Anyone failing to work through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is therefore determined to be destined for hell, simply because he did not work through the accepted channels. This assumption has been heavily questioned by the intelligentsia of various ages, though, as the directives in the Bible and the legends proposed by the Catholic Church continued to be at cross-purposes to themselves and as science and technology provided more concrete and reliable solutions to age-old problems in other arenas. This form of questioning the true nature of redemption can be found at the beginning of the nineteenth century with the publication of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s epic poem Faust as well as in the twentieth century with T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland.
Goethe’s poem was published in two parts, the first appearing in 1808 and the sequel not being completed until just before the poet’s death in 1832. While there have been many interpretations of the basic storyline over time, including several circulating well before Goethe adopted it, Goethe’s Faust is presented as a character seeking fulfillment in terms of finding absolute truth and the meaning of existence as opposed to the more typical representation of a self-absorbed scholar interested only in increasing his own power. While Goethe’s character retains the sense of the dissatisfied scholar, he also demonstrates the higher existential longings of the new age of science and intellectualism. His dissatisfaction is illustrated upon his first introduction in the poem: “I have, alas! Philosophy, / Medicine, Jurisprudence too, / And to my cost Theology, / With ardent labour, studied through. / And here I stand, with all my lore, / Poor feel, no wiser than before.” While he has spent his life educating himself and others in every possible field of knowledge, Faust still finds he is no wiser than