The white line : Rowan Williams on time and tragedy

Delport, Khegan Marcel (2014-12)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In this study, I will be concerned with the viability of a tragic theology that is at the same time able to cohere with the standards of a classically orthodox Christian theology. My study will focus on a particular figure, namely Rowan Williams who, I will argue, exemplifies a blending together of these two concerns. However, as we shall see in this study, ‘tragic theology’ is by no means an uncontroversial affair since some argue that it implies heterodox conclusions in relation to God, creation, sin, etc. My aim is to counteract this claim that a classically orthodox theology cannot coexist with a tragic perspective. I will make the claim that tragic theology aims to emphasise the reality of contingency, conflict and suffering in relation to human life as seriously as possible, without effacing the difficulty it proposes to thought and the limits of human action, while at the same time holding onto the conviction that these beliefs can exist comfortably with an orthodox theological perspective. Through my study of Williams, which will largely follow a genealogical approach, I aim to show that Williams is able to emphasise this difficulty of tragedy, while at the same time believing in the fundamental goodness of creation, the possibility of transformation, hope and healing, as understood within a incarnationally-centred understanding of ‘the redemption of time’. Systematically speaking, I will attempt to arrange Williams’ understanding of tragedy according to four motifs which recur throughout his oeuvre, namely contingency, contemplation, compassion, and non-closure, all of which can be understood within the context of a classical Christian theology of God, salvation, and creaturely finitude.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Ek sal in hierdie studie ondersoek instel na die lewensvatbaarheid van 'n tragiese teologie wat terselfdertyd met die kriteria vir ‘n klassieke, ortodokse Christelike teologie belyn is. My studie fokus op 'n bepaalde figuur, te wete Rowan Williams, wat, – so argumenteer ek – hierdie twee aspekte op eksemplariese wyse aan die orde stel. Soos uit hierdie studies al blyk, is die begrip ‘tragiese teologie‘ geensins 'n onomstrede saak nie, aangesien sommige juis argumenteer dat dit afwykende beskouinge aangaande God, die skepping, die sonde, ensovoorts, impliseer. My doel in hierdie studie is om die standpunt uit te daag dat 'n klassieke, ortodokse teologie noodwendig teenoor `n tragiese perspektief gestel moet word. Ek wil juis argumenteer dat 'n tragiese teologie daarna streef om die werklikheid van kontingensie, konflik en lyding ernstig te neem, sonder om in die proses die uitdagings wat dit vir die proses van nadenke en vir die grense van menslike handeling inhou, op te hef. Terselfdertyd word die oortuiging gehuldig dat `n tragiese teologie‘ gemaklik met `n klassieke, ortodoksie teologiese persektief saamval. In die bestudering van Williams se werk, wat grootliks 'n genealogiese benadering volg, wys ek uit hoe Williams hierdie komplekse aspek van tragedie verreken, terwyl hy terselfdertyd aan die fundamentele goedheid van die skepping, asook aan die moontlikheid van transformasie, hoop en heling, vashou. Hierdie oortuiginge word binne die kader van `n inkarnasie-gesentreerde verstaan van die ‘verlossing van die tyd‘ geplaas. Sistematies beskou, sal ek poog om Williams se verstaan van tragedie volgens vier motiewe wat deurlopend in sy werk voorkom, te bespreek. Hierdie vier motiewe is onderskeidelik die motiewe van kontingensie, kontemplasie, medelye en nie-sluiting (of voortdurende openheid). Daar word geargumenteer dat al hierdie begrippe binne die konteks van `n klassieke Christelike teologiese raamwerk aangaande God, redding en eindigheid geplaas kan word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96120
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