Elie Wiesel : a challenge to contemporary theology / by Graham Brown Walker, Jr.
The purpose of the dissertation was to delineate significant images in the life and writings of Elie Wiesel which challenge contemporary theology. Chapter 1 outlined a structure of reflection which allowed Elie Wiesel's novels to demonstrate critical theological images from outside the particular field of systematic theology for contemporary theology. Chapter 2 gave an overview of three contemporary Jewish theological responses to the Holocaust. These three distinctively Jewish responses provided a context for the unique contributions of Elie Wiesel's narrative approach. Chapter 3 gleaned three specific images from Wiesel's life and writings: First, the image of a "Wanderer" who is the survivor and the link between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Second, the image of the "Listening God" who remembers the innocent dead and holds the world of the dead in tension with the world of the living. Third, the "Ambiguous Character of God" is the image which resulted from the "Wanderer" telling the story of the victims to a "Listening God." The God who listens accentuates his inactivity during the Holocaust; nevertheless, the "Listening God" remembers the dead of the Holocaust as active subjects in the historical present. Chapter 4 examined the particularly Christian theological responses to the Holocaust of Paul van Buren and Jurgen Moltmann. Van Buren illustrated a Christian theological response to the Holocaust which grappled with the "Supersessionism" of the Christian tradition. Jurgen Moltmann represented a Christian theological response to the Holocaust which struggled with the seriousness of human suffering in the death camps and what that suffering means in the inner life of God. Neither Van Buren nor Moltmann understood the Holocaust as an event with ontological status. Both of these Christian theologians were critiqued by the theological images derived from Elie Wiesel's writings in chapter 3. Chapter 5 presented a summary of Elie Wiesel's theological images outlined in chapter 3. The specific challenges for the image of God, doctrines of redemption, and theological method were reviewed. In concluding, this chapter offered a paradigm for doing Christian theology after Auschwitz and in response to Elie Wiesel's theological challenge.
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