HW due 12/10: The Grand Inquisitor

1. The Grand Inquisitor–Read and annotate The Grand Inquisitor by Dostoyevsky! This is an excerpt from a much larger novel entitled The Brothers Karamazov. The excerpt is in your philosophy packet.

Helps to contextualize a bit.  The parable is an excerpt from one of Dostoyevsky’s greats, The Brothers Karamazov.

The Grand Inquisitor is a parable told by Ivan to Alyosha (two brothers) in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov (1879-1880). Ivan and Alyosha are brothers; Ivan questions the possibility of a personal, benevolent God and Alyosha is a novice monk.

The Grand Inquisitor is an important part of the novel and one of the best-known passages in modern literature because of its ideas about human nature and freedom, and because of its fundamental ambiguity.

The tale is told by Ivan with brief interruptive questions by Alyosha. In the tale, Christ comes back to earth in Seville at the time of the Inquisition. He performs a number of miracles (echoing miracles from the Gospels). The people recognize him and adore him, but he is arrested by Inquisition leaders and sentenced to be burnt to death the next day. The Grand Inquisitor visits him in his cell to tell him that the Church no longer needs him. The main portion of the text is the Inquisitor explaining to Jesus why his return would interfere with the mission of the church.

The Inquisitor frames his denunciation of Jesus around the three questions Satan asked Jesus during the temptation of Christ in the desert. These three are the temptation to turn stones into bread, the temptation to cast Himself from the Temple and be saved by the angels, and the temptation to rule over all the kingdoms of the world. The Inquisitor states that Jesus rejected these three temptations in favor of freedom, but thinks that Jesus has misjudged human nature. He does not believe that the vast majority of humanity can handle the freedom which Jesus has given them. Thus, he implies that Jesus, in giving humans freedom to choose, has excluded the majority of humanity from redemption and doomed it to suffer. (Wiki)

Read closely so that you can discern the narrative within the narrative.  If you are confused please email me so that I can be of further assistance.

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