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Works of Love (Kierkegaard's Writings, Volume 16)

4.38 of 5 stars 4.38  ·  rating details  ·  906 ratings  ·  76 reviews

The various kinds and conditions of love are a common theme for Kierkegaard, beginning with his early Either/Or, through "The Diary of the Seducer" and Judge William's eulogy on married love, to his last work, on the changelessness of God's love. Works of Love, the midpoint in the series, is also the monumental high point, because of its penetrating, illuminating analysis

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Paperback, 576 pages
Published March 23rd 1998 by Princeton University Press (first published 1847)
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Mere Christianity by C.S. LewisInstitutes of the Christian Religion, 2 Vols by John CalvinThe Screwtape Letters by C.S. LewisKnowing God by J.I. PackerCrazy Love by Francis Chan
Top 25 Christian Thinkers
46th out of 176 books — 73 voters
Mere Christianity by C.S. LewisInstitutes of the Christian Religion, 2 Vols by John CalvinSystematic Theology by Wayne A. GrudemConfessions by Augustine of HippoFear and Trembling by Søren Kierkegaard
Top 50 Seminary Books
24th out of 102 books — 29 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,454)
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Xandri Fiori
Always with philosophy, it's so easy to become contracted into the box of what the individual is capable of and to ignore the social aspect. What with everybody being in deep erotic love with Nietzsche, Christianity gets a bad rap. Granted, I only read this because Kierkegaard was an existentialist. But I honestly have grown to love him more than any other philosopher because he answers the question of other people. In my experience, most other philosophers are too scared to ask this question, m ...more
David Lentz
In his genius Kierkegaard wants us to know that by “works of love” he is describing the rigor of being a loving Christian. Kierkegaard advises that God wants us to love our neighbors, which Kierkegaard considers God’s “royal law.” Kierkegaard stresses this point three times with the emphasis on three different points: YOU shall love your neighbor. You SHALL LOVE your neighbor. You shall love YOUR NEIGHBOR. But who is your neighbor? Your neighbor is anyone whom you see. Your neighbor lives next t ...more
Sarah
I am usually an avid highlighter but the first essay from this collection had me so stunned with its relevancy to all of the things that had been knocking about in my head and heart for the past year or so*** that I didn't bother having a highlighter in my hand at any point in time that I was reading this book. Had I done so, I would have ended up with more text highlighted than not highlighted.

***I am admittedly all of these things: already a fan of Kierkegaard, already religious, and OK with
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Dana
This book is certainly a long laborious read. However, I was able to push my way through it fairly quickly because all the ideas were so novel to me. I have not ventured very far into the theological realm, but this book breathes some seriously fresh and insightful life into the idea of "Loving thy neighbour as thyself." It also explores many different consequences and viewpoints of this idea.

I would recommend this book highly to anyone wishing to improve themselves and their relationships with
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Bill
Christian theology at its best. It is written philosophically, so anyone who is interested in philosophy, particularly existentialism, will enjoy it. I think anyone can find inspiration in the book, including people who aren't Christians.
Daniel
I finished Kierkegaard's text yesterday (Valentine's Day), the forwards today . . . if you care to know.

Though only about 350 pages, Works of Love is not easy reading. Well, I suppose it's easy in a way. There aren't many difficult concepts to grasp and in that way it's certainly not like The Concept of Anxiety. But the work seems long because Kierkegaard belabours certain points, points he no doubt believes essential, such as the neighbour, the difference between Christian and pagan love, and G
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Beatrice
A book so soft and delicate and tolerant and close to my heart, that I find it difficult to externalize any sort of detail about it. A book that has confirmed and reinforced my most ardent belief, the element that I appreciate the most when it comes to human relationships/interaction: the most important and the most beautiful thing that a human being can have/give is their heart ('the highest good is to love, then that of being loved').

