Steven Hansen

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2011


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Marie L. Baird

Committee Member

Aaron Mackler

Committee Member

William M. Wright


Deification, Hinton, Medicine, Pain, Redemption, Suffering


Hinton's theology of pain posits that an individual's suffering contributes to God's redemptive work in the world. This dissertation explores Hinton's theological appropriation of pain in four ways. First, we examine Hinton's life and writings to establish his personal interest about pain. Factors that contribute to Hinton's theological interest were the death of his brother, his sojourn in Whitechapel, his mental health, and his practice and skepticism of medicine. Second, we examine Hinton's redemptive nexus of suffering, beneficence, and deification in light of the Jewish and Christian traditions. While our exploration shows that the biblical tradition interweaves suffering, beneficence and deification, we also see that the biblical tradition adds elements that Hinton's treatment misses. The tradition shows that society also has an obligation to those who suffer. Suffering and wellbeing are ultimately social issues that require social, not simply personal, solutions. The serendipitous nature of suffering in the Hebrew bible fleshes out what in Hinton is simply an argument. In light of the serendipitous suffering in the Hebrew tradition, we examined participants in medical trials and the advancement of medicine as possible instances to bolster Hinton's theological nexus. The New Testament suggests that Hinton is too unidirectional in his understanding of the nexus of suffering, beneficence and deification. The New Testament places identification with Christ preeminently ahead of the suffering of the individual. Third, we explore the relevance of Hinton's thinking about pain in his contemporary setting in light of the philosophical, theological, and scientific developments in the nineteenth century. Hinton's metaphysical speculations bridge theology to Darwin's theory of evolution. Darwin was unable to connect Christianity to his thinking about natural selection because of his acceptance of ideas within natural theology. Hinton's metaphysical conceptualization allows him to reject natural theology while embracing the Darwinian revolution from a Christian perspective. Finally, we explore modern pain theories and the literature on the role of religious coping on pain and illness to see if Hinton's theology of pain remains intelligible. The modern medical and social science literature sustains Hinton's basic premise that theological outlook can influence one's tolerance of pain.