Article Title

Brecht's Quarrel with God: From Anti-Theodicy to Eschatology


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,

and thou wilt not hear?

For the wicked surround the righteous,

so justice goes forth perverted.

Habakkuk 1.2, 4

The most important historical consequence of the disintegration of the Christian theodicy in the consciousness of Western man has...been the inauguration of an age of revolution. History and human actions in history have become the dominant instumentaliztion by which the nomization of suffering and evil is to be sought.

Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy

Why is malice well rewarded? Why do punishments await the good?

. . .

what's to be done?

Change human nature or - the world? Well: which?

Believe in bigger, better gods or - none?

Shen Te, in Brecht, The Good Woman of Setzuan

Berrtolt Brecht's acknowledgement that the Bible was the single book which had influenced him most has elicited from scholars several investigations into the nature of that influence on his work, particularly his style and use of Biblical sayings.1 Less attention has been given to the personal relationship to Christianity and its God reflected in his writing. In his later years as a dialectical materialist, Brecht took the position that the only significant religious questions had to do not with "the inner essence of religion, the existence of God," but with "the behavior of religious men, discourse about God."2 Yet many of his writings suggest that he found the existence and behavior of God a significant question indeed. And scrutiny of his total work reveals a persistent concern with what may be called the theodicy question, illustrated in its Biblical and Brechtian forms by the first and third quotations cited above as epigraphs.

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