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Kierkegaard as Negative Theologian

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Kierkegaard as Negative Theologian is concerned with Kierkegaard’s “apophaticism”—the elements of Kierkegaard’s thought which emphasize the incapacity of human reason and the hiddenness of God. Apophaticism is an important underlying strand in Kierkegaard’s thought and colors many of his key concepts. Despite its importance, it has until now been largely ignored by Kierkegaardian scholarship.

David R. Law argues that apophatic elements can be detected in every aspect of Kierkegaard’s thought and that, despite proceeding from different presuppositions, he can therefore be regarded as a negative theologian. The book concludes by showing that Kierkegaard’s refusal to make the transition from the via negativa to the via mystica means that he is even more apophatic than the negative theologians themselves.

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  • Examines the apophaticism or negative theology of Kierkegaard
  • Traces the historical background of Kierkegaard’s apophaticism and the methodological foundations of his thoughts
  • Describes the anthropological and theological basis of Kierkegaard and his theory of stages or spheres of existence
  • Compares the aphophatic motifs of Kierkegaard’s thoughts with those of negative theologians
  • Dialectics
  • Epistemology
  • Truth
  • The Stages of Existence
  • God
  • Christology
  • Kierkegaard as Negative Theologian
One cannot but admire the scholarship and clarity with which David R. Law . . . has written Kierkegaard as Negative Theologian. . . . The subject matter is abstruse but the treatment could hardly have been more erudite or more clearly written.

Expository Times

This book is a most valuable addition to studies of Kierkegaard . . . his book has earned for him a place among the leading Kierkegaard specialists in this country. . . . Dr. Law has rendered an important service both to us and to Kierkegaard’s memory.


In refreshing contrast to other recent authors, Law pays detailed attention to Kierkegaard’s skeptical epistemology and his conception of truth.

Times Literary Supplement

Well-researched and clearly structured book . . . the fact that David Law has given us a case worth arguing against is in itself a commendation . . . It should also be said that his survey of Kierkegaard’s possible sources for knowledge of the apophatic tradition is an exemplary piece of scholarship that in itself provides a useful tool for anyone wanting to follow further the question of Kierkegaard’s knowledge of patristic and medieval sources.

—George Pattison, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, Christ Church, Oxford

. . . the book is a model of clearly delineated development. This is a worthy and provocative book that will enjoy an argumentative place in the study of negative theology and Kierkegaard.

International Journal for Philosophy of Religion

  • Title: Kierkegaard as Negative Theologian
  • Author: David R. Law
  • Series: Oxford Theological Monographs
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date: 1993
  • Pages: 248

David R. Law is a professor of Christian thought and philosophical theology at The University of Manchester. He is the author of Kierkegaard’s Kenotic Christology, The Historical-Critical Method, Briefly: Sartre’s Existentialism and Humanism, and Inspiration.


Digital list price: $59.99
Save $12.00 (20%)