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Original Research

Religion without fear. Plutarch on superstition and Early Christian Literature

H-J Klauck

Verbum et Ecclesia; Skrif en Kerk: Vol 18, No 1 (1997), 111-126. doi: 10.4102/ve.v18i1.1128

Submitted: 19 July 1997
Published:  19 July 1997


After some introductory remarks on the role of fear in religious discourse. Plutarch’s treatise On Superstition is analysed according to its rhetorical outline. Questions of authenticity are discussed and answered by locating the essay in Plutarch’s early career. Then we ask for the place of “fear of God” in biblical teaching and theology, compare it to Plutarch and show some limits in Plutarch’s youthful thinking, which doesn't yet pay due respect to the life values of myth. We conclude with two New Testament passages, Romans 8:15, masterfully interpreted by Martin Luther, and 1 John 4:17f excellently explained by 20th century’s Swiss theologian and psychologian Oskar Pfister, and we show that these texts are propagating “belief without fear”.

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Author affiliations

H-J Klauck, Universität Würzburg, Germany



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ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

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