexplored. This inattention to Paul’s voice has become increasingly transparent in recent decades with Continental Philosophy’s so-called, ‘return to Paul’, and renewed efforts within the Pauline studies guild to map Paul’s relationship to the larger Western Philosophical tradition. This renaissance has furnished new insights into Paul’s radical theology, cosmology, and anthropology, thus preparing the ground for a fresh re-examination of the Nietzsche-Paul relationship. This study provides just such an examination, offering philosophically and exegetically ‘thick’ readings of their rival accounts of what it means to be human, and the nature of the subject’s symbolic thought-world. I trace these rival programs through Paul and Nietzsche’s deployments of radical theological motifs—Paul’s Christ-event, and Nietzsche’s Death of God. These are universal events, which impact at the conjunction of anthropology and cosmology. They transvalue all symbolic social capital and reshape the existential geographies the self inhabits. For Paul, the Christ-event both deepened his anthropological pessimism, and broadened his eschatological hopefulness, for the Cross signalled the end of Sin’s unchecked hegemony in the flesh, and resolved the problem of the radical alterity between God and his morally-destitute image bearers. Furthermore, the kenotic nature of the Christ-event vilified egoism, calling for the death and re-creation of the self—I have been crucified together with Christ (Gal. 2.20), and the formation of egalitarian communities—There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3.28). For Nietzsche, the Death of God is the decisive end of this anti-natural programme—the end of the kenotic self-denial that ‘un-selfs man’, thus allowing for a restratification of society and the pathos of distance. This study represents the most thorough exploration of the Paul-Nietzsche relationship to date, making key original contributions to the study: 1. By examining Nietzsche’s agōn with Paulinism diachronically through Nietzsche’s biography, I demonstrate that a period of marked ambivalence towards the Christian tradition comes to a close with Nietzsche’s own ‘return to Paul’ in the summer of 1880, when he read Hermann Lüdemann’s, Die Anthropologie des Apostels Paulus. This event precisely marks the beginning of Nietzsche’s anti-Christian period, and the sudden appearance of some of his most important and distinctive ideas. 2. I go beyond previous studies by providing a reconstruction of Paul’s thought from both the Pauline corpus, and Nietzsche’s writings. This permits parallel ideas from Nietzsche’s oeuvre to be mapped onto Paulinism, and fills significant lacunae left by previous studies. The result is a larger and clearer context within which to understand why Nietzsche would finally locate his world-historical importance in his subversion of Christianity’s moral view of the self. 3. I contextualize enquiries into Nietzsche’s anti-Christianity over the course of more than a century of scholarship—from Salomé up to the present. I offer a fresh perspective on the question of Nietzsche as a religious thinker by locating Nietzsche alongside Paul where philosophical and religious enquiry into human nature converge. Indeed, Nietzsche embeds Christianity within the heart of the sweeping landscape of Western philosophy, blurring the lines between philosophy and religion.
Supervisor: Huskinson, Lucy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Friedrich Nietzsche ; St Paul ; Philosophical Anthropology ; Radical Theology ; Death of God ; Self ; Subject ; Symbolic World