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Religion and Society

The primordial relationship between God and The Human Person in Catholicism and Islam

Card. Angelo Scola Patriarca di Venezia

1. The mutual interrelationship of human person and world



a) God or chance?


"The whole (to olon) is either God or chance (to eikèi); either way you too do not exist by chance"1. This observation by the fascinating figure of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, to whom the Nobel Prize Winner Marguerite Yourcenar devoted her unforgettable masterpiece, can be taken as emblematic of the position in which we post-moderns find ourselves, when we think the questions that never go away: "Where do I come from?" "Where am I going ?" "and I, what am I?"2.


The observation is made up of two parts. The first part seems suggestive of the aporetic dilemma that is of great relevance today: God or chance? The a fortiori conclusion of the philosopher emperor as stated in the second part, that either way you too do not exist by chance, seems to many today to be the only dignified and reasonable one.


Unlike what was the case prior to Kant, the anthropological and ethical dimensions of cosmology (today now inseparable from cosmography and cosmogony) now seem completely unthinkable. There is not thought to be any wisdom of the cosmos3, and the human person is considered to be immundum - without the world. What sense would there be to speak of "God" or of "chance"?


Abstracting from the hypotheses and arguments put forward on either side, even the occasionally bitter debate between evolutionists and defenders of intelligent design when examined closely - takes as central the problem whether cosmology still has an anthropological and ethical foundation.


"What we no longer know, is how it is morally good that there are human beings in the world; and, for example, why it is a good thing that they continue in being; does their existence merit the sacrifice it costs? In the biosphere, to their parents, to themselves?"4.


b) The wisdom of the world


We need to be aware that this is the context in which representatives of the religions are called to speak of God and of a primordial relationship between Him and the human person. The first point to be made is that even if we conceded (which I do not) that a long time ago existence was the result of chance, today it most certainly is not.


Today, in fact, technology (which can in no way be assimilated to chance) is no longer merely that which permits us to live longer; for increasingly it is quite simply that which permits us to live. Our very existence depends to a great extent now on scientific knowledge and the technological domination of nature.


The question of meaning which Comte forbade us to ask re-surfaces inexorably, like those little clumps of grass that push through in the spring, even in the most desolate wastes.


There is no point in avoiding the question of the primordial relationship between God and the human person, but we do need to formulate it in realistic terms. This involves the re-thinking of the mutual interrelationship between the world and the human person, so as to recover the lost wisdom of the world. Cosmocentrism and anthropocentrism can no longer go their separate ways, still less can they be posed as alternatives, if we want to do justice in our thinking to the original relationship between God and the human person.


A world that is not situated on the side of the subject is not sufficiently worldly for us. Pascal gave us a reminder of that:


"To himself, everyone is a whole: once he is dead, everything is dead for him"5. What will allow us to restore their full meaning to basic expressions like "coming into the world" or "leaving the world"? Especially since the need to recover the world that has been lost with modernity and give back an anthropological and ethical foundation to the cosmological, is a need that has been urgently felt in contemporary thought, from Wittgenstein to Heidegger6.


I would like to suggest that religious experience, and the constant effort of reflection which that involves, constitutes a crucial element for the discovery of the new language in which to restate the necessary mutual interrelationship between the world and the human person.


2. Why creation?



It should not surprise us that the question under discussion (The primordial relationship between God and the human person) sends us directly back to the much more radical question, ancient and always new: Why does God create humankind as being-in-the-world when he has no need to? We are forced to ask this by the philosophical question par excellence: the very datum of elementary experience, which is constitutive of every person, obliges us to recognise that although we are limited (I am, but I could also not be), our reason is open to the limitless. It is this distinctio realis that is at the origins of both the philosophical and the religious thought of humanity: beings are limited, being is not7.


How to bridge this primordial divergence?


