Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2011

Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)

Degree In

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Cates, Diana Fritz

First Committee Member

Curley, Melissa

Second Committee Member

Schlütter, Morten


In Works of Love (Kjerlighedens Gjerninger) Søren Kierkegaard contrasts two seemingly opposing forms of love. One, "preferential" love, primarily includes the love found in friendships and romances. The other, "non-preferential" or "neighbor love," is associated with Christian agape love. Some interpreters believe Kierkegaard's clear support of neighbor love as the "higher" form of love reveals an incompatibility between preferential relationships, like friendship, and universal Christian love. This reading imagines an "either/or" in which a person is forced to choose between Christian faith on one hand, and friendship/erotic love on the other. The objective of this paper is to argue against such an interpretation and to demonstrate that preferential love understood in the context of neighbor love is endorsed by Kierkegaard himself. A comparison of his thought to that of Robert O. Johann and an analysis both the social and religious context in which Works of Love was written will shed light on the rhetorical strategies at work and reveal the nature of the love that Kierkegaard promotes.


agape, christian, friendship, kierkegaard, love


iii, 100 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 99-100).


Copyright 2011 John Haman

Included in

Religion Commons