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Deep Comedy: Trinity, Tragedy, & Hope In Western Literature

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ISBN-13: 978-1591280279
ISBN-10: 1591280273
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About the Author

Peter Leithart holds degrees in English, history, religion, and theology, including a doctorate in theology from Cambridge University. He is a Senior Fellow at New Saint Andrews College and is the pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Moscow, Idaho. He is the author of numerous books on theology and literature, including A House for My Name, Against Christianity, Blessed are the Hungry, Brightest Heaven of Invention, Ascent to Love, Heroes of the City of Man, Miniatures and Morals, and more, in addition to articles in journals such as Pro Ecclesia, Journal of Biblical Literature, and Westminster Theological Journal.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 159 pages
  • Publisher: Canon Press (October 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591280273
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591280279
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,398,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jacob on March 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book aims at joy--nothing else. Joy is intensified in the despair of (post)modern life. Leithart also neatly connects joy (think comedy) with the Trinity. Leithart aims to show eschatological moments within the Trinity. And if these moments take place within space-time, then this book also aims at eschatology. An eschatology of hope.

The short thesis of this book is that Western literature moves from Tragedy to Comedy and from Comedy to Deep Comedy.

Beginning with Tragedy:
The pivotal work of ancient history is Homer. The Iliad--here Leithat defies convential terms--is a tragedy. Good people (well, protagonists anyway) gone bad. It is hard to find a happy ending to this story. More importantly, such a framework tending toward despair is inherent in a pagan (greek) culture.

Western literature, then, while still pagan, tries to move towards Comedy. Of course, the Odessy has a happier ending than the Iliad. But it lacks the deep resorvoirs of the Christian story. Odesseus knows he will die. And having been to Tarturas, he knows it is better to remain alive.

But The Aeneid is happier, right? Well, kind of. Aeneus does build a mighty house, but only by toppling other houses. Aeneas brings the destruction of Troy with him to Carthage. Aeneas, despite great moments, turns Carthage, represented by the suicidal funeral pyres of Dido, into another Troy.

But something happens with the Western Story. Christ in a way takes the Platonic worldview and subverts it. This is Leithart's most brilliant moment in any of his books. He wrestles with the challenge given by postmodern philosopher Derrida: All literature (or story) must have a supplement to the Origin. But the supplement is almost always a degeneration of the Origin.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Janet on July 14, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The one star is strictly for the formatting. The book, so far, seems to be excellent.

The Kindle version of this book is an absolute disgrace. It says things like, "The Christian God is a triune Cod," and "Fart I examines...." There are pages that I can barely read. I've always assumed that someone actually looks at books after they are electronically converted, but obviously this was not the case.

I bought the Kindle version because I found at the last minute that I need to read the book before Monday. That is the only reason that I'm not returning it.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By thsmiley on October 27, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone interested in philosophy and/or Christian theology would do well to read anything written by Leithart! A brilliant pastor/scholar who always has something interesting and important to say. I hope more will listen to him in the years to come. He has much to contribute to our conversations of faith, Bible, Christianity, theology, and philosophy.
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4 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 9, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Formatting in Kindle Edition of this book looks like a failed OCR conversion to Word document. Simply awful.

Book itself gets 4 stars. Leithart presents a short literary essay examining classical Greco-Roman world-view using its literature as a showcase in contrast with writings influenced by truths of Christianity. Opposing Classic "tragedy" used as a story in which the characters begin well but slide inexorably to a bad end where "glorious" death awaits with "deep comedy" where the happy ending is uncontaminated by any fear of future tragedy and where characters do not simply end as well as they began, but progress beyond their beginning. Very insightful.
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