Imago Dei and the earthly life : the theological anthropology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.


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This dissertation offers a theological anthropology in light of the doctrine of imago Dei and the importance of place for our understanding of human identity. Through reading the early writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in historical context, this dissertation shows how he provides resources we need to think through an anthropology that properly attends to the vital role relations between the self, the neighbor, and creation play in our being made in the image of God. Specifically, what Bonhoeffer offers us is an account of bodily life wherein our unique and distinct identity as embodied creature made in the image of God is given to us by God through our neighbor in the body of Christ. When we understand our identity as something we receive through our neighbors and through the body of Christ, the importance of place as the historical landscape in which we encounter our neighbor comes into clearer focus. Therefore, how we inhabit place is constitutive for making sense of our bodies: what they are and what they are for. Bonhoeffer shows us that to be imago Dei is a form of being that draws us through—and not around or away from—earthly life, and all that earthly life entails: suffering, fear, joy, sin, and love. This passage through earthly life is marked by the act of confession. Confession returns us to our neighbor, and to the love located at the cross of Christ. Through this cruciform love, we come to have a profound love for the earth: not only by virtue of an eschatological vision of the world as it should be, but also a love for the world even as it is now.



Bonhoeffer. Theological anthropology.