Process poesis: A comparison of the concept of God found in the Whiteheadian process theology and in the narrative fiction of Nikos Kazantzakis

Middleton, Darren J. N (1996) Process poesis: A comparison of the concept of God found in the Whiteheadian process theology and in the narrative fiction of Nikos Kazantzakis. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Our study engages a conversation between literature and theology by using the narrative fiction of Nikos Kazantzakis and Whiteheadian process thought. This 'dialogue' unfolds in five chapters. It begins as we locate an affinity between Kazantzakis and Alfred North Whitehead in their understanding of an evolving deity who relies on our support to progress into the future. Utilizing The Saviours of God: Spiritual Exercises and Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology, our objective in this first chapter is to reveal the common philosophy (Bergsonian transformism and evolutionary thought) which shapes both Kazantzakis and Whitehead's understanding of God. In chapter two, we recognize that the exercise of sustaining this interchange becomes, at times, demanding because our conversation partners use dissimilar textual modes and forms of discourse. By further exploring the role of God in Kazantzakis and Whitehead, we hold that literature and theology constantly (de)construct one another. Suggesting that this (de)constructive assignment is one that cannot but be 'in process' itself, we return to it throughout our study. The following chapters are arranged according to the standard order and progression of Christian theological topics. We bring theology and literature into conversation by comparing a specific theme in a novel by Kazantzakis and in the work(s) of a particular Whiteheadian process theologian. In chapter three. The Last Temptation is coupled with John Cobb's Christ in a Pluralistic Age. Here we note how Kazantzakis and Cobb write of Jesus becoming divine and of Christ as one who fights against the mortmain of the past which holds us in thrall. We next read God's Pauper: St Francis of Assisi alongside of Blair Reynolds's Toward a Process Pneumatology in a consideration of God as evolving Spirit. Uniting these differently structured texts is a portrayal of the divine transcendence-within-immanence (process panentheism). We find in our fifth and final chapter that common to both Zorba the Greek and David Ray Griffin's God and Religion in the Postmodern World: Essays in Postmodern Theology is the belief that creativity is universal, that spirituality involves the imitation of an adventurous God, and that our attempts to instantiate moral and religious beauty can enhance the becoming of others (human and divine). With the help of ideas culled from the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, we note that the tense but close alliance between the Dionysiac and Apollonian traits of Zorba and the Boss evokes the relationship between literature and theology. We end our final chapter with a discussion of possible points of divergence and convergence between the two disciplines in light of insights from deconstruction theory, and we maintain that the dialogue we have sustained between them allows us to interpret Kazantzakis's narrative fiction as a mythopoesis of process thought. In a succinct conclusion, we consider the value of this interpretation to Whiteheadian process theologians and Kazantzakis scholars.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Philosophy of Religion
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Jasper, Dr. David
Date of Award: 1996
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1996-71648
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 May 2019 13:59
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2022 10:52
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.71648

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