Help with a Kierkegaard Quotation?
So, it started when I came across a cool quotation from Kierkegaard while reading a history of Christian universalism…
Here’s the relevant paragraph from p. 208 of Morwenna Ludlow’s “Universalism in the History of Christianity,” in Robin A. Parry & Christopher H. Partridge, ed., Universal Salvation?: The Current Debate (Eerdmans, 2004):
Soren Kierkegaard (1813-55) also had doubts about the traditional Christian concept of hell, and seems to have hoped for universal salvation, despite the pessimistic tone of his theology. He once replied to a question about hell: ‘If others go to hell, then I will go too. But I do not believe that; on the contrary I believe that all will be saved, myself with them — something which arouses my deepest amazement.’
I turned to the back of the article to find note 56 and see where Kierkegaard had said this. Here’s what I found:
56. Cited by Müller (1964), p. 17 (my translation).
And in the back of the book, I found this reference for Müller (1964):
‘Die Idee einer Apokatastasis ton panton in der europaischen Theologie von Schleiermacher bis Barth’ in Zeitschrift fur Religions und Geistesgeschichte 16:1.
So none of that told me where Kierkegaard had written/said it. What’s more, it raised the possibility that what I had was not a direct translation, but a translation of some German, which was in turn a translation of Kierkegaard’s original words.
I was in the library, so I looked up and retrieved the 1964 ZRG. The paper by Muller contained, in German, the quotation Ludlow had translated, plus a little more material before the part Ludlow gave us. But Muller also didn’t say where Kierkegaard had written the material, but rather cited….ANOTHER even older GERMAN ARTICLE! Here’s Muller’s footnote:
57. Zitiert nach E. Geismar, Das ethische Stadium bei Soren Kierkegaard (Zeitschrift fur systematische Theologie 1 , S. 260, Anm. 2).
The library didn’t have that 1923 volume on-hand; it was in another Yale library. So I requested it & picked it up a few days later. Here’s the relevant bit:
And here, from the beginning of the article, is the work “E.P.” designates:
My German isn’t very good, but it looks like an interesting quotation. It would be nice to read it in its context. Would this be in any English translation, does anybody know?
A few days after I got the 1923 paper, I received the copy of The Evangelical Universalist, by Gregory MacDonald (pseudonym) I had ordered from Amazon.com. And right on page 1, MacDonald had the quotation from Kierkegaard I’d been looking for. I didn’t have my Ludlow with me, but it was certainly the same quotation. What’s more, MacDonald had a reference — to a widely available English translation! Here’s MacDonald’s footnote:
1. S. Kierkegaard, Christian Discourses: The Crisis and A Crises in the Life of an Actress, H.V. Hong and E.H. Hong, trans. and eds. (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1997) Part Three, section IV (“There Will be the Resurrection of the Dead, of the Righteous–and of the Unrighteous”) 209-10. There is, as often with Kierkegaard, a question as to how straightforwardly to take his claims.
So I got that volume — and the quotation wasn’t there! There was some universalist-sounding material, but it wasn’t nearly so cool as the passage Ludlow & MacDonald had quoted. I figured that MacDonald had some notes of interesting universalist passages, and had just confused the reference for the cool Kierkegaard one with the not-so-cool one. But I was hoping that meant the passage I was looking for was probably elsewhere in the Princeton UP volumes of translations of Kierkegaard.
But then I remembered that MacDonald had mentioned in another connection the book in which Ludlow’s paper appeared. Could he have just gotten the quotation from the same source I had — Ludlow? I got MacDonald’s book together with Ludlow’s paper, and the quotation was exactly the same, word-for-word, punctuation-mark-by-punctuation-mark. So my best guess is that MacDonald had jotted down the cool passage from Ludlow’s paper, had jotted down the not-so-cool passage from the Princeton UP translation, and had confused the references.
So, that leaves me wondering: Is the cool passage in any of the English translations of Kierkegaard? Or will I have to settle for this translation from the German, which is in turn a translation of Kierkegaard’s own words? Are there any Kierkegaard fans out there with an easy answer to this? I’m a novice with a very tenuous grasp of German, no knowledge at all of Danish, and only a minimal knowledge of Kierkegaard.
Posted by Keith DeRose | Permalink
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» Best blog find of the week, 8 July 2006 from Kneading Bread
Check out the blog Generous Orthodoxy: Think Tank, it has insightful and well-written articles. The subject of universalism is in discussion right now and is worth a read. A recent post on Kierkegaards view of heaven and salvation (is it univers… [Read More]
Tracked on July 08, 2006 at 04:43 PM