Kierkegaard encourages us gently ('gently' being of high imp
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Fariba
Works of Love, along with its companion Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing, is one of Kierkegaard's best works. Although this direct discourse is linguistically a lot easier to read than his pseudonymous works, it is (with respect to content) one of his most challenging pieces. The thesis is that it is a duty to love your neighbor. Throughout the 360 page book, Kierkegaard argues that the only disinterested and selfless form of love is love of neighbor. All other forms of love (erotic, friends ...more
BHodges
"...the task is not: to find the lovable object; but the task is: to find the object already given or chosen--lovable, and to be able to continue finding him lovable, no matter how he becomes changed" (158).
Ellen
Kierkegaard expounds on the Christian idea of love, explaining exactly why love, in the Christian sense, has always been, and will remain, a grave offense to the world. Kierkegaard does not have an idea of love that is caressing or coddling; it contains "a sadness which broods over life and is tempered by the eternal." I found the chapters "Love is a Fulfilling of the Law" and "Love is a Matter of Conscience" to be especially enlightening. There was even some humor, though never snide or sarcast ...more
The Chestertonian (Sarah G)
A series of profound meditations on Christian love. If you never in your life read anything else by Kierkegaard, you should read this book. And then read it again.
Bob
Works of Love is a searching exploration of the distinctive and demanding character of Christian love. It is not a "feel good" book but one that might leave you wondering whether you really have loved at all, or loved well.

Kierkegaard begins with the paradox of love's character as both hidden and yet bearing fruit in works of love. He then explores the great command to love neighbor as oneself. He plumbs the challenges of loving a neighbor in all the ways we love ourselves, and the fact that it
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JP Martinez
Greatest Book I have ever Read.

Before anyone gets into a relationship of any kind, it would be imperative that they read this book with someone they love and talk about what it means for them to continue loving each other.
Jonathan
This book is phenomenal. Everyone should read it who needs to learn how to love others...and that's everyone. My favorite chapters are "Love Hopes All Things" and "Love Believes All Things". READ THIS BOOK!
J. Mulrooney
There are two Kierkegaards: the philosophical Kierkegaard of "Concluding Unscientific Postscript", "Philosophical Fragments" and others; and the more accessible, devotional Kierkegaard of the upbuilding discourses, "Purity of Heart is To Will One Thing", and this one, "Works of Love."

He's a terrific writer, but (in the philosophical works) a terrific pain in the butt -- always distancing himself from what he's saying. 'I didn't write this, these are the papers of A, found in an old desk'. Or he
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Erwet Sie
One of the most beautiful books I've read in my entire life. This book is novel, provocative and revolutionary. It's strenuous but gentle and mild at the same time. Kierkegaard breathes a new life to many Christian teachings most notably "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39) which becomes the center piece of this book. If you think that Christian teaching has to be dogmatic, inflexible or forceful, try reading this book and you might be proven wrong. Such a beautiful book, n ...more
Harry
Wow. Where to begin? Heavy stuff here, mostly on what it means to love from a Christian perspective.

I'll admit that it took me something like three years to read this book. I would start, get busy with something else, put it down, and start over again, fearful that I would miss something that was predicated on something discussed beforehand. The payoff is worth it though; by the end of the book I was ready to live my life differently than I had before. I'm not saying this book has made me perfec
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Jacki
It has been 10 long months digging through this book. I didn't want to rush through it (even if I could), but I never expected it to take this long.

