The 18th century that gave shape to the writing of the mystic Emanuel Swedenborg was a golden age for the “theodicy”: a theological genre that attempted to account for the problem of evil in the world, and to “justify the ways of God to man,” as John Milton famously puts in Paradise Lost. This class explores the contemporary reinvocations of the theodicy under the pressures of COVID-19 (and climate change), while casting a backward glance towards Swedenborg. At the center of the seminar is a slow, close reading of Swedenborg’s *Divine Providence* (1764), translating his theodicy forward into our own moment’s entanglement with planetary crisis and suffering. Other readings will be drawn from Leibniz, Voltaire, and more recent reflections from John Caputo, Catherine Keller, others. Expected audience: MDiv, MA; PhD students can upgrade. Mid-term, final paper.
Devin Phillip Zuber