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Eros and Self Emptying: The Intersections of Augustine and Kierkegaard
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Eros and Self Emptying: The Intersections of Augustine and Kierkegaard


Eerdmans 2013

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In this book—the first volume in the Kierkegaard as a Christian Thinker series—Lee Barrett offers a novel comparative interpretation of early church father Augustine and nineteenth-century philosopher-theologian Søren Kierkegaard.

Though these two intellectual giants have been paired by historians of Western culture, the exact nature of their similarities and differences has not been probed in detail. Barrett demonstrates that on many essential theological levels Augustine and Kierkegaard were more convergent than divergent. Most significantly, their parallels point to a distinctive understanding of the Christian life as a passion for self-giving love. In this engaging text, Barrett argues that approaching Kierkegaard through the lens of Augustine enables us to identify the theme of desire for fulfillment in God as much more central to Kierkegaard’s thought than previously imagined.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Get more resources for theological studies with the Eerdmans Theological Studies Collection

Key Features

  • Demonstrates Augustine and Kierkegaard as more convergent than divergent
  • Examines two intellectual giants who have been paired by historians of Western culture
  • Explores the theme of desire for fulfillment in God


  • Kierkegaard’s Tensive Picture of Augustine
  • Augustine’s Restless Heart and Kierkegaard’s Desire for an Eternal Happiness
  • Augustine and Kierkegaard on the Road: Life as a Journey
  • God: The Attraction and Repulsion of Boundless Love
  • Sin: Culpable Action and Corrupt State
  • God’s Gracious Response to Sin: The Enigma of Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility
  • Christology: The Allure of Lowliness
  • Salvation: Faithful Love and Loving Faith
  • The Church: A Parting of the Ways?
  • Conclusion: Two Edifying Theologies of Self-Giving

Praise for the Print Edition

What has Hippo to do with Copenhagen? In this superb study Lee Barrett displays how, for all of their differences, Augustine and Kierkegaard unexpectedly share a vision of the Christian life as a journey circling around two central themes: the heart’s restless desire-filled journey to God and God’s self-emptying journey to the individual. . . . Barrett’s command of each thinker’s writings, historical context, and reception is complete. . . . Best of all, he shows how reading both Augustine and Kierkegaard as rhetorical and dialectical thinkers challenges us to rethink traditional Catholic and Protestant binary oppositions. The result is an important contribution not only to studies of Augustine and Kierkegaard but also to constructive Christian theological reflection.

—David J. Gouwens, professor of theology, Brite Divinity School

One could hardly ask for a finer or more highly nuanced treatment of the convergences and divergences, both direct and indirect, between Augustine and Kierkegaard than Barrett has given us in this rich comparative study of these two great theologians of love.

—Sylvia Walsh, scholar in residence, Stetson University

Lee Barrett has done a great service to the scholarly community in providing this study of the relationship between Augustine and Kierkegaard. His attention to the pastoral purpose of their respective writings has yielded a theologically astute and wonderfully insightful account of the commonalities and divergences between these two great thinkers. Readers of Augustine and of Kierkegaard will surely benefit from Barrett’s study, but so too will anyone interested in what the Christian journey of faith involves.

—Murray Rae, professor, University Otago

Product Details

About Lee C. Barrett

Lee C. Barrett is the Mary B. and Henry P. Stager Professor of Theology at Lancaster Theological Seminary. He is also the author of the Abingdon Pillars of Theology volume on Kierkegaard and coeditor of the two-volume work Kierkegaard and the Bible.