From the Syllabus: The problem of evil and seemingly inexplicable suffering not only poses a major challenge to the belief in a moral God of biblical monotheism but also to religion in general. Although it is a problem that cannot be solved and thus may appear as a futile intellectual activity, it is also—simply put—a problem that won’t go away. Hence, we need to explore how this central discourse in the humanities shapes our attitude toward social reality and personal responsibility. What do changes in our understanding of the problem of evil reveal about changes in our understanding of ourselves, of our place in the world, and human agency?
We will begin our discussion with the Book of Job, which sets the discursive framework for all subsequent reflections on the theme. The problem of evil cuts across disciplinary lines and requires philosophical responses as much as theological ones; it oscillates between reason and experience. Our primary focus will be on modern Jewish responses to and rationalizations of the experience of suffering (“justified suffering,” “meaningful suffering”) and how they shape Jewish ethics. The course concludes with post-Shoah (Holocaust) theodicies and anti-theodicies.
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|Spring 2014||HCA||No||Religious Studies||Urban|