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Cleansing the Cosmos: a Biblical model for conceptualizing and counteracting evil

Warren, E. Janet (2012)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

Understanding evil spiritual forces is essential for Christian theology. Evil has typically been studied either from a philosophical perspective or through the lens of ‘spiritual warfare’. The first seldom considers demonology; the second is flawed by poor methodology. Furthermore, warfare language is problematic, being very dualistic, associated with violence and poorly applicable to ministry. This study addresses these issues by developing a new model for conceptualizing and counteracting evil using ‘non-warfare’ biblical metaphors, and relying on contemporary metaphor theory, which claims that metaphors are cognitive and can depict reality. In developing this model, I examine four biblical themes with respect to alternate metaphors for evil: Creation, Cult, Christ and Church. Insights from anthropology (binary oppositions), theology (dualism, nothingness) and science (chaos-complexity theory) contribute to the construction of the model, and the concepts of profane space, sacred space and sacred actions (divine initiative and human responsibility) guide the investigation. The role of the Holy Spirit in maintaining the boundaries of divine reality is emphasized, and the ontology of evil minimized (considered quasi-real). This model incorporates concentric circles, evil being considered peripheral to godly reality. I suggest metaphors of cleansing, ordering, separating and limiting evil and discuss potential applications of this model.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Cartledge, Mark J. (1962-) and Davies, Andrew
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion
Subjects:B Philosophy (General)
BL Religion
BR Christianity
BS The Bible
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3550
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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