Questioning the Human: Toward a Theological Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century

Questioning the Human: Toward a Theological Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century

Questioning the Human: Toward a Theological Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century

Questioning the Human: Toward a Theological Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century

Synopsis

Theological anthropology is being put to the test: in the face of contemporary developments in the spheres of culture, politics, and science, traditional perspectives on the human person are no longer adequate. Yet can theological anthropology move beyond its previously established categoriesand renew itself in relation to contemporary insights? The present collection of essays sets out to answer this question. Uniting Roman Catholic theologians from across the globe, it tackles from a theological perspective challenges related to the classical natural law tradition (part 1), to themodern conception of the subject (part 2), and to the postmodern awareness of diversity in a globalizing context (part 3). Its contributors share a fundamental methodological choice of a critical-constructive dialogue with contemporary culture, science, and philosophy.This collection integrates a wider range of approaches than one usually finds in theological volumes, bringing together experts in systematic theology and in theological ethics. Authors come from different American contexts, including Black and Latino, and from a European context that include both French and German. Moreover, the interdisciplinary insights upon which the different contributions draw stem from both the natural sciences (such as neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and ethology) and the humanities (such as cultural studies, philosophy, and hermeneutics).This volume will be essential reading for anyone seeking a state-of-the-art account of theological anthropology, of the uncertainties it is facing, and of the responses it is in the process of formulating. The shared Roman Catholic background of the authors of this collection makes this volume ahelpful complement to recent publications that predominantly represent views from other theological traditions.

Excerpt

Stephen J. Pope

There is no doubt that the human race, Homo sapiens, evolved from predecessor hominids around 200,000 to 150,000 years ago. We constitute one class among the great apes and have more genetic similarity to chimpanzees than chimpanzees have with orangutans. We are intelligent, groupliving animals. Like other primates, we have a sense of fairness, tend to prefer our own offspring and members of our own groups to outsiders, and generally pursue a policy of punishing cheats and cooperating with those who are trustworthy.

What does an evolutionary view of humanity imply for theology? If we were not created on the “sixth day,” does that also mean that we can no longer be considered, as Genesis proclaims, created in the “image and likeness of God” (1:26)? Does an evolutionary view of human origins also suggest that God is not the author of the moral law? What does an honest recognition of the evolutionary roots of morality imply about the longestablished Christian claim that God teaches in two “books”—the divine law revealed in scripture and the natural law discovered by reason? What, in short, is the status of the central Christian affirmation that humans are created in the “image of God?” Can we retain an account of the natural . . .

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