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The Promised End: Eschatology in Theology and Literature (Challenges in Contemporary Theology) Paperback – 15 Sep 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons (15 Sept. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631220852
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631220855
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,308,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"As the field of literature and theology develops and becomes more sophisticated, so Fiddes is contributing at the cutting edge. His work is genuinely interdisciplinary, and his choice of texts is faultless. He initiates a learned and helpful dialogue with major theologians. I will certainly use this as a textbook in my teaching – it′s one I have been looking for, for some time, indeed." David Jasper, Dean of Divinity and Professor of Literature and Theology, Glasgow University

"This is a marvellous book which combines a variety of literatures, from the popular to the literary classics and new classics. That Fiddes can move so easily among these is impressive. Also impressive is his command of literary theory and theology, along with scientific theory. I recommend it with absolutely no reservations." Carolyn Jones Medine, Professor of Religious Studies and English, Louisiana State University

"This book on eschatology is almost certainly like no other you have read. Through its dialogue between theology and literature it uniquely stimulates theological reflection and offers resources for pastoral care and preaching. It is a remarkable, if sometimes demanding, book, and a rewarding and recommended read." Regent′s Reviews

"A highly specialized survey of contemporary theology, literature, and critical theory dealing with the perception of endings ... No student of theology or literature should overlook this book." First Things

"This book succeeds in finding fresh insights into eschatology at the interface of religion and literature and is a fine achievement. It is not always an easy book to read but is always a worthwhile one." The Baptist Ministers′ Journal

"In The Promised End, Fiddes offers a unique synthesis of interdisciplinary measures, offering theologically refreshing insights, on the end that is not so much perceived as promised. In the area where religion, literature and science often clash, Fiddes is remarkably clever at pointing out their potential for unification." Research News and Opportunities in Science and Theology

"Fiddes′ clarity regarding the theorists mentioned above, and his wide–ranging knowledge of theological studies are to be commended. However, the impressive aspect of his dialogue is the truly deep and profound grasp of the theological ideas that are shown to be lurking within the literary texts. One comes away with the sense that theological issues can be powerfully demonstrated in the context of literary works, and that even works which may not immediately seem "theological" are in fact pervaded by metaphysical concerns in ways we may not have clearly imagined." Religion and Literature

"It is fortunate that Fiddes′ literary judgements are as acute as his theological acumen, and for both we are much in his debt." Theology

From the Back Cover

This book brings Christian theology, creative literature and literary critical theory into dialogue on the theme of "the end". Where appropriate it also considers recent scientific views on the nature of time.

′Postmodern′ critical theorists and many other writers emphasize the ′open′ nature of endings, but this book suggests that the mixture of openness and closure in Christian eschatology not only offers a coherent sense of an ending, but may make it possible to construct endings in the here and now. On the way to this conclusion the book provides an exegesis of novels, plays and poems by such writers as John Fowles, Julian Barnes, Doris Lessing, Samuel Beckett, T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Shakespeare. Among critical theorists, postmodern and otherwise, it considers especially the ideas of Frank Kermode, Northrop Frye, Jacques Derrida and Paul Ricoeur.

The author also examines the main themes of Christian eschatology – such as death, parousia, resurrection, human destiny and the nature of eternity – and offers a critical view of the doctrines of the last things produced by major modern theologians, including Jürgen Moltmann and Wolfhart Pannenberg. Through this dialogue the book aims to form an image of the eternal ′wholeness′ of persons in the life of the triune God that takes seriously the deconstruction of images of domination.

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Format: Hardcover
Paul Fiddes demonstrates a rare ability to apply current theological thinking to contemporary literature. He reads Moltmann alongside T. S. Eliot, Paul Ricoeur with King Lear, Pannenberg for Martin Amis. He engages both sympathetically and critically with key writers in theology, philosophy, literary criticism and literature, in lucid prose which puts some of them to shame. Fiddes explores two premises. The first is that Christianity must be eschatologically oriented (thank you, Barth). The second is that literary endeavour (both the creative act and the creation itself) has an abiding interest in eschatological questions. Death, the direction of time, the shape of history, the immortality of the soul, and the strength of human hope are pervasive themes in literature and theology. Fiddes lets these two premises read each other, with a bias towards the theological (which I believe is valid, especially coming from an Oxford Professor of Theology) without undermining the importance of the literature. This sophisticated and satisfying work will ensure that the interest in the 'sense of an Ending' (Frank Kermode's phrase) in the fields of theology and literature survives long beyond the publishing exigency that is the new millennium. It represents one of the best efforts so far from a growing number of scholars who are seeing that eschatology provides a more comprehensive way of understanding human creativity than do a range of other doctrines (including the doctrine of creation itself). Recommended for anyone working out how to think theologically about the arts.
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