We cannot at this point run through all the stages of western thought from Parmenides to now in order to resolve this question. Still less are we able to conduct a survey of the solutions put forward by the great religions, beginning with that of the ancient Egyptians and down to the approaches of buddhism, hinduism, confucianism, and other religions. We shall prescind therefore from the study of the option proposed by Jan Assman in his celebrated volume on Moses the Egyptian between monotheism or monism. It will be sufficient to recall, as has also been observed recently, that Christian monotheism to limit myself to the ambit that I know directly has been able to make space for fundamental elements of cosmotheism. The necessity referred to above of rethinking the wisdom of the world is an expression of this conviction. Among other things, it shows the unfoundedness of the thesis that unlike monistic religions in which God is "one and all", monotheistic religions are of themselves sources of violence8. Nor can we permit ourselves on the present occasion and in any case it would be presumptuous to pursue any sort of comparative study of the three religions improperly called religions of the book.


We shall limit ourselves to presenting a synthesis of the Christian answer to the question raised, in full awareness both of the cultural context and of the comparative dimension essential to interreligious dialogue on this crucial question. We will focus on the burning core of the evangelical proclamation in which we shall see how the primordial relationship between God and the human person is to be understood by the Christian.


3. Creation in Jesus Christ



The first chapter of the Letter to the Colossians proclaims that creation appears in all its meaning in Jesus Christ, the fullness of Revelation:"He is the image of the unseen God, the first-born of all creation, for in him (en auti) were created all things ... through him (di autou) and for him (eis auton). He exists before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Col 1,15-17).


This text affirms two elements that are crucial for our topic. a) the primacy of Jesus Christ in creation which b) derives from His role as mediator of creation.


a) The creative mediation of Jesus Christ


Creation - that is to say the action by which God brings into being humanity and the world, seen in differentiated continuity, and maintains them in relationship with Himself (creatio continua) - represents the solution put forward by Christianity to the original divergence between essences and being. Neither dualism nor monism, but the participation by the free initiative of God of a creature other than God in the being of God. But how and why does God remain God in creative action without undergoing falls, and even before that, why am I not God? Why does being exist and not nothing? To put it another way, in what sense is finitude something positive and creation an effective gift (grace) rather than a misfortune? The way to the reply to these dramatic questions is opened up for us first of all by the First Letter to the Corinthians 8,6, where it is stated that "for us there is only one God, the Father from whom all things come and for whom we exist, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom all things come and through whom we exist."


To this is connected the Letter to the Hebrews (Heb 1, 1-2), which re-interprets in Christological terms the biblical theme of the creative action of God, stating of the Son Jesus that he is the one who is "appointed heir of all things and through whom (di ou) he made the ages".


b) Creative mediation and divine sonship


The creative mediation of Christ is related to his divine sonship. This is confirmed not only by Paul (cf. Eph 1, 3-14, Col 1, 15-20), who speaks of the predestination of men to be sons of the Son Jesus Christ, but also by John in the Prologue to his gospel (John 1, 1-18). These texts clearly proclaim that Jesus Christ is the centre of the only historically existing "order", the order of Jesus Christ. This is the divine plan.


The New Testament therefore takes as a fundamental assumption the Genesis perspective of the covenant of the one God the creator, revealing his fullness. The light that the revelation of Jesus throws on creation allows us to state that He is not only its redeemer, but also the head of creation - to which he has a close causal relationship9. The Scriptures clearly show that the relationship between God and humankind acquires its concrete form in the historical figure of Jesus Christ10.


c) The "uniqueness" of Jesus Christ


The originality of the Christian revelation consists precisely in the fact that a unique event the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ represents the sole possibility for us to attain to our full realisation (eternal life). This is so because the humanity of Jesus Christ is the historic humanity, unique and unrepeatable (singular indeed!) of the Son of God11. The historicity of this event is not deducible from a general law (gnosis), still less is it due to some necessity internal to the global historical process, - not even one marked by a Hegelian speculative good Friday. Nor is it a contingent fact either. The story of the event of Jesus Christ is the precisely documented story of Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary. It is a historicity simultaneously unique and for always (efapax). Jesus Christ is the universal concretum et singulare12. Therefore he is the centre of the cosmos and of history13. The only Son is the mediator of creation by virtue of this his uniqueness, through which his being an event in history constitutes the sufficient manifestation and affirmation of God. This is the content confessed in the mystery (dogma) of the divine sonship of Jesus Christ.


