Document Type


Publication Date



C. S. Lewis has serious disagreements with Anders Nygren’s theology of love. Several scholars have noticed the similarities between Nygren’s eros-love and Lewis’s concept of need-love. This article suggests, however, that need-love is not necessarily the closest equivalent in Lewis’s taxonomy to Nygren’s eros. The author argues that Lewis’s concept of Joy (or Sehnsucht) is a largely-overlooked contribution to “the Nygren debate,” and contrasts it with the three main features of Nygren’s eros. While encompassing many signature traits of eros, Joy manages to avoid many of its negative and excessive qualities. In Lewis’s theological vision, spiritual longing, far from jeopardizing the Gospel, is a God-given desire that prepares the way for it.


Accepted for publication by Harvard Theological Review.

Copyright by Cambridge University Press

Included in

Christianity Commons