The Theological Origins of Humanism

Jens Zimmermann

in Humanism and Religion

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199697755
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738159 | DOI:
The Theological Origins of Humanism

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This chapter locates the origin of humanistic ideals in Christian anthropology, particularly the Christological interpretation of the imago Dei and traces the impact of this teaching from patristic through scholastic to Renaissance humanism. The Western ideals of a common humanity, of solidarity, of confidence in reason, of human progress, and of education as character formation emerge as Christian theologians adapt and wrestle with Greco-Roman thought. While none of these ideals would have come about without the participatory ontology of Neoplatonic thought, its adaptation in the development of Christian humanism is here portrayed as a generally faithful interpretation of biblical thought rather than a Hellenistic distortion (patristic humanism) or the antecedent of secular humanism (Renaissance philosophy). This chapter highlights the important natural link between consciousness and being provided by Platonic metaphysics, and that after its demise the subsequent development of humanism constitutes a series of attempts to maintain or repair this link without recourse to Christianity or metaphysics.

Keywords: theological anthropology; Christology; Neoplatonism; church fathers; medieval scholasticism; Renaissance humanism; rhetoric; education; Cusanus

Chapter.  33316 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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