Nikolaos Matsoukas, “The problem of evil. Essay on Patristic Theology”, Scientific Year book of the Theological Faculty, Annex 22 of the 20th Volume, Thessaloniki 1976, pages 291.
This is a theological essay, which hermeneutically analyzes the problem of evil on the basis of the hagiographic and patristic facts and their spirit. According to the author, the analysis and examination of the problem of evil can not take place in one area of dogmatic teaching and one section of philosophy, because it is a central and many-sided issue. From a theological point of view, it should be examined on the basis of the whole dogmatic teaching of the Church.
After a short prologue follows an Introduction, where Nikolaos Matsoukas refers to the concepts of good and evil and defines their meaning. Good is what preserves, develops and promotes life, while evil is what destroys and at any time can threaten the preservation, development and promotion of life. The author analyzes the problematic not only of theology, but of other modern scientific fields, such as sociology, psychology, biology and physics.
In the first chapter, the author deals with the concepts of creation and nothingness (zero). The correlation of creation and nothingness takes place in the Christian cosmology. Nothingness is non-existence, while God is the source of every power and reality. The author recognizes the fact that a biblical analysis of the terms leads automatically to an encounter with the views of philosophy, which he analyzes extensively. Additionally, the creative movement and victory against nothingness can not be successfully interpreted, according to the author, without examining the complex problem of human freedom. Next, he presents some forms of modern demonization, which, in his opinion, abolish life itself and lead to nihilism.
In the second chapter of his essay, the author deals with death. In the first unit, he examines the danger of the annihilation of the person, in the second, the concepts of pain and fear and, finally, immortality, the way it is perceived in the Christian tradition and in philosophical thought.
In the third chapter of the research, eros is presented as the other pole of human life. The two poles of human life are death and eros, nothingness and perfection, annihilation and rising on personal and social level. In the first unit, eros is examined as instinct and fulfillment of life. In the second unit, there is an analysis of the demonic and angelic element in the concept of eros and in the third, the relation of love and marriage.
The topic of the next chapter is sin and guilt. The sense of sin is mainly theological, expressing the will of man to become equal to God, similar to Him and not “in His own image”. How anomie is perceived in the Christian tradition, as well as the issue of guilt and punishment concern the author in the following units.
In the fifth chapter the author deals with the issue of hell, the need of mankind to be healed, the judgment and the theories about the restoration of everything.
In the sixth, seventh and eighth chapter the author deals with the ethical, social and aesthetic life, the way these are perceived in the patristic teaching and thought, meeting and conversing with philosophy and the other social sciences at many points.
The last chapter presents the views of the philosophy of religion and the Christian apologetic on the problem of evil, as well as the flubs of the latter on the issue.
The paper ends with conclusions, a summary in German and a table of contents.