Within the Christian horizon the subject of creation imposes the trinitarian conception of God, for a non-Trinitarian God could not have created. The creative mediation of Jesus Christ depends totally on the filial and trinitarian nature of his divinity, and it is exercised solely within the trinitarian relationship that constitutes him as Son from all eternity. For this reason the creative mediation of Jesus Christ reveals a constitutive nexus between creation and the trinitarian mystery of God14.


4. The trinitarian principle of creation




a) The uniqueness of Jesus and creation by the Deus Trinitas


The fundamental thesis of the trinitarian principle of creation has rarely been explicitly denied throughout the history of Christian thought, but for various reasons it has not always received the necessary attention16.


Let us now carefully consider the factors just mentioned. First of all the fact that the uniqueness of Jesus Christ implies His filial divinity and His full humanity. In second place the relationship between His uniqueness and His creative mediation. The Son in fact reveals His sonship, or his difference from the Father, precisely in the full humanity of Jesus; this sonship shows that the divine identity of Jesus mysteriously manifests the presence of an Other, generated from all eternity. Revelation thus shows that the assumption of created humanity by the Son is the only possible way of access to the mystery of the Deus Trinitas.


On the other hand, the creative mediation of Jesus Christ allows us to affirm that the reason for all divine communication ad extra, including creation, is to be found within the original trinitarian difference. If the Father gives himself wholly to the Son in the Spirit, the act of creation will then have to be understood as included in this trinitarian communication17: the Son being the image of the Father, he is consequently also the image of all that pours out via Him through the Spirit, and hence also of all the creatable18.


From this point of view the reasons why the human person and the world are distinct from God emerge from the consideration of the life that flows limitlessly within the Trinity itself: in the distinguishing of the eternal Son from the Father is also found the ontological foundation for the existence of the creature in its distinction from the Creator19.


b) Bonaventure and Aquinas


In this line is objectively placed the exemplarism of Bonaventure: "Necessarily, if there is the production of the un-like, the production of the like is preintended; which is manifested like this: the like is related to the unlike, as the same to the different, and the one to the many; but, necessarily, the same precedes the different, and the one precedes the many; so the production of the like also precedes the production of the unlike. But the creature is produced by the essere primo, and is unlike it; so, necessarily, the like is produced, which is God. [ ...] Likewise, the different does not issue from the eternal substance unless the substantially identical is produced. Therefore, in God the production of the same, of the equal, of the consubstantial, is prior to that of the unlike, of the unequal, of the essentially different"20.


In the light of these emphases we can understand the meaning of the exemplary relationship that the Angelic doctor discerns between the procession of the Persons and that of creatures, according to the expression (of which there were variants however) "oportet processionem personarum, quae perfecta est, esse causam et rationem processionis creaturae"21.


Even more important however is the thesis - present especially in the Quaestiones disputatae de Potentia Dei - of the objective unity of the potentia generandi and the potentia creandi22. "Sic ergo potentia generandi et creandi est una et eadem potentia, si consideretur id quod est potentia; differunt tamen secundum diversos respectus ad actos diversos".


This unity is sustained on the basis of the pure actuality of the divine essence, characterised by its drive to communicate itself and share itself: here the nexus between the trinitarian and creative being of God seems to be rooted in the very heart of his ontological constitution.


c) The newness of the Christian notion of creation


To affirm that the permanent intratrinitarian event explains all difference, including the full distinction between God and created reality, is to provide in synthesis an explanation of the ultimate root of the newness of the Christian notion of Creation.