I don't know if I should blame Kierkegaard or the translators for how difficult the reading was. Nothing was worded simply, and I'm not referring to how complex the philosophical ideas were behind the words. The philosophical complexities were a whole different matter. But the sentence structure and wording were never plain or simple, which made eve
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Trilok
It's a convoluted and slow read, but considering that the whole book is written on the idea of Love as Kierkegaard intreprets Love in "Love thy neighbor as thyself", what else would you expect? Granted it's a non classical interpretation, but a lot of it could be summed up in a few pages, but as with any books on Philosophy, the point needs to be belabored.
While I do not agree with Kierkegaard, his religious ideals are based on being a better human being (as ordered by "God"), rather than focu
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Stephen
It has taken me nearly five years to finish this masterful work - five years of progress that has been at times painstaking or halting, with several resolutions part-way through to just start over again at the beginning to build up momentum. Now, looking back on it as a whole, I can say confidently that this is a book to which I will be returning over and over again in my life, to draw inspiration and encouragement from Kierkegaard's meditations on this most important topic. I do not agree with ...more
Dan Dark
Jun 12, 2007 Dan Dark rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Humanists, idealistic Christians, philosophy majors
A lengthy collection of works by Soren Kierkegaard on one topic, love. However in true philosophic fashion the tangential discussions uncover a deeper meaning behind the love humans are capable of the the love received from a loving God. It was particularly difficult for me to wrap my head around and I often had to re-read chapters and take notes in the margins. But I have always felt that reading something in the limits of your comprehension gives you an intimate relationship with the work as y ...more
Emi
Totally profound. Never read the unpacking of 'love your neighbour' like this before.
Equality is loving your neighbour, he says, without distinction.
Ronnie Cohen
It'll be a sad day, when I run out of new Soren Kierkegaard books to read. :)
Phil
In this book, Soren Kierkegaard very beautifully expounds upon Christian love, what it is and the various things that fall short of it. Its not an easy book to read because it sets a high standard for what it really means to live as Jesus commanded, and this constantly reminds the reader of how far short he falls (lots of Kierkegaard's books are like this). The first part focuses on "love your neighbor as yourself," while the second part explores the "love" chapter of Paul's first letter to the ...more
Austinsill
Far deeper than I can grasp. This book does more to transform than to inform. In fact, if one is informed by this book, he or she will realize with deep conviction, the truth that we are only truly informed of love insomuch as we have been transformed by it. Kierkegaard makes love, from a human view, seem impossible to achieve in truth... But in light of this, Kierkegaard teaches his reader that through self-renunciation and devotion to the eternal, an impossibly demanding love is made possible ...more
Travis Timmons
One of the books that deeply changed my life. Canonical for my soul.
Dallin Bruun
If you grew up in any religion, you might have been taught so many things that you lose touch with the core. Kierkegaard explores the Christian commandment "love thy neighbor" (in 600 pages!). I read the first chapter and——I feel like you are allotted a certain amount of times you can say this——it changed my life. Essentially, I felt I was given a definition and framework wherein I now understand love's role and potential in helping me be a better person. Thanks S.K!
Peter
"If only the final impression left by this book were not that of the detective skill with which non-Christian love is tracked down to its last hiding place, examined, shown to be worthless and haled before the judge.... It is hardly surprising, then, that for all its individual beauties his book assumes...the unlovely, inquisitorial and terribly judicial character which is so distinctive of Kierkegaard in general." Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, IV/2
John Lucy
Without doubt the best book on Christian living I've ever read. Sure, Kierkegaard is a philosopher, but he tries to dig deep into the heart of Christianity to find the best applications. If you aren't a fan of his pseudonymous writings, don't fret, this isn't one. Soren Aabye brings you through a journey of what it really means to love, that tricky four-letter word that we Christians use all the time and probably don't ever know what we mean by it.
Todd
From a Christian point of view, one can hardly think of a topic more important than agape. Yet we too often heap poetic notions onto it instead of seeing how radically different it is to our common understanding. This a profoundly dangerous book to shallow faith and charity. I stand before the command " thou shall"... With fear and trembling. Lord, draw me to Your love and send me out with Your love.
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Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was a prolific 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian. Kierkegaard strongly criticised both the Hegelianism of his time and what he saw as the empty formalities of the Church of Denmark. Much of his work deals with religious themes such as faith in God, the institution of the Christian Church, Christian ethics and theology, and the emotions and feelings of individua ...more
More about Søren Kierkegaard...
Fear and Trembling The Sickness Unto Death (Kierkegaard's Writings, Vol 19) Either/Or: A Fragment of Life Fear and Trembling/Repetition (Kierkegaard's Writings, Volume 6) The Seducer's Diary

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“With respect to love we speak continually about perfection and the perfect person. With respect to love Christianity also speaks continually about perfection and the perfect person. Alas, but we men talk about finding the perfect person in order to love him. Christianity speaks about being the perfect person who limitlessly loves the person he sees.” 17 likes
“Men think that it is impossible for a human being to love his enemies, for enemies are hardly able to endure the sight of one another. Well, then, shut your eyes--and your enemy looks just like your neighbor.” 10 likes
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