Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love grapples with the same fundamental question that has vexed philosophers and theologians since the advent of monotheistic religion, and continues as a barrier to belief for many today. Namely, if God is so good, how can natural disaster, genocide, trauma – and my present suffering – occur? Historically, there have been two apparently very different approaches to the problem: the pastoral, or practical, on the one hand and the systematic on the other.
However, Richard Norton suggests that these two lines of thought may not be as separate as they seem, and may indeed be dependent on one another for their cohesion. Drawing on Julian’s medieval experience of personal and population-wide suffering, alongside that of more recent theologians such as Dorothy Solle and Jürgen Moltmann, Norton constructs a compassionate model of theodicy that can be of use to both pastoral and systematic theologians. Throughout, he remains sensitive to the raw atrocity of evil, while preserving a vision of God as the one who ensures that all shall be well.