It is important to note, incidentally, that this newness comes up against the crucial question for every human being and every culture, the question we raised at the start on the ultimate meaning and foundation of the real, that is on the original essences/being divergence. Through the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, the Christian revelation shows how the Christological principle and the trinitarian principle of Creation converge in a single theological figure. These two principles in fact represent the founding elements of a theology of creation which really wants to take on board the newness of the Christian Revelation.


5. The human person and his relationship with the creator God



a) "The Figure of the One who was to come"


Against this background the original pauline parallel between Christ and Adam stands out very strongly: Adam may be considered as having "pre-figured the One who was to come" (Rom 5, 14) only if the head (principle) of Creation is not Adam but Christ23.


This pauline affirmation is totally justified by the fact that in the intellectus fidei of Creation is revealed a dependence on the event of Christ, the Son of God made man. Revelation shows the raison d'être of the human person precisely in existing in Christ. Wanting to communicate to humanity all the meaning of created reality, God leads us to realise the nexus that exists between the creation of humankind and Jesus Christ.


b) Redemption: the completion of creation


Thus inserted into the salvific plan, creation explains the significance of the new person and correlatively of the new Creation in which the redemptive work of Christ in the historia salutis is concluded24.


In other words, we can say that for Paul creation finds its true completion in redemption. Thus we can look at the first and the new creation not as two realities following on each other mechanically, but as two mutually inclusive realities: the sécond takes up the first and displays its rationale. Of itself, the first could only remain incomplete and insufficiently intelligible. On the other hand, the historic-salvific trajectory develops according to a plan conceived "before the world was made" (Eph 1, 4), which is realised "when the times had run their course" (Eph 1, 10). Beginning from the new Creation, Christ is revealed as the Head of creation itself25, and the solidarity of Christ with all of us to the point of dying for us has its foundation in the creation of all of humanity in Christ26.


c) Dramatic anthropology


In the singular newness of Jesus Christ (Christian Revelation) the constitutive questions of anthropology (Who am I? Why am I one of soul and body, man and woman, individual and society?) find their adequate resolution. It is confirmed by the celebrated formulation of Vatican II which asserts the humanity of Jesus Christ as the perfect form of the human: "Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear" (GS 22)27. To the extent that the person is an I always in action who can raise the question about his essence only from within his existence (the issue of distinctio realis or ontological difference re-surfaces), every adequate anthropology is dramatic28.


6. Imago Dei and sonship



a) In His image because sons


In terms of the analysis set out here, we can then make sense of the primordial relationship between God and the human person according to Christianity. This is generally to be related to the great theme of the Genesis origin of the imago Dei, nourished by elements of which our synthesis provides an explanation. The contribution that the Christian theology of the imago Dei offers to anthropological reflection can be synthesised thus: what the Old Testament reveals about the unique nature received by the human creature by virtue of his particular relationship with God is perfectly defined as sonship in the event of Christ. The human being is therefore a creature willed to live as son of God, according to the "form" (figure) proper to the Only Son who is Jesus Christ29.


It is important to stress that the two notions of image and sonship are both utilised in Revelation within a profoundly unitary perspective, whether in reference to humankind or in reference to Jesus Christ. This observation is a precious aid in orienting anthropological reflection, which, though it has to take account of the constitutive polarities (soul/body, man/woman, individual/society) cannot however abandon the quest for a unitary comprehension of the whole human person.


