|GraduateTheology:: Interpretation 59.4||[Changes] [Calendar] [Search] [Index]|
"The claim of the Priestly writers that the Creator made human beings in the divine image is both audacious and ambiguous. Assuming that among other things 'image' means that human beings are able to enter into relationship with God and God's creatures, the concept.. suggests that the Old testament view of human nature is far more positive than our dour stress on human sinfulness led us to imagine."
"The image of God in the New Testament represents a mix of traditions from the Hebrew Bible, early Judaism, and Hellenistic popular philosophy. Throughout these traditions the theme is integally connected to the search for meaning in human existence... Study of the theme provides a window into early Christian experience and how such experience emboldened Christians to follow Jesus in the proclamation of the Kingdom of God."
"Our theological pictures of God, the world, and ourselves sometimes change in order to take account of scientific findings, ideas, and beliefs. How might they alter in response to recent ideas about the cosmos and the place of humans in it?"
Ottati makes the claim that "Christian theology is the refelctive attempt to picture or envision ourselves, as well as the many objects and others with which we interact, in relation to the God disclosed in Jesus Christ. It is the reflective attempt to articulate a Christian worldview in the service of life and faith" . Ottati raises the question in light of this claim to the perceptions we have of space and time. Early Christians (and others) framed the cosmos as a "three-level" realm of Heaven, Earth, and Hell. Time was seen in light of the Biblical testimony, and significant taxonomic differences were drawn between "humanity" and the other residents of the planet.
More recently, however, these assumptions have been supplanted in many ways by the assumptions of scientific research. The universe, time, and the essence of 'humanity' are all re-described according to measurable and observable scientific data. This fact prompts Ottati to raise some significant theological questions. "We seem chronocally to assume we are at the center of things, and our perception seems partly due to our finite perceptual judgement" . Our knowledge, re-oriented towards the scientific, belies any claim that the vast cosmos is but the theatre of our relationship to and redemption by God, claims Ottati. We might need an 'alternative theological vision.'
Ottati posits the 'theatrical' metaphor that life on Earth is but on 'stage' among many 'stages' throughout the cosmos - some of which have active, vibrant dramas and others more akin to Warhol's "Empire State" movie. Ottati sees us as having our 'place and time' in the hopes of 'a good run' .
Ottati jumps from the de-centralization of the human drama in the cosmos to the de-centralization of the Christian witness as the means of salvation "since this affirmation clearly leaves the overwhelming preponderance of the cosmos out in the cold" . The cosmos is not the theater of human drama, but rather of "God's glory".
Ottati appeals at last to Psalm 8 ("When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers..."). What he gives us, finally, is a non-conclusion. He points us to the wonder that is at the root of our being-human. The piece overall, then, is an exercise in destablization of former Christian 'certainties' in favor of present scientific modalities. We can 'wonder,' but we cannot know.
"Amidst Nazi persecution, Edith Stein discovered in the biblical images of God a mystical path of identity formation leading to a transformative union with Christ... Stein's last writings suggest a contemporary way to recover the formative link between biblical images of the divine as objects of spiritual exegesis... and the revelation of the
in the individual person..."
Edith Stein was a close reader of both St. John of the Cross and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, and this essay serves both as an overview of her work and a lens through which one can see parallels with these latter writers.
Picking up on two central themes in John - the Cross and the Night - Stein re-imagines a decidedly non-individualist model for the human self that is both refelctive and interactive with the
Played out against the backdrop of Nazi persecution, where the state attempted to define her as "non-Aryan," Stein's quiet insistence is that it is ultimately only God who can name the self in its true fulness, over against any other attempt to do so .
This naming, for Stein, arises in no small part from a certain encounter with the scriptures. This encounter, keying off Dionysius, is mystical. To read scripture properly demands a counter-indivuidualist empathy . "Such empathy with the other's divine experience cannot substitute for one's own, root experience, but it can extend and enrich it" .
Overall, this essay is useful for the introduction of Stein and her model of the self - a model which rings a common chord with other writers of contemporary note, including Martin Buber and Karl Barth.
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