1. bookVolume 20 (2022): Issue 3 (July 2022)
    A Multi-Angle Examination of C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces. Theological, Philosophical, Ethical, and Literary Insights from one of Lewis's Greatest Novels. Issue Editor: Zachary Breitenbach
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2284-7308
First Published
20 Sep 2012
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3 times per year
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English
access type Open Access

The Mystery of Grace: A Theological Reading of C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces

Published Online: 19 May 2022
Volume & Issue: Volume 20 (2022) - Issue 3 (July 2022)<br/>A Multi-Angle Examination of C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces. Theological, Philosophical, Ethical, and Literary Insights from one of Lewis's Greatest Novels. Issue Editor: Zachary Breitenbach
Page range: 91 - 107
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2284-7308
First Published
20 Sep 2012
Publication timeframe
3 times per year
Languages
English
Abstract

Till We Have Faces is profitably read at three levels: for its surface story, as a crime drama, and as an exploration of the theological mystery of grace. By transposing the myth of Psyche into the mystery genre, Lewis prepares the reader for Orual’s unreliability as a narrator and lures the reader into the novel’s theological depths. Part Two of the novel contains a series of visionary labors which Lewis borrows from Lucius Apuleius but recasts as feats achieved jointly by Orual and Psyche. The theological reading in this article finds textual support for rereading Part One of the novel as depicting Orual, by grace, unknowingly performing Psyche’s labors. Read thusly, the novel is a working out of Lewis’s belief that God can change the past—that grace can reach back into our histories and retell our story. By ascribing to the mutability of the past, Lewis sidesteps the dispute among various branches of Christianity over whether prevenient grace (the grace that pursues us prior to conversion) is both irresistible and salvific. An examination of four sources of grace in Orual’s life (love of beauty, love of wisdom, religious practice, and bereavement) reveals that what would have been common grace in her life becomes salvific as it leads to her redemption. This exposition also shows the novel’s indebtedness to the many classical Greek sources to which Lewis alludes within it, as well as its affinity with some of the ideas of Simone Weil.

Keywords

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