This morning I was looking up a passage from Bulgakov’s 1917 foray into theology, The Unfading Light, when I happened upon the following passage:
Moreover, religion, which some wish to reduce entirely to ethics, in its integrity is higher than ethics and hence free from it: ethics exists for the human being in certain bounds such as law, but the human being must be able to rise above even ethics. Let them ponder the sense of those stories of the Bible when God, for the purposes of religious economy, or for testing faith, permitted or even ordered acts that wittingly contradict morality: the sacrifice of an only son, the bloody extermination of whole nations, deceit, and theft.
What Bulgakov says here about ethics, and mention of the sacrifice of Isaac, should raise the eyebrows of anyone who has read Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling. Did Bulgakov get this from Kierkegaard? Or did he stumble into the teleological suspension of the ethical by accident? This is more than a point of curiosity for me. Those of us who try to figure out what dead people were thinking benefit greatly from knowing who they were reading. Unfortunately, Orthodox theologians in the past did not always cite their western sources, and even more unfortunately, most of what Bulgakov did footnote, Eerdman’s publishing decided wasn’t worth printing. But don’t get me started on that.
I really would like this question answered. So “Like” this post and share it with all your Russian friends.
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