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Praeparatio Evangelica—or Daemonica? C. S. Lewis and Anders Nygren on Spiritual Longing*

  • Jason Lepojärvi (a1)

C. S. Lewis read Anders Nygren's Agape and Eros in his mid-thirties, probably during the Christmas holiday of 1934. His first recorded thoughts, including the statement above, are from a letter dated “Jan 8th 1935” to his Oxford colleague Janet Spens. Despite his decisive criticism of what he calls Nygren's “central contrast”—that agape is selfless and eros self-regarding—Lewis ends this letter with a declaration of uncertainty: “However, I must tackle him again. He has shaken me up extremely.” It is remarkable, then, that Nygren is not mentioned by name in Lewis's The Four Loves (1960). Lewis's opening remarks on his theology of love, which do not directly refer to Nygren, “are critical of Nygren's main thesis in Agape and Eros.”

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For longsuffering help in the form of written and oral feedback on earlier drafts of this article, the author would like to thank Judith Wolfe, Aku Visala, Michael Ward, Bruce R. Johnson, Rope Kojonen, Iisa Lepojärvi, Jussi Ruokomäki, Richard Lyne, and Werner Jeanrond.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

C. S. Lewis , Collected Letters (ed. Walter Hooper ; 3 vols.; London: HarperCollins, 2000–2006) 2:153

Jason Lepojärvi , “Does Eros Seek Happiness? A Critical Analysis of C. S. Lewis's Reply to Anders Nygren,” Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophi 53 (2011) 208–24

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Harvard Theological Review
  • ISSN: 0017-8160
  • EISSN: 1475-4517
  • URL: /core/journals/harvard-theological-review
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