Subject to Death & Life

Paul Celan’s Todesfuge, J. S. Bach & the Passion of Christ

by Timothy A. Smith

Death is the intractable problem of the human condition, yet remedied by means of death, that is, the life-giving death of Christ. In his Confessions, Augustine writes:

How hast thou loved us, O good Father, that hast not spared thine only son, but hast delivered him unto death . . . even the death of the cross? He that was alone free among the dead, that had power to lay down his life, and power to take it up again: for us was he unto thee both . . .

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Timothy A. Smith is a professor of music theory at Northern Arizona University and the author of the Canons and Fugues of J. S. Bach website. He lives with his wife and the youngest of their three daughters in Flagstaff, where they are members of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany.

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