Bonetskaia Natal'ia

Lev Shestov as a Theologian and the Theology of the Great and Ultimate Battle

Bonetskaia Natal'ia (2014) "Lev Shestov as a Theologian and the Theology of the Great and Ultimate Battle ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia, 2014, vol. 52, pp. 78-97 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI201452.78-97


Lev Shestov’s early period in which he developed his religious views is the subject of this article. Shestov was a well-known Russian thinker. The author sheds some light on the furtive character of his thought as well as attempts to reconstruct the sources of his religious consciousness. He was formed at the border between two religious worlds — that of Judaism and that of Christianity. Traces of Jewish free-thinking typical of the end of the nineteenth century color his Weltanschauung together with the infl uence of Nietzsche and the Bible, the last as it was interpreted by the western tradition. Shestov understands God in a way akin to that of anthropomorphic psychology, an understanding which develops the concept of the deity into a form of radical apophatic ignorance or the complete absence of the ability to know God. The author points out that Shestov’s God is not the God of life and religious experience but rather a product of a kind of radicalized rationality. This notwithstanding, the original theological perceptions of Shestov were generated by his search for an authentic philosophical life. The author concentrates her attention on two main tendencies in Shestov’s understanding of life — a holistic tendency and a personalistic tendency. From a reading of Shestov’s first book (Shakespeare and his critic Brandes published in 1898) it becomes clear that the personalistic tendency won out. The concept of rebellion takes first place in Shestov’s thought as well as that of the great and ultimate battle. As a result Shestov’s thought becomes dominated by anthopology rather than theology and the concept of God gives way to that of man as the rebel. Shestov’s thought, particularly in his works dating from the second half of the twentieth century, falls under the influence of Nietzsche and the man from the underground of Dostoevsky. His God becomes the God of Manichaeism, on the far side of neither good nor evil, and his thought finally degenerates to the point of expressing an almost unadulterated form of Satanism. During the second half of the twentieth century, the concept of rootlessness becomes central in his ideology and is related to his idea of divine arbitrariness. Shestov’s particular understanding of faith evolves in tandem with the Nietzschean concepts of the death of God and the superman. Shestov’s faith becomes a faith without object and his God becomes an unknown God. Shestov’s anthropology and his theology evolve as parallel processes during the twentieth century and fi nally bring about this two-edged result. At the same time, both these factors are realized in Shestov’s concept of the superman.


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