ANTHROPOMORPHISM

ANTHROPOMORPHISM. In its religious sense, the term refers to imagining God in human form and conceiving his actions ad extra on the basis of human experience. The concept involves an obvious ambivalence: on the one hand, since human beings can only know in a human way see Aug., Civ. Dei 16,6,1, anthropomorphism has a fundamentally positive sense; since, however, the person always risks forgetting the distance that separates divine realities from what is understood and said of them, anthropomorphism can also have a negative sense. This double sense is reflected in the language adopted by the Fathers on the theme. VAnqrwpomo,rfoj, avnqrwpoeidh,j and other similar words are used in both senses Lampe 139f., whereas avnqrwpomorfhtai, a term probably created by Origenist monks to brand their opponents who were too attached to the letter of the Bible, and later adopted by the Latins ThLL II1,164, is obviously negative. In the Fathers we meet both positive and negative senses, for reasons that lie in the Bible itself. In it we find themes, such as humanity as the image of God Gen 1:26 and Christ as image of the invisible God Col 1:15; 2 Cor 4:4, that provide the basis of a doctrine on the human means of knowing God. Other texts warn against any too-human, or even bodily, representation of God. Thus Jn 4:24: God is spirit, and all the passages that confirm the impossibility of seeing God, the ineffability of his name, the inaccessibility of his dwelling, etc. In the 2nd c. theological reflection on anthropomorphism was largely negative. Guided by biblical faith in a completely transcendent God, but also by the Hellenist polemic against pagan mythology see Philo of Alexandria, the apologists fought against the toohuman ideas of poytheism and idolatry RAC 1,449. But Origen, faced with the errors of his time, and esp. because Celsus had used a method like that of the apologists to criticize the anthropomorphic language of the Bible, was led to work out a positive theory of anthropomorphism, regarding both knowledge of God in general Princ. I,1,7 including the spiritual senses and biblical hermeneutics Princ. IV, 2-3: see Crouzel, SC 269, 1738. He justified the theory based on the divine condescension that culminates in the kenosis of the Word Jo 6,5,29. He offered some provisos, however: confirming that Gen 1:26 refers to God’s image in the soul, he ruled out any bodily representation of God Cels. 6,63; Hom. in Gen. 1,13; Sel. in Gen.: PG 12, 93-96; against Melito, etc. and insisted on the need to go beyond carnal knowledge of God to reach a spiritual knowledge of him. He thus developed a mainly spiritual exegesis, though not without using Hellenistic methods G- gler, Theologie. The position he took against both the simple and Marcionites remained decisive for the whole of patristics, including Latin. During the 4th c., however, strong opposition to Origenist exegesis arose in certain monastic circles, whom Origen’s adherents called anthropomorphitae. The rejection of allegorism is explained in part as a criticism of Evagrius of Pontus’s doctrine of pure prayer Guillaumont, Kephalaia Gnostica. It appeared esp. in the disputes between John of Jerusalem and Epiphanius Jerome, C. Joh. 11 and between Theophilus of Alexandria and the Origenist monks Guillaumont, op. cit., 59ff., with sources, in Cyril of Alexandria’s Adv. Anthropomorphitas CPG III, 5383 and in John Cassian Coll. X, 2f.. The anthropomorphite monks should not be confused with the so-called Audiani a confusion probably due to Augustine Haer. 50; RAC 1,450, who also mentions the anthropomorphites elsewhere Ep. 148,4,13; Epist. fund. 23,25. Finally, two further developments of anthropomorphism are noteworthy: in the East, arguments used in the 4th- and 8th-c. iconoclast controversies recall the same theology of God’s image disputed in the conflict between simple and allegorizers; and in the West Augustine, while rejecting the anthropomorphites and any bodily knowledge of God, developed his famous psychological theory of the Trinity. Going beyond the vestigia and similitudines in creation and in human interior life, he finally sees in the triad of memoria Dei, intellegentia Dei, amor in Deum the most perfect image of the Christian God Trin. 14. Also noteworthy is Augustine’s reflection on the Bible’s anthropomorphic language Trin. 1,1,2. G. van der Leeuw, Anthropomorphismus: RAC I, 446-450; H.C. Puech, Audianer: RAC I, 910-915; W. Schneemelcher, Epiphanius: RAC 5, 909-927; A. Favale, Teofilo di Alessandria, Turin 1958; A. Guillaumont, Les Kephalaia Gnostica d’Evagre le Pontique, Paris 1962; R. Ggler, Zur Theologie des biblischen Wortes bei Origenes, D¼sseldorf 1963; HWP 1 1971 376-378; J.N.D. Kelly, Jerome, London 1975; C. von Schnborn, L’ic´ne du Christ, Fribourg 2 1976; RGG4 1 1998 524-529, esp. 527f.; B. Studer, Zur Bedeutung der heiligen Schrift in Augustin’s De Trinitate: Augustinianum 42 2002 127-147, esp. 144f.Anthropomorphism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia holidaymapq

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