The Son Bore the Wood

Such irony of the Aeneid – which shows man, who thinks he knows things, to be a counter in a game played out by fate or impersonal law or design – in a strange fashion presupposes the providence it denies. It is parasitic upon a suppressed belief in One who foresees.

For there either is a plan, or there is not. If there is not, then all man’s attempts to divine meaning in his history are vain. One irony of a flat and uninteresting sort pervades all: man thinks he knows, then learns that he knows nothing, if he can even be said to learn that.

Yet hidden deep within a belief in a disillusioning fate is a belief that there ought to be a providence: that, despite all we see to the contrary, history ought to be a stage for justice, however dimly perceived and incomplete, and that man is made to know, however straitened that knowledge must he on this side of the grave.

Anthony Esolen shows how this irony is exemplified in the biblical story of the binding of Isaac and how the Bible introduces ironies that will build into the Christian vision of the world and the endless richness of the divine providence of God the Father. This is a great intro to understanding what makes a Christian literature and the Ironies of Faith (Esolen’s great book from which this reading selection comes from)

You can find it here:


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