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Living with Tiny AliensThe Image of God for the Anthropocene$
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Adam Pryor

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780823288311

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823288311.001.0001

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The imago Dei as a Refractive Symbol

The imago Dei as a Refractive Symbol

(p.62) Chapter 4 The imago Dei as a Refractive Symbol
Living with Tiny Aliens

Adam Pryor

Fordham University Press

This chapter focuses on two key themes constructive accounts of the imago Dei must address: the continuing relevance of the image/likeness distinction beyond its original exegetical framing and how what we mean by ‘image’ might be better theologically rendered as ‘symbol.’ Situating the doctrine in the wider biblical cosmogony from which it arises, while focusing on three historical theologians—Irenaeus, Augustine, and Schleiermacher—the chapter builds a case for what constitute inescapable elements of this symbol. Building on this historical recapitulation, it is argued that to be the image of God is to be a symbol of God: one who refracts the creative power of God evidenced in cosmogonies to facilitate the flourishing intra-action of living systems with the habitable environment. The consequence of this approach is that to be the imago Dei is not something properly ascribed to any individual organism as a marker of distinctiveness, but it describes a particular type of astrobiological intra-action that extends the creative power of the divine as a refraction, not merely a reflection.

Keywords:   Augustine, image, Irenaeus, likeness, reflection, refraction, Schleiermacher, Friedrich

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