Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Systematic Theology

First Advisor

Joel Okamoto

Scripture References in this Resource

Ephesians 6:20; Acts 26:6; Acts 26:24–32; Job 16:7–11; Ephesians 2:12; Job 21:7–9; Job 24:1; Romans 8:24–25; Matthew 7:12; 1 Corinthians 16:22; 2 Corinthians 1:20; Colossians 3:3; Philippians 2:6–11; James 2:19; Acts 26:23; Acts 3:25; Genesis 12:3; Romans 4:13; Acts 17:31; Matthew 28:20


Zeigler, Michael. W. “Christian Hope among Rivals: Life-Organizing Stories as Narrative Theodicies.” Ph.D. diss., Concordia Seminary, 2014. 270 pp.

This dissertation answers the following: How is Christian hope distinct from others? The answer given is that Christian hope is distinct from its rivals because it expects the God of Jesus to bring the world to conform to the word of the promise he made to Abraham. This answer arises from an approach to Christian eschatology that differs from what has become typical. Current studies in eschatology focus on an internal use attributes, that is, a use fitted for derivation and analysis of a complex whole. This study focuses on an external use, which is fitted for comparing one whole with another. I argue that Christian eschatology should be understood as discourse concerning the resolution of conflict within an all-encompassing plot. To do so, I draw on the consensus that Christian faith and practice can be accounted for by the notion of story.

The Christian hope arises from a life-organizing story. In a post-Constantinian context, the Christian story is told among many rivals. As stories that seek to organize life for their participants, they all begin with a declaration of what counts as “good” and what counts as “evil.” They proceed with a strategy to overcome “evil.” This strategy involves issuing speech acts which aim either to fit the word to the world or to fit the world to the word. The hoped-for end of these stories is either a new state of mind or a new state of the world. Thus, they exhibit an eschatology, understood as the resolution of conflict within a life-organizing plot. At the same time, these stories seek to justify their Authors, or agents of emplotment. In this sense, they are narrative theodicies. The storied hope of Christians arises from a peculiar narrative theodicy told among rivals. It is distinguished by the way it characterizes its conflict, or storied evil, as trust in authorities other than the God of Jesus. Furthermore, its difference is seen in how its story looks for final resolution in the Advent of Jesus, who will finally fit the world to match God’s promise to Abraham.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.