b) Sonship and freedom


The reading of the imago in a Christological sense, which makes it coincide with the discovery that the Triune God calls us to be sons in the Son30, provides a sufficient explanation of the unique being proper to every person; for this sonship postulates the recognition of personal freedom as insuperable (un-transcendable) in each one of the individual's acts. Looking at the unique person of Jesus Christ, we see that He is himself insofar as he is wholly for another. He manifests in his free death on the cross (sponte: Anselm) the truth of God as in-separable from the decision of the freedom of the man Jesus of Nazareth31. From this is derived the fact that the freedom of this man is directly and intrinsically implied in the manifestation of the truth of God. Thus the event of Jesus Christ is redemptive inasmuch as it shows how we cannot attain to the truth of our own persons independently of the concrete historical exercise of our own freedom. We must positively decide to go out of ourselves if we are to comply with the divine initiative that calls us. The very fact that our wills are limitless while our power is limited, tells us that the ultimate nucleus of our subjectivity remains unreachable for us, so that when the event Christ is proposed to us completely gratuitously as résolutive of the enigma, we must involve ourselves as protagonists of our response to Him. Having analysed the content of the human person as free sonship, we can now conclude with two general remarks.


c) Vivens homo


In the first place we can understand that our adventure in search of the meaning of ourselves and of the world can never consist in a reply deducible from a theory: if it is in history that the incarnate Word reveals us fully to ourselves, we can attain to our ultimate substance only as experience in history. The celebrated expression of Irenaeus: «Gloria enim Dei vivens homo, vita autem hominis visio Dei»32 gives figurative expression to this datum. Only inasmuch as we are always in action (vivens) can we give glory to God or lead our own existence according to the pre-established plan of the Father, who made all things for His Glory - that is in Christ. Only in this perspective do we discover ourselves and the full significance of our existence and of the existence of the world in the good face of the Mystery (visio Dei) who created us so that we should be his sons in Christ.


d) Free indeed


In the second place we can understand that far from eliminating the drama in human existence, the "stabilisation" of the tensions constitutive of human beings that is realised in the Crucified Risen One, actually intensifies it; for the event of Jesus Christ reveals to us the supreme paradox of our existence. The truth of our lives hangs not just on the equilibrium of the different creaturely polarities we are surprised to find ourselves made up of, but also on the fact of having been willed and created by God to participate in the very life of the Triune God in the contingency of our existence.


All this the Father offers to the human person, to the inviolable mystery of his freedom and responsibility, calling for a personal decision on his part: awareness of this gift opens to the dramatic and mysterious awareness that each of our acts always involves the free affirmation of our own consciously willed destiny, or else its negation - which leads to the loss of ourselves in alienation from God himself33. Balthasar shrewdly observes that Jesus Christ resolves the enigma of humanity but does not pre-determine the drama of human life34. We never lose our individuality in the relationship between God and ourselves in Jesus Christ and none of our acts are taken away from us35: the human person is indeed free.


7. Creation and dialogue



a) The "why" of creation


Having completed this (admittedly rather limited) survey, we can now conclude by turning to the question we began with: why did God create human beings and the world when he did not need to? Why am I not God? Why is there something and not nothing?


In Christ Jesus we have been brought to see that in God lives the One, the Other, and the fruitful unity of the Two. The trinitarian mystery (dogma) tells us that God is love. If in God himself the Other finds a place, the Son, then creation can be thought36. We are not obliged to have recourse to an insuperable dualism nor to assume that the origin of the human person and the world lies in a pantheistic fall. Creation is God's gift of Himself, and by it God freely makes and maintains in existence beings that are distinct from Himself while leaving His imprint in everything. He thus gives life to the human person made in His image. "And since the Son is the eternal ikon of the Father He can assume in Himself without contradiction the image represented by the creature; purify it without eliminating it; introduce it into the communio of divine life"37.


b) The crucial instances of Israel and Islam


The two crucial instances of Israel and Islam actually provide permanent salutary references to the truth of Christian experience. Christianity says their two great yesses along with them: yes to the ineradicable distance between God and the creature constantly present in the Islamic faith and yes to the necessity that we welcome the free and gratuitous self-revelation of God in history and through history the diamantine nucleus of the Jewish faith. At no point does the Christian faith tolerate either an essential divinisation of the person or any substantial nullification of the creature. The instances of buddhism and hinduism and the ethics of confucianism and shintoism are also comprised in the Christian account. None of which is to deny the important differences established by Christianity both in regard to the two "monotheisms" precisely because the Christian monotheism is trinitarian and in regard to any other religious conception of humanity.


c) Faith in the crucified Innocent one, which liberates us


For all the passion generated by the arguments over content, which must abide by the principle of public debate that the one who explains more is more right there is no sign of any claim to domination such as might breed violence under any form whatsoever. On this point the proper relationship between reason, faith, and religion investigated so many times by Benedict XVI constitutes a precious guarantee38.


