Wisdom or foolishness? A critical examination of Eberhard Jüngel’s theology of the cross
Casewell, Deborah Louise
The theology of Eberhard Jüngel endeavours to rethink the being of God and how humanity comes by knowledge of God from the crucifixion of Christ. By focusing on the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, Jüngel proposes that a theology of the cross should be the basis of human knowledge of God as all can be said about the Trinity and christology must be said from the cross. As Jüngel holds that the humanity of Christ is the example and basis for humanity, the cross is also the source of information for Jüngel’s theological anthropology. This thesis seeks to determine whether Jüngel’s focus on the cross as the source of all theological knowledge results in a limited view of God, of Christ, and of humanity. In order to do this, the thesis looks at the history and context of Jüngel himself and why he is interested in basing a theology on the cross. The thesis also looks at the history of critical engagement with Jüngel, and the conclusions that those works have come to. The history of the theology of the cross is explored, from its provenance in Luther through to its rise during and after the Second World War. After detailing the history of the cross Jüngel’s own particular formulation is explicated, alongside Moltmann and Sölle who were the main exponents of a theology of the cross in Germany. Having done so, the effects of Jüngel’s theology of the cross on christology, the doctrine of God, and on anthropology are detailed, and it is argued that Jüngel’s theology of the cross restricts the activity of the person of Christ and that this restriction contradicts his emphasis on the perichoretic union of the Trinity, as well as restricting human action to a creative passivity. However, the thesis also explores the positive sides of Jüngel’s theology of the cross. Jüngel’s theology of the cross is the most theologically and philosophically rigorous of his time, and a theology of the cross is still needed as a normative control in theological thought. Furthermore, the thesis examines how Jüngel’s account of love can be used to advance his theology and repair some of the damage that the limits of his theology of the cross cause.