Fortunate Fallibility: Kierkegaard and the Power of Sin

ISBN : 9780199790661

Jason A. Mahn
288 Pages
172 x 240 mm
Pub date
Jul 2011
AAR Reflection and Theory in the Study of Religion
Send mail

For more than 1,500 years, the claim that Adam's Fall might be considered 'fortunate' has been Christianity's most controversial and difficult idea. While keepers of the Easter vigil in the fifth century (and later John Milton) praised sin only as a backhanded witness to the ineffability of redemption, modern speculative theodicy came to understand all evil as comprehensible, historically productive, and therefore fortunate, while the romantic poets credited transgression with bolstering individual creativity and spirit. Jason Mahn's compelling study examines Kierkegaard's "para/orthodixical" language of human fallibility and Christian sin. Mahn breaks down and reconstructs the concept of the fortunate Fall in Western thought, in context of Kierkegaard's later writings, examining Kierkegaard's blunt critique of Idealism's justification of evil, as well as his playful deconstruction of romantic celebrations of sin. Mahn also argues, though, that Kierkegaard resists the moralization of evil, preferring to consider temptation and sin as determinative dimensions of religious existence. In relation to the assumed "innocence" of Christendom's cultured Christians, the self-conscious sinner might be the better religious witness. Although Mahn shows how Kierkegaard finally replaces actual sin with human fragility, temptation, and the possibility of spiritual offense as that which "happily" shapes religious faith, he cogently argues that Kierkegaard's understanding of "fortunate fallibility" is at least as rhetorically compelling and theologically operative as talk of a fortunate Fall. Mahn's insights into Kierkegaard's playful maneuvers encourages Christian theologians can speak of sin more particularly and peculiarly than in the typical discourses of church and culture.


Introduction: Fault and Fallibility
Chapter 1: Figuring a Fortunate Fall
Chapter 2: Felix Fragilitas in The Concept of Anxiety
Chapter 3: Felix Fallibilitas in The Sickness unto Death
Chapter 4: Felix Offensatio in Practice in Christianity
Chapter 5: Felicitas: Between Cross and Resurrection
Postscript: Christian Para/Orthodoxy: Toward a Postmodern Hamartiology

About the author: 

Assistant Professor of Religion, Augustana College

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.