Theodicy, Suffering and Faith: A Bibliography

Thanks so very much to all readers of Per Crucem ad Lucem who took the time to contribute a richly-helpful smorgasboard of readings and films in response to my previous post. This has been enormously helpful (and encouraging) and I’ve spent much of today checking out some of these suggestions (including some really obvious ommissions to my original list) and building a fuller list which I hope to keep adding to in the coming months. Again, additional suggestions are most welcome.



[Updated: 26 April 2010]


  1. A fine piece on suffering is Simone Weil’s essay, “The Love of God and Affliction,” found I believe in The Simone Weil Reader. An abridged version is found in Waiting on God. She argues from experience that intense suffering can be a way to Christ, an unwelcome way, but a way nevertheless.


  2. This is a fantastic bibliography. I’m doing a MTh thesis on Paul Fiddes’ Doctrine of God and this list has given me some new titles I hadn’t heard of – thank you.


  3. I find that the best textbook for a course on theodicy is still John Hick’s Evil and the God of Love (2nd ed.) (1977). It needs, of course, to be accompanied by more recent literature for the students to have a holistic feel of the subject. However, for a basic introduction, it remains, in my view, unsurpassed. A key article summarising the state of theodicy in the West after the Holocaust is Richard Bauckham’s “Theodicy” in his The Theology of Jürgen Moltmann (1995). In it he mentions some key modern texts – in addition to Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and Wiesel’s Night, there are Camus’ The Rebel and Wiesel’s other book Twilight. Moltmann’s The Trinity and the Kingdom (1981) has important statements on theodicy in addition to his The Crucified God. Karl Rahner’s article “Why Does God allow us to Suffer” is his Theological Investigations, Vol. 19 (1983) might also be worth looking at. You might also want to introduce some readings on Open Theism’s response to evil (e.g. books by Gregory Boyd, Clark Pinnock etc.) They can be painful to read, but Open Theism seems a popular movement (at least in the States), and it might be good to make some mention of it in a course on theodicy. And finally, how can we leave out the person who coined the term “theodicy” itself – Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and his Theodicy: Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil.


  4. No DMM? It is probably best to approach his material after reading say CD III/3 and some von Balthasar (who is also missing). Two pieces that might be worth looking at are: “Evil and the Vulnerability of God”. Philosophy 62 (Jan., 1987), 102 and “Eternal Loss”. New Blackfriars (Nov., 1988), 472-478, which I can send to you if you want. And of course there are the essays on tragedy and theology. There is a very good book by Anthony Cane comparing Barth’s treatment of Judas with MacKinnon’s, called The Place of Judas Iscariot in Christology (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2005). One further thing: if you are reading Lewis’ The Problem of Pain, you might find DMM’s review in The Oxford Magazine 59 (May 8, 1941), 286 (which I also have a copy of) interesting. He contends (rightly I think) that Lewis has mis-located the theological problem.


  5. oh yes… and Lord Sutherland’s book on D’s Brother’s Karamazov. or you could just get your students to listen to bach’s b-minor mass, mozart’s requiem, and the entire coltrane catalogue.


  6. Andre, thanks heaps for those suggestions. Did you not notice the MacKinnon piece – ‘Atonement and Tragedy’ – that I included? I’d be delighted to have copies of the other reading you mentioned. Thanks for the heads up too about Anthony Cane’s book. Sounds fascinating and very check-out-able. BTW, I’m hoping to hit your work this weekend.


  7. ah, i see you do mention it. The essays DMM mentions in footnote to that paper – “Subjective and Objective Conceptions of Atonement” (in F. G. Healey (ed.), Prospects for Theology (London: Nisbet, 1966), and “Theology and Tragedy”, Religious Studies 2 (April, 1967), 163-169, reprinted in MacKinnon’s The Stripping of the Altars), are also worth looking at. The three essays form a kind of trilogy. The book by the Jewish philosopher, D. Daiches Raphael (who, interestingly, spent some time teaching philosophy in Dunedin), The Paradox of Tragedy (London: Allen and Unwin, 1960) is worth reading, because there you find a quite strong argument that tragedy is in the end incommensurable with the commitments of Christian faith. I’ll send you copies of the articles I mentioned earlier. One more thing (sorry I’m going on and on…), but some of Iris Murdoch’s work might be relevant too. Do you remember that quote of hers mentioned by John Webster, I think in one of his books on Barth? Something to the effect that we needed quite concrete accounts of sin. Which reminds me… you get that sort of thing in Butler’s sermons don’t you? They ought to be mandatory in any course dealing with topic related to Christian ethics, and I guess a course in theodicy is somewhere on the borderlands between theology, ethics, and metaphysics. Oh, and you absolutely MUST include Gillian Rose’s Love’s Work.


  8. Has Christopher Southgate’s “Groaning of Creation” been mentioned? It’s an interesting look into evolution and the problem of evil.


  9. Hello Jason, thanks so much for this diversification of sources on theodicy. I was working on the syllabus for my class on theodicy and saw that most of what I would’ve included (in the bibliography) you already had. Thx so much as I am going to use your outline in my bibliography. Hope this finds you as a compliment. :) Brian McKenzie


  10. Hey man, no worries and thx again Jason. I’m a professor and Th.D. candidate at Beth Rapha Christian College and Theological Seminary in NY, USA. My Church is reformed in its theology but Pentecostal in its worship experience (lol). What a mix huh??? Well at any rate it is so good to have made this contact and I am so greatful that you reached back to me so soon. My research project is on ascetic theology and modern therapeutic approaches to healing addiction. What are you currently working on???


Comments welcome here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.