- Paperback: 159 pages
- Publisher: Canon Press (October 27, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1591280273
- ISBN-13: 978-1591280279
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #666,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Deep Comedy: Trinity, Tragedy, & Hope In Western Literature
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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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Top customer reviews
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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.
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.
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. This shows up in literature. The sons (Zeus and the gods) overthrow the fathers (Chronus and the Titans). Supplementation for Derrida--and the greeks--is violent.
Interestingly, there is no such thing as "origin" unless there is also a moment of "supplementation." Accordling (and contra to Plato), there is no such thing as pure origin, pure essence, or a pure stream. It is already supplemented. At this point Derrida, himself an unbeliever, comes very close to a dark Trinitarianism. He, like Athanasius, sees that there can be no Father without a Son. But Derrida prefers Hesiod (violence) to the Gospel of Jon (perichoreisis).
This is the eschatological moment in the Trinity, and in Western History. Unlike all of history before it, this time the Son does not violence the Father. Christ reveals the Father. Does the Father's will. Incarnates the Father's love.
Here is a Trinitarian argument for you: There can be no Father without the Son. But he has also been the Father for all eternity. Therefore, there must have been a Son for all eternity.
The newly revealed (although ancient) Trinitarian theolgoy was a joyful theology. The Christian gospel--the Christian story--moves from "glory to glory" (1 Cor. 3). The end is always better than the beginning. The medieval romances, despite some lapses, are much happier than Homer. The Christian (medieval) world is thus supernaturalized. The Christian hero is thus an adventurer.
This book may well be Leithart's best work. The chapter "Supplement at the Origin" may well be the best thing on trinitarian theology I have read. It is hard to say how much I recommend this work.