Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The nature & understanding of 'person' in Christian tradition

H/T: Symposium

Part 1

Part 2

Theotokos Institute for Catholic Studies - TICStalks are free public lectures delivered by staff members of the Theotokos Institute for Catholic Studies in partnership with universities around the UK.

ABSTRACT: More often than not, we take what it is to be a human being for granted. Yet understanding who we are and what we exist for is a task that neither philosophy nor science have yet exhausted. Religions, on the other hand, and Christianity more specifically, point the way forward with some confidence. Indeed, the Christian theological tradition has wrestled with, and gone some way toward answering, the question as to what humanity and its purpose is since the emergence of the Church in the first century. From a Christian point of view, however, there are two possible places to start when talking about the human person: with what we know about people, or with what we know about God, and it is for this reason that the theologian most naturally turns to the story of salvation such as it is recounted across the Scriptures. In the salvation story – that is, in the story of humankind’s interaction with God across time – humanity is depicted as the beloved crown of creation; a fallen creature; a patient in need of healing; a healed, liberated, and adopted creature; and finally, as a creature destined for immortality. And central to this story is the agent by which all salvation is effected: Jesus Christ. As such, this talk will seek to draw its audience through eight centuries of thought on the work of Christ, by reviewing the examples of five Fathers of the Church and the way they construed the mission of the Second Person of the Trinity. It will be suggested that at the heart of patristic soteriology is the Pauline notion of recapitulation, especially as envisaged and transmitted by Irenaeus of Lyons. Finding concise expression in what Norman Russell calls ‘the exchange formula’ – that is, that God became human in order that humans might become divine – this would be deployed repeatedly after the second century, leading ultimately to a more developed doctrine of deification (theosis). That such an idea of exchange would influence everything from exegesis to hymnody is a testimony to its power over the patristic imagination. That it also did so in various regional contexts such as the Roman, Antiochene, Alexandrian, and Syriac, recommends its genuinely ecumenical appeal.

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