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A New Book on Human Dignity

Imago Dei TalHowardWhat does it mean when we speak of human dignity? What challenges does human dignity confront in our culture today? What is the relationship between contemporary understandings of human dignity and the ancient Christian doctrine of imago Dei, the view that human beings are created in “the image and likeness of God”?

These are the questions that Thomas Albert Howard’s new edited volume Imago Dei: Human Dignity in Ecumenical Perspective, pose.  This new collection of three essays, with an introduction by Howard pursues:

these and related questions in the form of an ecumenical “trialogue” by leading scholars from the three major Christian traditions: John Behr from the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Russell Hittinger from the Catholic, and C. Ben Mitchell from the Protestant tradition. The book is the first of its kind to foster an ecumenical conversation around teachings of imago Dei and present-day understandings of human dignity. The three chapter-essays, the editor’s introduction, and the afterword by Lutheran theologian Gilbert Meilaender draw from a wide array of sources, including Scripture, patristic works, ancients creeds, medieval and Thomistic writings, papal encyclicals, Protestant confessional statements, the works of modern theologians, and more.

Imago Dei will serve as an indispensable resource for those wishing to deepen their grasp of the theological bases for Christian views of human dignity, as well as for those who believe that Christ’s words “that they be one” (John 17:21) remain a theological imperative today. The combination of ethical inquiry and ecumenical collaboration makes this timely book a unique and compelling contribution to present-day Christian thought.

This new collection comes out of a program that was partially funded by a grant from the Lilly Fellows Program in the Humanities and the Arts.  The contributors to this volume came together at Gordon College in April 2010 for a Regional Conference, which drew eighty individuals from thirteen colleges and universities attended the one-day event.  Imago Dei is available in paperback and ebook from The Catholic University Press. Go check it out now!

By Mary Beth Fraser Connolly

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