Biblical and dogmatic theology on personhood

suti-0000014Application to Africa’s milieu

Authored by: Namakula Evelyn B. Mayanja

The Routledge Handbook of African Theology

Print publication date:  June  2020
Online publication date:  May  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138092303
eBook ISBN: 9781315107561
Adobe ISBN:


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Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Who is the other person? Who is a human person? What is it to be human? When does personhood begin? What is the destiny of a human person? What should the person do to achieve that destiny? These are primordial questions asked by philosophers, theologians, psychologists, and a social anthropologist, among others. The personal and interpersonal contexts of personhood are associated with existential and relational realities. Every human being comes into existence at a certain point in time, lives in a state of flux in relationships with others, and dies without certainty about the final destination. There is a human personhood characteristic to every human species, but also the personhood beyond the “bodily” being. A Christian view of the fall of the human person from Grace or sin complicates personhood further. Should we conceptualize personhood from the sinful nature or as restored personhood redeemed by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection? The struggle of wanting to do good and instead of doing the opposite is real. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Rm. 7:5). The shift in perceptions, debates, confusions, and conflicts around personhood abound. Theologizing is a faith search to understand God, 1 but also the search to understand self in relationship with God, others, and the entire creation. Humans and creation are groaning as we wait for our redemption and conceptualization of the fullness of our personhood (Rm. 21–23). From the onset, we discover that personhood entails a human and divine mystery.

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