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Aspects of Dante’s theology of redemption: Eden, the Fall, and Christ in Dante with respect to Augustine

Marletta, D.; (2011) Aspects of Dante’s theology of redemption: Eden, the Fall, and Christ in Dante with respect to Augustine. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

My thesis offers an account of salvation theology in Augustine and Dante under three main aspects: prelapsarianism, the fall, and the redemptive work of God in Christ. Resting on an analysis of the precise doctrinal position in these authors, the thesis is historical in conception, but is arranged in such a way as to allow the patterns of thought advanced by Augustine and Dante to enter into a dialogue one with the other, its overall purpose, therefore, being a species of conversation transcending the historical pure and simple. In keeping with this, the thesis is in three chapters, the first chapter exploring the notion of man’s original righteousness in Augustine and Dante, the second their respective senses of the fall in its essential substance and meaning, and the third their understanding of the redemptive work of the Christ. More precisely, the first chapter compares and contrasts Augustine’s sense of how it is that man stands in need of grace for the purposes of good works even prior to the fall with Dante’s sense of his direct creation in the image of God and of the implications of this for his persisting in good works without God’s further assistance. The second chapter addresses the origins of sin, and, more particularly, compares Augustine’s sense of evil as a matter of privation with Dante’s account of it in terms of dysfunctionality on the plane of properly human loving. In Chapter Three I take up the question of the relationship between nature and grace, and, in consequence of the fall, the indispensability of the latter as that whereby man is brought home once again to God. But where in Augustine (and especially in the later Augustine) it is always a question of nature as moved by grace to its proper good, I argue that for Dante grace enters into nature for the purposes of empowering it from within itself to its proper righteousness and likeness to God. Basing my argument on a strict reading of the text, and taking care in the introduction to identify the main historical and contemporary approaches to the question of Dante and Augustine (and thus to preserve at every stage a properly scholarly perspective), I nonetheless aim in my thesis to recreate in a manner over and beyond the purely historical something of the dialogue which is taking place here, a dialogue at every point informed, for all its distribution and re-distribution of emphases, by a common existential intensity, a shared preoccupation with what it might mean for man to be both for self and for God.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Aspects of Dante’s theology of redemption: Eden, the Fall, and Christ in Dante with respect to Augustine
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of EU Langs, Culture and Society > Italian

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