Christianity is faith in the crucified Innocent one. To this and this alone the Christian must testify in the face of the world, in the conviction that if in Jesus Christ he can catch a glimpse of the trinitarian face of God, it is only through the gift of faith and not through any form of gnosis. The Christian cannot give up on the comparison of content, but is well aware that testimony means communication from freedom to freedom. In interreligious dialogue, as in our relationships with all our brothers and sisters, we entrust ourselves to the God who guides history, remaining attentive to the circumstances and the relations weaving reality in order to grasp calls to the true, to the good and to the beautiful that God himself will want to communicate.


Christianity refers to this vision of love that loves first without asking anything in exchange, which loves at every moment as if it were the last - as evidenced by the One who, though innocent, allowed himself to be nailed to the ignominious wood of the cross while the Spirit held him united to the Father - to illustrate the relationship which links God to each individual human person from conception to natural death. When the Father creates us, He has before Him the perfect image of the human person: Jesus Christ dead and risen. The original act of love, which is the creation in Jesus Christ, does not stop even in the face of humanity's claim to be able to save itself (original sin). Jesus Christ, living and personal Truth, allows himself to be immolated by our finite freedom so that He can offer us redemption. In his love he cancels out our sin, and offers to our freedom - which must decide - the possibility of becoming a new creature. The human person and the world have a meaning. Finitude is not an evil, it is the place of the love that conquers death and opens to the for ever.




1. MARCUS AURELIUS, Meditations IV, 27


2. G. LEOPARDI, Canto notturno del pastore errante dell'Asia, v. 89.


3. Cf. R. BRAGUE, La saggezza del mondo. Storia dell'esperienza umana dell'universo, Rubbettino, Soveria Mannelli 2005.


4. Ibid., 334.


5. «Chacun est un tout à soi-même, car, lui mort, le tout est mort pour soi», Pensieri 139 (457 nell'edizione di Brunschvicg), in PASCAL, Pensieri, a cura di A. Bausola, Rusconi, Milano 1993, 99.


6. cf. BRAGUE, La saggezza, 345-348.


7. Cf. A. SCOLA G. MARENGO J. PRADES, La persona umana, Jaca Book, Milano 2000, 58-59; cf. H. U. VON BALTHASAR, La mia opera ed Epilogo, Jaca Book, Milano 1994, 88-89: «non c'è bisogno di dire che ogni filosofia umana (eccetto quella dell'ambito biblico e dell'ambito da essa influenzato) è nello stesso tempo essenzialmente religiosa e teologica, poiché pone una domanda dell'essere assoluto, sia esso pensato in categorie personali o meno () Nessuna filosofia potrà mai dare una risposta soddisfacente a questa domanda. Paolo dirà ai filosofi che Dio ha creato l'uomo perché cerchi il divino, si sforzi di raggiungerlo. Per questo ogni filosofia precristiana è al suo vertice teologica. Ed effettivamente la filosofia può avere una risposta autentica solo dall'essere stesso in quanto le si rivela. L'uomo sarà in grado di accogliere questa rivelazione? () Non si dà, quindi, mai teologia biblica senza filosofia religiosa. La ragione umana deve essere aperta all'infinito».


