The Grand Inquisitor
The Grand Inquisitor is a chapter in Dostoyevsky’s classic novel “The Brothers Karamazov.” The Greater novel itself is a philosophical debate on God, free will, human nature and morality written by Dostoevsky over 2 years and published in 1880. As with all of Dostoyevsky’s novels it is set in a modernizing Russia and it is a deep psychological study of faith and reason as well as the doubt, psychology, moral decisions and thought processes that occur during man’s journey to enlightenment and greater awareness. Although The Brothers Karamazov itself is a work of art and one of the greatest novels ever written the true genius of “The Grand Inquisitor” is that it is a profound discussion on faith, reason and religion on its own. The chapter works as a synopsis of the greater novels philosophical questions . Although I have done a lot of thinking myself on the topics discussed in The Grand Inquisitor I have been especially moved during the reading of this chapter and in my opinion it is the most profound discussion of religious philosophy I have ever read. The Grand Inquisitor chapter is a parable told by Ivan to Alyosha. Alyosha is a novice monk and Ivan uses the parable in an attempt to explain why Ivan is an atheist. The chapter itself is set in the time of the Inquisition. A time in which the church held a level of extreme religious power over all people and the State. A time when many citizens were burnt alive for thinking or saying something different than the prevailing doctrine of the church. Imagine this for a second – you could be burnt alive and tortured just for using your own mind to think or for quationsing the prevailing doctrine of the times. The story unfolds this way with the Grand Inquisitor burning people alive for heresy, for questing god’s existence or anything else that was forbidden by the church. In the middle of this Jesus shows up and performs a few miracles.