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Document Details :
Title: Can Theosis Save 'Human Dignity'?
Subtitle: Chapters in Theological Anthopology East and West
Author(s): BRÜNING, Alfons
Journal: Journal of Eastern Christian Studies
Volume: 71 Issue: 3-4 Date: 2019
This introductory survey tries to identify possible contributions of Patristic concepts about human nature to current debates concerning the actual meaning of the term 'human dignity'. Eastern Orthodox theology, in particular in connection with 20th century’s 'neo-patristic renaissance', has offered concepts of personhood as a critical response to Western narratives about the emancipation of the human individual. Pure individualist concepts often, and in many respects have betrayed inherent weaknesses in modern debates. The current intellectual climate with its focus on normative anthropology appears to be favorable to the re-assessment of the value of the Father’s writings, but includes also certain temptations. Ancient Christian sources indeed do offer inspiring visions on human nature and destiny, but to make them fruitful for current debates requires certain hermeneutical operations to abstract from the specific historical and intellectual context from which these visions originate. As a thorough and critical examination of existing narratives concerning the genesis of 'human dignity' reveals, such operation is not carried out for the first time, but has been a trade-mark of all epochs now considered to be important steps on the path towards modern 'human dignity'. A review of existing studies about the adaptation of Patristic sources in these epochs forces to abandon stereotypical narratives of an East-West opposition expressed in antinomies like 'personhood' versus 'individual', 'religious' versus 'secular' and the like. Both East and West in fact engaged the Fathers, often in mutual inspiration, on a way to modern concepts of the human person and his or her 'dignity'.