8. Cf. J. ASSMANN, Mosé l'egizio. Decifrazione di una traccia di memoria, Adelphi, Milano 2001. An interesting response to Assmann's thesis already studied by Joseph Ratzinger in: Fede, verità, tolleranza, in G. P. Milano E. W. Volonté (a cura di), Per una convivenza tra i popoli, Cantagalli, Siena, 2003, 111-134 it can be found in K. MUELLER, Dio fra monoteismo e monismo, in «Il Regno. Attualità» (2006) n. 18, 641-650. The now-famous speech of Benedict XVI at the University pf Regensburg has an indirect relevance to all of this.


9. Cf. G. BIFFI, Approccio al cristocentrismo, Jaca Book, Milano 1994; ID., Il primo e l'ultimo. Estremo invito al cristocentrismo, Piemme, Casale Monferrato 2003.


10. Gaudium et spes 22: "The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him who was to come (Rom 5, 14), namely, Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. It is not surprising, then, that in Him all the aforementioned truths find their root and attain their crown. He who is "the image of the invisible God" (Co1, 15) is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam he restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled, by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man."


11. «Il cristocentrismo connota propriamente la cristologia che ha per oggetto Gesù di Nazaret e che, presa nella sua intenzione più profonda, esprime la «singolarità» di Gesù. Ora tale singolarità di Gesù s'accorda propriamente con la rivelazione della Trinità, poiché essa si definisce, da un lato, mediante la relazione singolare di Gesù stesso con il Padre e con lo Spirito Santo e di conseguenza, dall'altro, mediante la condizione singolare secondo cui Gesù esiste con e per gli uomini», COMMISSIONE TEOLOGICA INTERNAZIONALE, Teologia - Cristologia - Antropologia, in «La Civiltà Cattolica» 134 (1983), I, 1.3, 53.


12. The expression comes from Nicolas of Cusa. On this topic see H. U. VON BALTHASAR, Gloria. Un'estetica teologica. Nello spazio della metafisica: l'epoca moderna 5, Jaca Book, Milano 19882, 187-223; ID., Teologica. Verità di Dio 2, Jaca Book, Milano 1990, 180-188.


13. Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Redemptor hominis 1: "The Redeemer of man, Jesus Christ, is the centre of the universe and of history"..


14. Cfr. A. GERKEN, Theologie des Wortes. Das Verhältnis von Schöpfung und Inkarnation bei Bonaventura, Düsseldorf 1963, 60. «L'unione in Cristo tra il cielo e la terra presuppone tuttavia come prima cosa la Trinità di Dio, giacché il Figlio sulla terra non può presentare la sua propria divinità (solo monofisiticamente lo si potrebbe pensare), bensì solo tradurre su piano temporale-creaturale il suo eterno rapporto col Padre», H. U. VON BALTHASAR, Teodrammatica. L'ultimo atto 5, Jaca Book, Milano 1986, 101.


15. Cf. What is said in A. SCOLA G. MARENGO J. PRADES, La persona umana, 78-86.


16. See a synthetic overview in W. KERN, La creazione come presupposto dell'Alleanza, in MS 4, 55-77; L. SCHEFFCZYK, Création et Providence, Paris 1967, 55-117.


17. Cf. H. U. VON BALTHASAR, Teodrammatica.5, 70.


18. ID., Teologica 2, 155: «Se nell'identità di Dio c'è l'Altro, che è inoltre immagine del Padre e in tal modo anche di tutto il creabile, se in questa identità c'è lo Spirito, amore libero traboccante dell'Uno e dell'Altro, allora l'altro della creazione, orientato secondo il modello del divino Altro, e il suo essere in genere che deve se stesso alla liberalità intradivina, viene spinto in un rapporto positivo con Dio, un rapporto che nessuna altra religione non cristiana può sognare».


