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Vetekornets väg: Utblottelse hos Dostojevskij och i romanen Bröderna Karamazov
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology, Old and New Testament Exegesis.
2008 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The Path of a Grain of Wheat : The Idea of Self-Emptying in Dostoevsky and The Brothers Karamazov (English)
Abstract [en]

This study takes as its starting point John 12:24, the epigraph that Dostoevsky selected for The Brothers Karamazov. The verse is considered here as a pre-figurative model and symbol in Dostoevsky’s thought and authorship. More specifically, the notion of kenosis is argued to constitute a transfigured motif and a gloss for an imitatio ideal. One significant conclusion is that Dostoevsky’s Johannine influenced reception of the Bible helps shape Dostoevsky’s understanding of the kenosis motif. Characteristic of Johannine theology is that self-emptying is presented as a form of exaltation, as can be seen in the way Dostoevsky constructs plot lines, characterisations and symbolism in his novel. His rendering of the motif is studied chiefly against the background of two biblical traditions: the Christology of John’s Gospel and the Christology expressed in Philippians 2. The latter text influences Dostoevsky indirectly via certain traditions of biblical interpretation.

An introductory chapter on methodology and sources (chapter 1) is followed by an exegetical survey of kenosis in the New Testament and how it can serve as an analytical tool (2.1 and 2.2). The concept of kenosis in the light of specifically Johannine theology is then considered (2.3). Chapter 3 presents a survey of the history of these ideas in the context of theological developments in nineteenth-century Europe (3.1). An analysis then follows of kenosis Christologies in Protestantism (3.2), and how Russian Orthodoxy understood the self-emptied Christ and the ethical implications of this Christology (3.3). Included here is a critical discussion regarding the use of the concept of kenosis in research on Dostoevsky. Chapter 4 focuses on Dostoevsky as a person and examines Dostoevsky’s religious development (4.1), his practice of reading the Bible (4.2), and his exposure to contemporary research on the life of Jesus (4.3). Chapter 5 then examines polyphony, the idea, Carnival, and the “holy fool” in connection with the thought of Bakhtin (5.1), as a prelude to brief analyses of Crime and Punishment (5.2) and The Idiot (5.3). A close narrative reading of The Brothers Karamazov then follows in chapters 6 and 7, in which the idea of kenosis as seen in Johannine thought, and summarized in John 12:24, serves as the chief analytical tool. Chapter 8 offers a discussion of certain theological features related to “the path of the grain of wheat” in The Brothers Karamazov. The study concludes with a summary and two appendixes giving a biographical sketch of Dostoevsky’s life and a summary in English.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Bibelvetenskap , 2008. , 297 p.
Keyword [en]
Biblical studies, F M Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Brothers Karamazov, John 12:24, kenosis, imitatio Christi, transfigured motif, Gospel of John, Philippians 2, inter-symbolism, Reception History, Reception Criticism
Keyword [sv]
Research subject
New Testament Exegesis
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-8442ISBN: 978-91-7580-365-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-8442DiVA: diva2:171397
Public defence
2008-02-23, Room 9, University Main Building, Uppsala, 10:00
Available from: 2008-02-01 Created: 2008-02-01Bibliographically approved

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