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date: 15 August 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter traces the development of theological and philosophical reflection on the phenomenon of suffering in the modern European era. It identifies a shift from theory to practice in the latter part of the twentieth century, indicating a growing impatience with the search for abstract explanations of suffering, and a new stress on the practical issues of how to cope with it. In Christian theology, this shift has been marked by an increasing interest in the relevance of the crucifixion of Jesus for the problems of human suffering, rather than for traditional doctrines of atonement, and this in turn has led back to a kind of theodicy, though with a more practical weight than earlier attempts. Central to this new theodicy has been an affirmation of the suffering of God, overturning centuries of orthodoxy that had insisted on divine passibility and immutability, but following a track marked out already by Hegel and Schelling in the nineteenth century.

Keywords: Christian theology, suffering, tragedy, theodicy, crucifixion, Jesus, atonement, coping

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