Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Process theology, along with its connection to questions of suffering and theodicy, presents a perspective that is largely absent within biblical scholarship. Similarly, a lack of clear cohesion with the biblical text is an evident critique of process theology. A hermeneutic that is directly informed by process-oriented passibilism meets a need that is present in both biblical scholarship and process theology, allowing for a deeper understanding of biblical depictions of suffering. This thesis aims to incorporate the theological conclusions of passibilist process theology into a new hermeneutical strategy that will allow for a more comprehensive examination of suffering in the Bible. The thesis first synthesizes several scholarly works that explore the problem of suffering as it relates to both God and humanity. This synthesis produces a theology of powerful suffering that reorients the concept of divine power as ultimate suffering in relationship. This conclusion is further grounded within the biblical text, revealing an overarching biblical narrative of suffering that spans the canon. This theological outlook is then translated into guidelines that form a hermeneutic of powerful suffering. The proposed hermeneutic is most centrally concerned with a text’s role in the canon, granting privilege of perspective to the sufferer and applying the process-oriented passibilist understanding of suffering and power to the text. Finally, the hermeneutic is applied to Song of Songs (specifically 3:1-4 and 5:2-7). The hermeneutic of powerful suffering is found to be successful in revealing an interpretation of scripture that allows for greater ease of application and greater understanding of the text within the canon.
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Burgess, Harley, "Crying Out Together: Forming a Hermeneutic of Powerful Suffering" (2020). MA in Religion Theses. 7.