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The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute

ISSN: 2658-7599 (print)
2713-3141 (online)

Dehumanization as the key to a real understanding of the image of God

Katya Tolstaya, Doctor of Theology, Associate Professor, Faculty of Theology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Director Institute for the Academic Study of Eastern Christianity (INaSEC) (Amsterdam)
pp. 103–139
DOI: 10.25803/SFI.2019.30.34598
This article addresses the phenomenon of dehumanization in situations of extreme exhaustion, such as the dokhodyadi of the Gulag and the Muselmänner of Auschwitz. It explores this phenomenon as a challenge to post-traumatic studies in philosophy and theology, as well as to theological anthropology and specifically to the doctrine of the image of God in man, since “the Human in man” (Varlam Shalamov) is traditionally associated with the doctrine of the image of God.  
In recent years, interest in this doctrine has increased amongst Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox theologians, and in interdisciplinary research. In discussions between Western theologians and philosophers, the idea that the image of God can be isolated empirically, or is a specific qualitative (substantive) characteristic in man, is radically contested. The three modern interpretational models of man as an image of God (functional, relational and dynamic) are undermined by the testimony of victims testifying to the empirical reality of the loss of all human in man. They therefore fail to provide solid (theological) anthropology. I argue, on the contrary, that precisely because the testimonies describe the loss of what is traditionally understood as the image of God they paradoxically confirm the reality of God’s image. In this article I propose to revise the oldest, substantial model, based on the example of the anthropology of Maxim the Confessor.
Keywords: image of God, theological anthropology, dehumanization, Varlam Shalamov, Maxim the Confessor.

Last Issue2024. Volume 16. Issue 2 (50)

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