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



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 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Heidegger M. (1962) Being and time (J. Macquarrie & E. Robinson, Trans.). Oxford, BlackwellGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Johnston M. (2009) Saving God. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kierkegaard S. (1983) Fear and trembling (H. V. Hong & E. H. Hong, Trans.). Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    MacIntyre A. (1981) After virtue. Duckworth, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    McCabe H. (2005) The good life. Continuum, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Williams R. (2008) Dostoevsky: Language, faith and fiction. Baylor University Press, Waco, TXGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Wittgenstein L. (1953) Philosophical investigations (G. E. M. Anscombe, Trans.). Oxford, BlackwellGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New College, Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations