Kierkegaard's various series of what he called ‘Upbuilding Discourses’ form a significant part of his authorship and one which he took very seriously. Later readers, however, seduced by the literary and philosophical virtuosity of his pseudonymous words, have tended to neglect them, a balance which is now, happily, to some extent being redressed.
In this paper, my aim is to open up questions rather than to provide answers. I want to concentrate on the title itself: Upbuilding Discourses. My main question is: why does Kierkegaard opt for this particular designation for this part of his authorship and what are the implications of this? I want to suggest that the root of this choice of title lies in his engagement with St Paul and that Paul is a more significant, and unsettling, presence in these works than is at first apparent—as he is, I would contend, in the authorship as a whole. In these early discourses, Paul acts as Kierkegaard's prime example of the upbuilding, but in a way that Paul might well have taken issue with.
It is surprising, even astonishing, how little work there has been on Kierkegaard's relationship to Paul, an observation also made by Lori Unger Brandt in her contribution on Paul to the Kierkegaard Sources and Resources volume on the New Testament. Her article is easily the most comprehensive treatment of this important relationship that has been produced to date.