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DignityA History$
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Remy Debes

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199385997

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199385997.001.0001

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In the Image of God

In the Image of God

Human Dignity after the Fall

Chapter:
(p.73) Chapter 3 In the Image of God
Source:
Dignity
Author(s):

Bonnie Kent

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199385997.003.0005

Christian writings from late antiquity through the Middle Ages have much to say about the dignity of various beings but little to say about the dignity that all humans have simply because they are human. Few authors of the Latin West used the biblical account of creation to argue for the kind of human dignity we often hear about today. Why? This chapter argues that two factors do much to explain their silence. First, patristic and medieval authors believed that God made angels as well as humans in his image, so that humans were not the sole creatures endowed with understanding, will, and free choice. Second, most authors thought that human nature was badly deformed by the Fall and needed to be reformed in the likeness of Christ. They focused less on creation than salvation, an end they believed attainable only through the grace of baptism and God-given virtues.

Keywords:   dignitas, imago Dei, image of God, angels, original Sin, primacy of Christ, Augustine, Leo the Great, Peter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas

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