Anthropology: Seeking Light and Beauty

Anthropology: Seeking Light and Beauty

by Susan A. Ross


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Drawing on the wisdom and teaching experience of highly respected theologians, the Engaging Theology series builds a firm foundation for graduate study and other ministry formation programs. Each of the six volumes—Scripture, Jesus, God, Discipleship, Anthropology, and Church—is concerned with retrieving, carefully evaluating, and constructively interpreting the Christian tradition. Comprehensive in scope and accessibly written, these volumes, used together or independently, will stimulate rich theological reflection and discussion. More important, the series will create and sustain the passion of the next generation of theologians and church leaders.

What does it mean to be human in the twenty-first century? Susan Ross explores this question through the lens of human desires: for God, freedom, knowledge, love, and pleasure, but also for power, consumer goods, self-gratification, and money. Beginning with biblical narratives of human desires, she goes on to consider how ancient, medieval, and modern thinkers have wrestled with the various ways that human beings have sought fulfillment in the world and in God.

The twenty-first century brings new questions and continuing challenges:

    In a world of increasing complexity and fragmentation, can we still talk about the self?
    How have feminism and new thinking about sexuality changed the ways we think about ourselves?
    How do we maintain our humanity in the face of monstrous human evil?
    What do the findings of science say about our uniqueness as human beings?

Anthropology: Seeking Light and Beauty offers a path through the many conflicting views of humanity, suggesting a fuller way of living as we try to follow the example of Jesus.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814659946
Publisher: Liturgical Press, The
Publication date: 05/15/2012
Series: Engaging Theology
Pages: 184
Sales rank: 846,544
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Susan A. Ross is a professor and chair of the theology department at Loyola University Chicago. She is a vice-president and member of the Board of Editors of Concilium, the international theological journal. She is the author of Extravagant Affections: A Feminist Sacramental Theology (1998) and For the Beauty of the Earth: Women, Sacramentality, and Justice (2006).

Table of Contents

Editor's Preface ix

Preface and Acknowledgments xi

Chapter 1 Ancient Resources on Being Human 1

Biblical Resources 1

Interpreting the Bible 1

Some Biblical Narratives 4

Jesus as Exemplar 9

Paul 12

Early Christianity on Being Human 13

Gnosticism, Irenaeus, and Early Christian Martyrs 14

Asceticism 16

Platonism and Origen 19

Augustine 20

Conclusion 24

Chapter 2 Resources from the Medieval and Reformation Periods 27

Medieval Thought 27

Monasticism and Learning 27

Monasticism and Living One's Faith 32

The Desire for God 33

Scholasticism and Thomas Aquinas 36

The Reformation 39

Martin Luther 40

John Calvin 42

The Council of Trent 44

Women in the Reformation 45

Conclusion 46

Chapter 3 Resources from Modernity 47

The Desire for Knowledge 48

Descartes 49

Hume and Kant 51

Nineteenth-Century Developments 53

The Desire for Freedom 56

Slaves, Women, and Personhood 57

The "Masters of Suspicion" 61

Karl Marx 61

Sigmund Freud 62

Conclusion / Twentieth-Century Issues 65

Chapter 4 Christian Selfhood and Postmodernity 67

Characteristics of Postmodern Selfhood 69

Fragmentation and Plurality 69

Social and Historical Relativity 70

The Linguistic Turn 71

Otherness 72

Ambiguity 74

Christian Theological Engagement with Postmodernity 75

Edward Schillebeeckx and "Anthropological Constants" 76

Jan-Olav Henriksen and the Other 78

Karl Rahner and the Desire for God 81

Concluding Reflections on the Postmodern Self 83

Chapter 5 The Beauty of Embodiment: Body and Sexuality 85

The Body 87

Sex 94

Sex and Traditional Catholic Theology 94

Sexuality and Contemporary Theological Anthropology 98

The Theology of the Body 99

Margaret Farley and "Just Love" 102

Sex and Sexual Variation 104

Conclusion 104

Chapter 6 The Human Capacity for Evil and the Hope for Salvation 109

The Human Capacity for and Propensity to Evil 111

Human Beings, the Sciences, and Evil 112

René Girard's Theory of Violence and Mimetic Desire 114

Understanding the Perpetrators of Evil 116

Victims of Evil 123

Trauma Victims 124

Social Trauma 127

Witnesses to Evil 130

Chapter 7 Theology, Science, and Human Personhood 133

What Makes Us the Imago Dei? 135

Animals and Human Beings 139

Human Beings and the World around Us 141

Neuroscience and the Human 144

Technology, Medicine, and the Human Person 148

Conclusion 152

Conclusion: Seeking Light and Beauty 155

Index 163

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