Imago verweven met zelfkennis en godskennis: Het augustijns tegoed in postmoderne tijden

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This article tries to reconstruct the contributions of Augustinian spirituality – both in the orders and in literature – to theology. Its approach is not merely historical. Attention is also paid to its current contributions, now that postmodernity has been setting the tone for some decades. Starting with Augustine himself, we find that although to him God is rationally unattainable and unknowable, the concept of ‘imago’ does offer a chance of real knowledge. However, during the Middle Ages, his strict doctrine of grace proved to be a problem, and his concept of ‘imago’ suffered as a consequence. Gregory of Rimini tried to fully maintain the anti-Pelagianism and yet to do justice to the rational approach of the late scholastics. This resulted in a further accentuation of the doctrine of grace and pre-destination, at the expense of the concept of ‘imago’. Augustinian spirituality is narrowed to a very particular trace of grace. The unknowability of God now becomes rooted in a destructive use of grace. In that sense, this nominalism is a true precursor of postmodernism. However, in Foucault, postmodernism finds a different, non-destructive approach, as he is interested in the transformation the subject has to undergo in order to attain self-knowledge. This means that it will have to examine itself and try to form an image of what the self is, and that can only take place after the subject itself has undergone a transformation that is the essence of all spirituality, according to Foucault. This is a clear reference to Augustinian spirituality, which also employs a fertile triangle of ‘real-ratio-image’. The breadth of Augustinian spirituality and its central role for the concept of ‘imago’ are therefore a key part of theology in the postmodern era.
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)326-343
Number of pages18
JournalTijdschrift voor Theologie
Issue number4
Early online date22 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

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