A marvelous introduction to Kierkegaard, emphasizing his Lutheran heritage.
Kierkegaard is a fascinating author. Living shortly after the dawn of modernity in the Enlightenment, he restates classical Christianity in dynamic fashion. His Lutheran heritage is vital here as he places 'faith' over against 'reason'. Yet Kierkegaard also holds decidedly pre-modern epistemological presuppositions that are supportive of his endeavour.
After an initial chapter on Kierkegaard's intellectual milieu, the book expounds with reference to their philosophical and historical context seven of his major texts, ranging over theological, ethical, social and political questions. A final chapter, on an autobiographical text, allows of an estimate of Kierkegaard as a person.
The book does not however simply depict Kierkegaard. In the 'Critique' with which each chapter concludes Hampson carries on a lively debate with Kierkegaard. Questions range from his indifference to biblical historical criticism, his lack of a sense for causality and for the regularity of nature, and his early a-political outlook.
Whatever one's theological evaluation, Kierkegaard has insights that are abiding; into the nature of the self in relation to God, the manner of according dignity to others, and the need to prioritise rightly in life. Quoted extensively in this book, Kierkegaard, a writer of distinction, enthrals the reader with his flair, wit and never failing perspicacity.
A provocative and original book, while accessible to those approaching these texts for the first time, it should also be of interest to the seasoned Kierkegaard scholar, illuminating as has no previous work the importance of comprehending the structure of Lutheran faith for grasping Kierkegaard's thought.
Daphne Hampson holds doctorates in history from Oxford, in theology from Harvard, and a master's in Continental Philosophy from Warwick. The author of Christian Contradictions: The Structures of Lutheran and Catholic Thought, she has for many years engaged with the Lutheran tradition, in particular the work of Kierkegaard. She has lectured widely, in the UK, Continental Europe, and North America. Professor Emerita of Divinity at the University of St Andrews where she held a chair in Post Christian Thought, and a life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge, Daphne lives and works in Oxford where she is an Associate of the Faculty of Theology and Religion.
"Known for her polished style and ability to simplify complex ideas, Hampson offers a highly readable introduction into Kierkegaard, the father of Existentialism."
"Exceptionally good It impressively walks a line between accessibility and technical scholarship, while providing as compelling a theological context for Kierkegaardian thought as this reviewer has ever read."--CHOICE
"Functioning on different levels, this book will have a broad appeal to many different kinds of reader. Hampson wonderfully orchestrates a critical dialogue with Kierkegaard in a way that provides ample demonstration of the importance of his thought today. This highly readable work represents a valuable contribution to Kierkegaard studies." --Jon Stewart, Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre, Copenhagen
"A marvel of scholarship. Hampson is one of the few interpreters of Kierkegaard able to take account of both the philosophical and theological backdrop of Kierkegaard's thought. Clear, comprehensive, and elegantly written, one of the book's most important merits is the success Hampson enjoys in locating Kierkegaard within his own Lutheran tradition." --Gordon Marino, St Olaf's College
"A delightful and powerful new book on Kierkegaard. Acknowledging his radical conservatism, insisting against Kierkegaard on the need for collective responses to social injustice, Hampson nonetheless writes in a spirit of critical friendship. Combining a forthright accessible style with real scholarship and familiarity with Kierkegaard's personal, intellectual and spiritual struggles, she brings him vividly to life for our time." --David Wood, Vanderbilt University
"Setting Kierkegaard in his intellectual context, this book guides readers through the key texts, identifying and debating the questions they provoke. Hampson has inspired many students to engage with this most demanding of writers. Her book will both attract new readers and serve as a stimulating refresher to those familiar with Kierkegaard's writings." --George Pattison, Oxford University