Kathryn Tanner and Gregory of Nyssa on the mystery of the human person

Whatever the knowable dimensions of human nature, its apophatic ones are what count here for imaging of God. An apophatically-focused anthropology forms the natural consequences of an apophatic theology. If humans are the image of God they must be, as Gregory of Nyssa affirms, an incomprehensible image of the incomprehensible: ‘If, while the archetype transcends comprehension, the nature of the image were comprehended, the contrary character of the attributes…would prove the defect of th eimage….Since the nature of our mind…evades our knowledge, it has an accurate resemblance to the superior nature, figuring by its unkowableness the incomprehensible nature.”

Kathryn Tanner, Christ the Key (Cambridge, 2010), pp. 53-54

About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on December 9, 2010, in Anthropology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. If true, what does this do towards developing a theological anthropology?

    • She doesn’t think this means we can’t do theological anthropology, that’s actually a strong area of emphasis for her, but she does think we need to recognize the “mystery” of the human person that comes from the fact that human existence is ultimately grounded in grace and centered in Christ. So, we can understand ourselves to an extent, but the reality of the human always transcends what we think we know.

      • Sounds good, Marc! I really need to read some Tanner. Thanks. In fact I really like the sound of “grounded in grace and centered in Christ.” Ah, the reading of many books, there is no end! 🙂 Thank you, Marc for adding to my reading (burden) list 😉 .

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