Journal Article

Meditations on the Face in the Middle Ages (with Levinas and Picard)<sup>1</sup>

Michael Edward Moore

in Literature and Theology

Volume 24, issue 1, pages 19-37
Published in print March 2010 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online February 2010 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/frp056
Meditations on the Face in the Middle Ages (with Levinas and Picard)1

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Humankind was made in the image of God, according to the account in Genesis. This doctrine, expressing the true meaning of humanity, was obsessively explored in patristic and medieval theology. Emmanuel Levinas, who found in the human face a means to reorient philosophy and ethics, provides theoretical companionship to this age-old tradition. The visionary Max Picard, whose studies of the human face influenced Levinas, serves as a second voice in this conversation. During the Middle Ages, ancient theologies of the image of God gave rise to a humanistic appreciation of the human form, and realistic portraits and sculpture flourished. An echo of these traditions resounds in the philosophy of Levinas. His construction of a humanism of the other person had ancient and medieval roots. Because of his engagement with ancient tradition, the writings of Levinas resonate powerfully with the work of medieval artists such as Gerlachus, and theologians such as Nicholas of Cusa.

Journal Article.  9053 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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