Reflection on Lewis and Patristic Anthropology

Our first text situates us in a cultural, intellectual setting characterized by what Lewis calls "the abolition of man." Our second text sets our own reflections on humanity in the tradition of theological anthropology in which voices such as Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Augustine are seminal. (Just how seminal you can appreciate as you begin working through Zizioulas, who could conceiveably retitle Burns' volume The Foundation of Man.)

Both of these worlds are, in one sense or another, our own, as well as our Christian contemporaries' – including people who may need your help. Let's see if you can prepare a bit for such opportunities.

"The youth in adolescence," Zizioulas says (51 fn. 45), "in the very period in which he becomes conscious of his freedom, asks: 'and who consulted me when I was brought into the world?' Unconsciously he articulates the great theme of the ontological necessity which exists in the biological hypostasis."

Imagine yourself in a church context around adolescents. One comes to you with one of our culture's classic existential questions as it presses on him or her for some special personal reason. (Take your pick from the common ones around you, or think of a particular person who is confused, at either a conscious or unconscious level, about who he or she is.)

Use both of our first texts to inform a response (which may involve more than just a verbal answer!) to the youth's inquiry. Both the foundational material and the contemporary material should be shaping your thought. That does not mean you must agree with them, but your response should manifest prior substantive engagement with the material.

You can't go around quoting long passages of Irenaeus or even C.S. Lewis. Remember, this is an American adolescent you're talking to. You don't have to condescend, but consider your audience!

In footnotes, explain to me, lurking in the background, how you are drawing on the sources to develop your response.

Does this adolescent have to be someone else? I suppose you could fictionalize an earlier or even present version of yourself if you liked.

Please keep your paper 3-4 pages, double-spaced, and follow the directions in my handout for writing papers. Try not to use as many parenthetical constructions when you write as I do!

Remember, I want to see proper style, clear writing, a thorough answer to the question, and explicit citations of course materials.

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