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The meaning of technology: A theology of technique in Jacques Ellul

, West Virginia University, United States

Doctor of Education, West Virginia University . Awarded


Although Jacques Ellul is well known in both theological and sociological circles, his work has rarely been examined as a dialectical whole. Examining four seminal works, this study elucidates and discusses the relationship between the sociological reality of technique and the theological truth of the Bible as found in Ellul.

First of all, this study asks what are the theological and sociological characterizations made by Ellul in The Technological Society, The Technological System, The Meaning of the City, and Apocalypse ? Second, in what way do those characterizations ‘fit together,’ i.e., follow the dialectical structure of point and counterpoint, question and answer? Third, what meaning may be extracted through a sustained analysis and juxtaposition of Ellul's theological and sociological works?

This study found an explicit connection between Ellul's characterization of technique and the Bible as follows: (1) The character, growth and spread of technique correspond to the stories of Cain, Nimrod and Babel. (2) The biblical city of Babylon corresponds to the effects of technique, namely, the state, the economy, and human techniques. (3) Technological progress corresponds to the theological account of the Apocalypse. (4) Jesus Christ is the dialectical pole of technique.

As a result of the findings, this study makes four conclusions: (1) Technique is a spiritual project. (2) The rift between technique and God hinges on the metaphysical questions of imperative, mediation, determination, and discrimination. (3) Technological progress, though real, is not true. (4) Jesus Christ, as the opposite of technique, is the meaning of technology.


Dunham, P.L. The meaning of technology: A theology of technique in Jacques Ellul. Doctor of Education thesis, West Virginia University. Retrieved January 21, 2021 from .

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