Enlarging Justice: Miroslav Volf's Theology of Embrace and the Problem of Justice in Post-conflict Bosnia and Croatia
Willis, Bethan Sian
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis seeks to develop an enlarged understanding of justice which reduces future conflict rather than feeding it and which seeks to ground human practices and notions of justice more firmly in divine justice. At the heart of this project is Miroslav Volf’s theology of embrace. The thesis attempts to question what this theology offers to the present day context of Croatia and Bosnia from which it emerged in the 1990s. Firstly, I draw on field work and NGO work to suggest that justice is a pressing issue in post-conflict Bosnia and Croatia, and that current approaches to justice are problematic. I draw on Volf’s work to assess the key problems and suggest that turning to his eschatological vision of justice may provide fruitful answers as to how justice should be pursued for the future. Secondly, I suggest that identity needs to be reconfigured in order that justice might be pursued. I suggest that this should occur along the lines of Volf’s understanding of identity as embrace. Identities can be reconfigured through enlarged thinking. Seeking to shape the other and for the other to shape the self is key to pursuing justice collaboratively. Thirdly, I address the theological roots of Volf’s work in examining the Trinity. I suggest that Volf’s work can offer an understanding of the Trinity which has significant implications for the pursuit of justice. I read Volf’s work as allowing for a sense of justice residing within the Trinity. I seek to draw out the ways in which human life can image the triune life of justice and the parameters of this mirroring. Finally, I propose that the type of justice I have suggested, in collaboration with Volf, means that the pursuit of justice should be centred on restoring right relationships, going beyond what is due and is a continuous process rather than discrete actions.
Arts and Humanities Research Council
Reed, Esther D
Doctor of Philosophy Theology