Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Tillichian analysis of Genesis 2 and 3 from the perspective of the Gilgamesh epic
by Mitchell, Brent, M.T.S., Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, 2016, 75; 10128402
Abstract (Summary)

Paul Tillich’s analysis of Genesis 2 and 3 in his Systematic Theology Volume 2 arguably amounts to a theory of evil A puzzling aspect of his conceptual framework, however, is that Adam and Eve do not exemplify his explanation of evil so much as imply it. Although Adam and Eve may indulge in a taste of unbelief, hubris, and concupiscence, the Genesis text offers no evidence that this taste transforms them into the compulsively exploitative, egocentric tyrants that Tillich describes. However, Tillich’s analysis works exceptionally well when applied to the older Gilgamesh narrative. Applying the Tillichian dynamics of hubris and concupiscence helps to make sense of Gilgamesh’s destructive appetites for power and fame. It also sheds light on the significance of the numerous parallels between the two stories. When we read Gilgamesh through this Tillichian lens, and then read Genesis 2 and 3 with Gilgamesh in mind, new interpretive possibilities emerge from the stories’ parallels elements. The character Gilgamesh’s original sin is hubris as Tillich defines it: denial of finitude. Existentialist depth psychologist Ernest Becker agrees with Tillich’s observation that finitude is man’s core fear, and as such is the catalyst of man’s most rapacious predation upon his fellow humans. Becker compliments and extends Tillich’s framework; and reading Gilgamesh with Tillich’s conceptual framework clarifies both the Gilgamesh epic and the Tillichian framework itself. Moreover, if we then re-read the Eden myth with Gilgamesh in mind as the exemplar of that framework, both clarity and new interpretive possibilities for understanding the Eden myth also emerge. In the following, we will consider the concepts which constitute Tillich’s interpretive framework, as well what Ernest Becker might add to it. Then we will apply these to the Gilgamesh. Finally, we will return to Genesis 2 and 3 with this Tillichian reading of Gilgamesh in mind.

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ray Jr., Stephen G., Duncan, Julie
School: Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Department: Graduate School
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: MAI 55/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Theology
Keywords: Becker, Ernest, Evil, Existentialism, Genesis, Gilgamesh, Tillich, Paul
Publication Number: 10128402
ISBN: 978-1-339-86414-3
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