Sunday, July 01, 2012

theology of divine supermodel by Gregory of Nyssa

IVP have released a new series, called Classics in Spiritual Formation. They are designed as introductions, for first time readers of the Church in history. They take the original languages (Greek and Latin) and seek to connect them with contemporary life. Last night I found myself reading Gregory of Nyssa: Sermons on the Beatitudes.

Yet God made us “in the image of God.” So indirectly we, who are created in the likeness of true blessedness, experience blessedness. Let me give you an example of what I’m trying to say. Take, for instance, the physical beauty of a supermodel captured on the cover of a women’s magazine. The real beauty is the supermodel herself. Yet, secondarily, we can attribute that same beauty to the photographic image. Likewise human beings are images of the transcendent blessedness, and similarily as copies we may be said to possess the same beauty when we display the features of blessedness. (24-25)

This is a fascinating bit of writing, for it images God in feminine terms – as a supermodel. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing recently about gender and faith development (here, here, here, here and my summary here). So it’s fascinating to find this, God as a supermodel.

The sermon is by Gregory of Nyssa, a 4th century bishop and theologian. He is highly regarded in the church for insights into the theological debates about Jesus Christ, one of the great defenders of trinitarian Christianity.

So were their supermodels and photographic images in Gregory’s day? No, which suggests the image of is introduced in the paraphrase by Michael Glerup, his desire to connect with contemporary life. So I need to whip off and check the original, as to how Gregory of Nyssa was imaging the divine.

But whether Gregory of Nyssa or Michael Glerup, what do you think of the image? What are the implications for gender and faith development if God is a supermodel and followers are copies of photographic images?

Posted by steve at 09:01 PM

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