The Dual-Functionality of the Imago Dei as Human Flourishing in the Church Fathers

Authored by: Fr. David Vincent Meconi

The Ashgate Research Companion to Theological Anthropology

Print publication date:  February  2015
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781472410931
eBook ISBN: 9781315613673
Adobe ISBN: 9781317041320


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In his attempt to locate a convergence between the divine Demiurge and the human soul, Plato exuberantly taught that when this father (πατήρ) of all saw how that which he brought into being was moving and alive, he rejoiced and was resolved to make the copy even more like its paradigmatic original . 1 Yet, the joy of the gods would need to overcome the vicissitudes of this world and the weakness of human dissimilitude. Since this visible and thus fluctuating order is contrary to the divine world—Socrates bemoans in the Theatetus—evils here necessarily haunt us. That is why Socrates next exhorts his interlocutor Theodorus that he must, “flee out of this world to the other, which means becoming like God in so far as one is able.” 2 In this Platonic view, the visible world is a faded copy of the model in which it necessarily participates; and while nowhere is the human person singled out explicitly as a divine image, Plato does see how the human capacity for divinity resides in the soul. The truest nature of the human psyche is accordingly actualized through godly mimesis, and it is Plato who establishes such concepts as divine similitude, homoiosis, and participation in God, as the means by which the human soul is finally fulfilled.

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