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Maciej NOWAK – On Kerygmatic Literary Criticism, Unenthusiastically

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The present article undertakes a critique of the kerygmatic approach to the interpretation of literary works developed by Marian Maciejewski in the context of the so-called Lublin school of research on the sacred in literature, of which the publications of Stefan Sawicki and Maria Jasińska-Wojtkowska are the most representative. The idea of kerygmatic literary criticism originated among members of the Neocatechumenal Way, who believe that the spiritual formation it offers is the decisive factor in the development of a “particular hermeneutic disposition.” Scholars who have not received this kind of formation are thus considered as incapable of using the method advanced by Maciejewski or the continuators of his thought. Such an approach implies a conscious, deliberate and methodically advanced exclusivism of this hermeneutic method. Unlike Jasińska and Sawicki, Maciejewski does not put forward a new critical approach to texts which refer to the sacred; rather, he designs a particular way of reading such texts, which has practical implications. Thus the critical works in this intellectual current show a pragmatic bias. The kerygmatic approach to literary studies may be considered as a variant of identity-based criticism with its main objective to create and cement together the community of ‘preachers’ and ‘seminarians.’ Consequently, unlike the literary critics who explore motifs of the scared in literary works in order to pursue purely cognitive objectives and do not aspire to transgress the boundaries of literary studies, the critics from the school of kerygmatic criticism focus on their pragmatic goals and boldly enter the territory of catechesis, pastoral guidance and theology. Kerygmatic criticism must not be perceived as an approach to the research on the relation between literature and religion, the field of literary scholarship which has significantly developed in Poland. The main reason for this thesis is that kerygmatic criticism is not focused on cognitive objectives; rather, it pursues practical goals set by the Neocatechumenal Way. The author holds that there are no rational reasons why this approach to literary criticism should be adopted by university scholars dealing with literary studies and described as providing possible means to explore the relations obtaining between literature and religion.

Translated by Dorota Chabrajska

Keywords: literary criticism, research on the sacred in literary works, religious inspiration in literary criticism

Institute of Research on Religious Literature,
John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin,
Al. Racławickie 14, 20-950 Lublin, Poland
E-mail: macnowak@kul.lublin.pl
Phone: +48 81 5321139

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  1. ISSN 0860-8024
  2. e-ISSN 2720-5355
  3. The Republic of Poland Ministry of Science and Higher Education Value: 100.00
  4. Quarterly “Ethos” is indexed by the following databases: EBSCO, CEEOL, Index Copernicus (ICV 2017: 55.26), Philosopher’s Index, ERIH Plus.
  5. DOI Prefix 10.12887