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The Origins of the English Edition of “God without the Idea of Evil”

In God without the Idea of Evil, well-known French Catholic theologian Jean-Miguel Garrigues, O.P., seeks to rise above the apparent contradiction of faith and the existence of evil, suffering, and death. Gregory Casprini, O.S.B., expertly translated this work from the French, making it available to an English-speaking audience for the first time. In the following guest post, Fr. Casprini provides some background on the origins of the English edition.

This translation of Fr. Jean-Miguel Garrigues’s God without the Idea of Evil represents the culmination of a journey that began more than forty years ago. Having been born and raised in New York, my native language is English. At age twenty-three, after my conversion and baptism, I entered the Benedictine Abbey of Solesmes in France and lived there for twenty-five years. In 1998 I was sent by Solesmes with other brothers to found a new monastery in Lithuania.

I first read Dieu sans idée du mal shorty after its publication in 1982. At the time I was studying for the priesthood at Solesmes, and the book, with its poetic meditations on Scripture, illustrated by two beautiful icons, helped me not only to grapple inwardly with the difficult problems relating to the existence of evil, human liberty, and God’s grace, but also and above all to discover how theology can become a beautiful road to contemplation and prayer.

It was twenty-five years later, in Lithuania, that I came across the second edition of Fr. Garrigues’s book. This new edition included supplementary explanations showing how the principal theme concerning the absolute innocence of God with regard to moral evil is firmly grounded in the speculative theology of St. Thomas. After an intensive study of the book, I was able to use is as the basis of a retreat given to religious communities of sisters in French, English, and Lithuanian.

In the meantime, I sent an email to Fr. Garrigues, whom I had never met, and was amazed to receive an immediate and very friendly reply. On my invitation he came to give conferences at our monastery in Lithuania. He, in turn, encouraged me to take part each year in his summer theology sessions in the south of France. I soon translated several of his articles or conferences destined for an American public, and little by little the idea of translating Dieu sans idée du mal was born.

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