International Journal for Philosophy of Religion

, Volume 69, Issue 1, pp 29-43

First online:

Theology and narrative: the self, the novel, the Bible

  • Stephen MulhallAffiliated withNew College, Philosophy Department, University of Oxford Email author 

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This paper critically evaluates the work of Charles Taylor and Alasdair MacIntyre by comparing their understanding of the narrative structure of selfhood with paradigms derived from three other sources: Heidegger’s conception of human being as Dasein; Rowan Williams’ interpretation of Dostoevsky’s theology of narrative; and Kierkegaard’s project of reading the Old Testament narrative of Abraham and Isaac as part of the Christian God’s autobiography. These comparisons suggest that Taylor and MacIntyre’s own narratives of Western culture lack a certain, theologically required openness to a variety of specific ways in which both individuality and history resist understanding in narrative terms as much as they demand it.


Martin Heidegger Charles Taylor Alasdair MacIntyre Rowan Williams Soren Kierkegaard Fyodor Dostoevsky Narrative History Selfhood Literature