What Does It Mean to Be Human? Exploring the Christian Doctrine of Humanity
But what does the Bible say about what it means to be human? What can the Bible and Christian doctrine show us about humanity’s importance in context of God’s full creation? To answer these questions we can turn to the task of theological anthropology, and a new book collecting essays from the January 2018 Los Angeles Theology Conference offers guidance for our task.
Representing the proceedings of the sixth annual conference, the book The Christian Doctrine of Humanity (edited by Oliver D. Crisp and Fred Sanders) constructively and comprehensively engages the task of theological anthropology by offering a slate of voices. These voices give…
What is Christological Anthropology?
Although Christians have answered that “Jesus reveals what it means to be human,” this orthodox truism isn’t all that helpful. That’s what theologian Marc Cortez concluded when he started reading in theological anthropology:
I was struck by how often I would encounter [this claim] with little or no explanation of what such a statement means or how it should inform our understanding of specific issues in anthropology. (18)
His new book ReSourcing Theological Anthropology addresses that lack by offering an account of why theological anthropology must begin with Christology, centered around three key questions:
Why should we think that Christology is fundamental for understanding anthropology? What are the theological issues involved in making that claim?…
Karl Barth on Mind, Body, and a Christological Anthropology
Two theories have generally explained our ontological construction: one argues we are dually composed of separate “body” and “soul” pieces; the other says the person is strictly a material unity. Theologians of all stripes have offered similar theories, yet one stands above the fold given his decidedly christological orientation.
“Few thinkers in the history of the church have pursued a christological anthropology with greater rigor than displayed in Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics,” Marc Cortez explains in his new book Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective. “Barth demonstrates how this christological orientation reshapes how we understand specific issues like relationality, ontology, and temporality.” (141)
In his approach to the body/mind relationship, Barth argued they “can only be rightly understood from a christological perspective…” (142) In a clear, logical,…
[Common Places]: Christological Anthropology: An Interview with Marc Cortez
For the concluding post on christological anthropology, we offer an interview with Marc to further explore some questions and issues related to his recent book Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective: Ancient and Contemporary Approaches to Theological Anthropology (Zondervan Academic).
What is a “christological anthropology”?
I explored a few ways of defining this in the book. From one perspective, almost all Christian anthropologies are “christological” in the sense that we think Jesus was fully human and is, therefore, relevant to understanding what it means to be human. We also have the imitatio Christi tradition, in which Jesus serves as an exemplar of a human life well lived, and the imago Dei discussions in which Christology often features prominently. So you could define the concept rather broadly and include many kinds of theological…
[Common Places]: Reading Notes: Christological Anthropology
Trying to identify the most significant works on christological anthropology can be a little tricky. On the one hand, since incarnation and atonement both involve some connection between Christology and anthropology, we should not be surprised to discover an almost countless number of works on the relationship between these two loci. Nearly all theological anthropologies draw on Christology at some point in their discussion of what it means to be human. If that’s all we mean by a christological anthropology, then it would seem that the following list should just include a few of the more influential theological anthropologies.
But that’s not quite what I have in mind when talking about specifically christological anthropologies. Instead, the label refers more to those anthropologies that draw on Christology to…
[Common Places]: Ecce Homo: A Christ-Shaped Vision of Ourselves
With this post we begin a new series attending to Marc Cortez’s Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective: Ancient and Contemporary Approaches to Theological Anthropology (Zondervan Academic). While other posts will follow in short order this month and next, we begin with a word of orientation from the author.
Looking down on this scarred and bleeding body, head adorned with thorns and body draped in purple, Pilate exclaimed, “Behold, the man” (ecce homo). But what did he see? Was it only a miserable example of a human life crushed by a fallen and jealous world? Or was there something more, something only vaguely glimpsed and inadequately understood?
At one level, Pilate’s statement was almost certainly intended to point out Jesus’ miserable condition, either to express pity for this poor figure of…
What Does It Mean for Anthropology to Be “Christological”? – An Excerpt from Christological Anthropology
We often hear humanity was and is perfected in Christ, but what do we mean by that? How did Christ’s divinity affect his, and our, humanity? To answer those questions, Marc Cortez looks to thinkers the likes of Martin Luther and Karl Barth and asks how they used Christology to inform their understanding of the human person.
In this excerpt today we watch Cortez set up the focus of the book. He says many agree that it is only through Christ that we understand who we are. Then Cortez calls for an “unpacking” of that statement, to discover specifically what and how that should be done.
Enjoy this excerpt from Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective, which is available to order from Zondervan Academic now.
Christian understanding of what it is to be human unfolds through shared engagement and meditation…
“What Does it Mean to Be Human?” Christological Anthropology Offers 7 Insights
King David dabbled in anthropological reflection when he penned Psalm 8. So did Paul, who answered our opening question christologically.
Marc Cortez traces the historical development of such thought in his new book Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective. As Cortez defines it:
The fundamental intuition of christological anthropology is that beliefs about the human person (anthropology) must be warranted in some way by beliefs about Jesus (christological). (20)
The scope of Cortez’s work is far more robust than typical treatments, going well beyond the pivot points of ethics and the imago Dei. Cortez offers seven insights into our beliefs about humanity in light of…