The fall and rise of King Oedipus
On sacrificial logic and “Proto-Christology”
AbstractThis essay is placed within a continuing debate on the appropriateness of a Christian deployment of tragedy. According David Bentley Hart, tragedy legitimates a sacrificial and scapegoating logic that is in contradiction with the Christian gospel. It promotes exclusion and therefore is imaginatively and metaphysically conservative in its import. In the ensuing argument, I hope to show through one example how even Greek tragedy can resist some of these claims. Drawing on the seminal work of Jean-Pierre Vernant and Pierre Vidal-Naquet, I argue that Sophocles’ Oedipus cycle, firstly, demonstrates the inability of nomos to grasp the exception of Oedipus, and that this might constitute a critique rather than a simple legitimation of the civic order. Secondly, the narrative arc of Oedipus Tyrannus and Oedipus at Colonus point towards incorporation rather than final exclusion, and that his apotheosis could be read as resisting deleterious tropes of a final holocaust of the tragic figure. In the final section, drawing on Rowan Williams, I discuss the problems associated with literary Christologies in general, and whether it could be theologically feasible to talk about the Theban cycle as exhibiting a ‘proto-Christology’.
Copyright (c) 2021 Pieter de Waal Neethling Trust, Stellenbosch
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Once an article is published in Stellenbosch Theological Journal (STJ)extends an exclusive license agreement, where authors have copyright but license exclusive rights in their article to the Pieter de Waal Neethling Trust (PDWN Trust). The PDWN Trust is a trust fund established in 1932. In this case authors have the right to:
- Share their article in the same ways permitted to third parties under the relevant user license (together with Personal Use rights) so long as it contains the Creative Commons Attribution License, and a DOI link.
- Retain patent, trademark and other intellectual property rights (including research data).
- Proper attribution and credit for the published work.
The PDWN Trust pledges to maintain a legitimate scholarly record of the author’s work and to defend the author’s article against plagiarism and copyright infringement.
The PDWN Trust is committed to full Open Access publishing. This means that all articles published in STJ will be made freely available online. Authors maintain the right to:
- Share and self-archive their work.
- Make printed copies of their article for educational use.
- Present their article at a meeting or conference and distribute printed copies of the article
- Adapt and expand their published journal article to make it suitable for their thesis or dissertation.
- Republish the article (ensuring that the original article is cited as published in STJ).
By submitting a manuscript for publication in STJ the authors commit themselves to the fulfilment of the following legal and ethical requirements:
- That all authors involved are in agreement regarding the manuscript to be submitted for publication in STJ and allow the designated author to submit the manuscript on their behalf.
- That the contents of the manuscript do not infringe on any rules or regulations of the responsible authorities where the research was carried out.
- That the manuscript has not been published previously, in part or in whole, except as part of a published lecture or academic thesis.
- That the manuscript has not been submitted to any other journal while being considered for publication by STJ.
- That all relevant sources have been appropriately and correctly cited and that credit is given to the work or findings of others wherever it contributed to one’s own findings.
- That all figures, tables, images or large sections of text that have been published previously, is accompanied by written permission from the original copyright owner(s) to reproduce said items in the particular article in STJ. Such written permission must be submitted with the manuscript. Furthermore, all material used under copyright must be credited appropriately in the submitted manuscript.