Kaleidoscope: F.M. Dostoevsky and the Early Dialectical Theology

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Introducing a new hermeneutics, this book explores the correlation between the personal faith of F.M. Dostoevsky (1821-1881) and the religious quality of his texts. In offering the first comprehensive analysis of his ego documents, it demonstrates how faith has methodologically to be defined by the inaccessibility of the 'living person'. This thesis, which draws on the work of M.M. Bakhtin, is further developed by critically examining the reception of Dostoevsky by the two main representatives of early dialectical theology, Karl Barth and Eduard Thurneysen. In the early 1920s, they claimed Dostoevsky as a chief witness to their radical theology of the fully transcendent God. While previously unpublished archive materials demonstrate the theological problems of their static conceptual interpretation, the 'kaleidoscopic' hermeneutics is founded on the awareness that a text offers only a fixed image, whereas living faith is in permanent motion.
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Biographical Note

Katya Tolstaya, Ph.D. (2006), Faculty of Theology, VU University, Amsterdam, is Director of the Institute For Academic Study of Eastern Christianity (INaSEC) and Assistant Professor of Dogmatics and Ecumenics . She publishes on Western systematic theology, Eastern Orthodoxy, literature, and hermeneutics.

Review Quotes

"In many ways Kaleidoscope is the first and certainly the most extensive work dedicated to the topic of Dostoevsky and early dialectical theology. [...] Kaleidoscope marks an important step forward in the complex relationship between Dostoevsky and early dialectical theology."
- David Tew, in: Anglican Theological Review 98.2

"Tolstaya’s book serves as an invaluable reminder of the need to read Dostoevsky through the kaleidoscope of his worldviews and not simply
to overlay his texts with our own views."
- Michael R. Kelly, Brigham Young University, in: The Russian Review Volume 71, Issue 1 (2017).

Table of contents

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

PREFACE

PART I. METHOD
1. THE POLYPHONIC NOVEL
1.1 Introduction. ‘The man in man’ and the heart
1.2 Polyphony as genre of Dostoevsky’s novels (Bakhtin)
1.3 The place of the idea in the polyphonic novel
1.4 Dialogue within the polyphonic novel as a condition for exposing the truth
1.5 The four entities: living person, author, narrator, hero
1.6 The relation between author, narrator and characters in the polyphonic novel

2. KALEIDOSCOPE
2.1 The two types of reader of the polyphonic novel; the life of the text in ‘great time’
2.2 The relation between Dostoevsky’s ego documents and the polyphonic novels

PART II. THE ROOTS OF POLYPHONY, OR: ‘HOW DO YOU BELIEVE?’ DOSTOEVSKY’S RELIGIOUS CONCEPTIONS IN THE EGO DOCUMENTS

3. INTRODUCTION

4. THE REBIRTH OF RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS
4.1 Dostoevsky’s youth
4.2 The periodization of Dostoevsky’s faith
4.3 The meaning of Siberia for the periodization of Dostoevsky´s faith
4.4 Doubt and constants of faith. Christ as the truth

5. ‘MASHA IS LYING ON THE TABLE’
5.1 Introduction. The text
5.2 The scientific-ethical problem of the ego documents; the lacunae
5.3 Discussion of the text
5.4 The form of “the 1864 entry” in relation to other genres

6. ‘HOW DO YOU BELIEVE?’ PHILOSOPHICALLY
6.1 Introduction. ‘A philosophical deist’
6.2 Dostoevsky and Kant

7. ‘HOW DO YOU BELIEVE?’ THEOLOGICALLY
7.1 Introduction
7.2 The conception of God in connection with Christology and ethics
7.3 Christ as God and man in Dostoevsky’s conception
7.4 The body of Christ in the grave, resurrection, and salvation
7.5 Transfiguration into the ‘I of Christ’ in relation to the thought of A.S. Khomyakov
7.6 Transfiguration into the ‘I of Christ’ in relation to the doctrine of theosis and the doctrine of the pervasion of creation by divine energies
7.7 Dostoevsky’s ego documents in the light of theosis and the unity of creation
7.8 The ethics of neighbourly love and the immortality of the soul
7.9 Neighbourly love and the coincidence of God and immortality in ‘Unfounded Assertions’, the correspondence with A. Kovner and N. Ozmidov. The hidden personal message
7.10 Realism and the hidden message
7.11 Dostoevsky’s ideology
7.12 General and contemporary history in an eschatological perspective in ‘Socialism and Christianity’
7.13 Dostoevsky’s chiliasm
7.14 The ‘apocalyptic’ and the ‘rose-coloured’ Christianity of Dostoevsky
7.15 Belief in literal resurrection from the dead. Dostoevsky and N. F. Fedorov
7.16 Freedom in the light of sin

8. CONCLUSION
PART III. DOSTOEVSKY AND EARLY DIALECTICAL THEOLOGY

9. INTRODUCTION TO THE THEME “DOSTOEVSKY AND EARLY DIALECTICAL THEOLOGY”
9.1 Introduction
9.2 State of research
9.3 Dostoevsky reception and translations in the German-speaking world

10. DOSTOEVSKY IN THE CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN BARTH AND THURNEYSEN
10.1 The character of the correspondence
10.2 Crime and Punishment in 1915 and Barth’s interest in Dostoevsky in 1919-1920
10.3 Thurneysen as Dostoevsky expert
10.4 Conclusion

11. THURNEYSEN’S DOSTOJEWSKI
11.1 „Was ist das: der Mensch?“ and other central themes in Thurneysen’s Dostojewski
11.2 Demarcations
11.3 Rodion Raskolnikoff
11.4 The Brothers Karamazov
11.5 The Idiot
11.6 Part three of Dostojewski
11.7 Eschatology and the drunkard Marmeladov
11.8 Attack on religion and the Church in the ‘poem’ about the Grand Inquisitor
11.9 Ivan Karamazov
11.10 A ‘dialectical turn’ in Ivan’s speech: his atheism
11.11 The Creed of Ivan Karamazov
11.12 ‘Ivan Karamazov is the Grand Inquisitor’ and therefore the devil
11.13 A kaleidoscopic twist. Thurneysen’s view of love in the teaching of Starets Zosima
11.14 Thurneysen’s view of the soteriology of Starets Zosima
11.15 Active love in the doctrine of Starets Zosima
11.16 Conclusion in the light of the reception of Thurneysen’s Dostojewski

12. DOSTOEVSKY IN RÖMERBRIEF II EXPLAINED IN THE LIGHT OF THE BRIEFWECHSEL AND THURNEYSEN’S COMMENTARIES
12.1 Introduction
12.2 The cooling of Barth’s and Thurneysen’s interest in Dostoevsky
12.3 By Thurneysen?
12.4 ‘I have read your proofs’
12.5 Ivan Karamazov in Barth’s commentary on Rom. 8:17 and 18 and in Thurneysen’s remark on Rom. 8:18
12.6 Theodicy in Rom. 5:3-5
12.7 The polyphony of The Brothers Karamazov in the context of Römerbrief II: Zosima
12.8 The Grand Inquisitor in Römerbrief II
12.9 Römerbrief II and Marmeladov
12.10 Existential attitude in Römerbrief II
12.11 ‘God’s viewpoint’
12.12 The problems of early dialectical theology in present-day Barth studies
12.13 In conclusion

ARCHIVE MATERIAL
BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX

Readership

All those interested in literature, hermeneutics, theology and philosophy