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PhD Dissertation – The University of Chicago Divinity School

The following is Doug’s Dissertation submitted to and accepted by The Divinity School of The University of Chicago in 1983.  The doctoral adviser was Prof. Paul Ricoeur, and the readers were Profs. David Tracy and Langdon Gilkey.

If one’s intellectual life is an odyssey, it would be a shock to look back over thirty-plus years at this dissertation to find myself entirely in agreement with everything in it.  I am by no means shocked.  However, back then I had the “clever” idea that one can establish a parallel between the “metaphor” that functions “at the level of the sentence” and the “symbol” that functions “at the level of the narrative.”  I have since followed Langdon Gilkey’s wise advice to read Ernst Cassirer’s corpus, especially his Philosophie der symbolischen Formen, to learn that I was addressing only a segment of symbols, that is, religious symbols.  In most circumstances, I would be now more comfortable were the reader to substitute “religious symbol” wherever “symbol” occurs. I was unable to find a publisher for this early work (I couldn’t even get a publisher to send it out to readers) so that I am posting it here.  Although I have some reservations, I am arrogant enough to believe that there are elements here that justify its being accessible on-line.

Creative Commons License
On the Soteriological Sitnificance of the Symbol of the Kingdom of God in the Language of the Historical Jesus by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Title Page

Table of Contents



Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Selected Bibliography

A Poem – September 26, 2013

Laws both Physical and Moral
September 26, 2013

Empiricism:  When the physical world slips through one’s fingers
It is easiest to grasp at universals
In which one cannot put one’s foot once

Rationalism:  Since universals are unseen
It is easiest to define faith
As belief in the eternality of this Logos

Skepticism:  When appearances shatter
Our world of substances and
Universals are un-provable because non-empirical and indefinable

Critical Realism screams:  At least we have formal certainties
Verifiable by transient material
That our certainties asymptotically approximate

Critical idealism:  Has no need of screaming since it speaks of
Necessary conditions that make skepticism possible
And focus shifts to certain capacities, not questionable contents

We live by faith not because we only think we know things or universals but
Because we can do things nature cannot
Yet true for all, we are alone with our responsibilities

There is nothing on earth or in heaven
To shore up our precarious position
Except our own a priori confidence in creative freedom and laws

Doug McGaughey