19. Cf. BONAVENTURA DA BAGNOREGIO, Commentarium in I librum sententiarum, d. 7, dub. 2 [Quaracchi I, 113]; d. 31, p. 2, a. 1, q. 2 [Quaracchi I, 430-432]), already anticipated by Rupert of Deutz - cfr. RUPERT OF DEUTZ, De Trinitate et operibus eius, l. 1, cc. 2-3; PL 167, coll. 201-203. It can thus be maintained that «La differenza permanente di Gesù Uomo dal Dio eterno - e così pure dall'eterno Figlio - sta a significare in sostanza che il Figlio eterno non soltanto precede l'esistenza umana di Gesù, ma costituisce pure la ragione della sua esistenza creaturale. Al pari di tutte le creature anche l'esistenza di Gesù ha il suo fondamento in Dio, il Creatore del mondo. Ma diversificandosi e distinguendosi da Dio, questa esistenza si fonda sull'autodistinzione del Figlio eterno dal Padre. Così il Figlio eterno è la ragione ontologica dell'esistenza umana di Gesù nella sua relazione con Dio Padre. Ma se fin dall'eternità, quindi anche dalla creazione del mondo, il Padre non è mai senza Figlio, allora il Figlio eterno non è soltanto la ragione ontologica dell'esistenza di Gesù nella sua autodistinzione dal Padre quale unico Dio, ma anche la ragione della diversità e dell'esistenza autonoma di ogni realtà creaturale» W. PANNENBERG, Teologia sistematica 2, Queriniana, Brescia 1994, 34. See also G. GRESHAKE, Der dreieine Gott. Eine trinitarische Theologie, Freiburg-Basel-Wien 1997, 219-250.


20. BONAVENTURA, «De necessitate, si est productio dissimilis, praeintelligitur productio similis; quod sic patet: simile habet se ad dissimile, sicut idem ad diversum, sicut unum ad multa; sed de necessitate idem praecedit diversum, et unum multa: ergo productio similis productionem dissimilis. Sed creatura producitur a primo esse et est dissimilis: ergo de necessitate producitur simile, quod est Deus () ergo similiter a substantia aeterna non manat differens, nisi producatur substantialiter diem: ergo in Deo prius est productio similis, aequalis, consubtantialis quam dissimilis, inaequalis, essentialiter differentis», BONAVENTURA, Collationes in Hexaëmeron XI, 9, in ID, Sermone Teologici 1, ed. B. DE ARMELLADA, Città Nuova, Rome 1994, 218-221.


21. THOMAS AQUINAS, 1SN, d. 10, q. 1, a. 1, co. See in this connection the substantial research to be found in G. MARENGO, Trinità e creazione, Città Nuova, Roma 1990., 27-83. Valuable suggestions also in L. MATHIEU, La Trinità creatrice secondo san Bonaventura, Milano 1994; G. EMERY, La Trinité creatrice, Paris 1995.


22. THOMAS AQUINAS, Quaestiones disputatae de Potentia Dei q. 2, aa. 5-6; cf. G. MARENGO, Trinità, 84-133.


23. It was Irenaeus of Lyons who assimilated the pauline parallel in all its fullness as crucial for an adequate understanding of the nexus between anthropology and Christology. "Hence also was Adam himself termed by Paul "the figure of Him that was to come", because the Word, the Maker of all things, had formed beforehand for Himself the future dispensation of the human race, connected with the Son of God; God having predestined that the first man should be of an animal nature, with this view, that he might be saved by the Spiritual One. For inasmuch as He had a pre-existence as a saving Being, it was necessary that what might be saved should also be called into existence, in order that the Being who saves should not exist in vain'. IRENAEUS OF LYONS, Against Heresies, III, 22, 3. [The Ante-Nicene Fathers, edd. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Edinburgh and Grand Rapids 1996, vol. I, 455]. The translation of this famous text is a matter of debate. On the interpretation of the text see: A. ORBE, Antropología de san Ireneo, BAC, Madrid 1997, 491-493; J. A. DE ALDAMA, Adam, typus futuri (San Ireneo, Advers. haer. 3, 22, 3), in «Sacris Erudiri» 13 (1962) 266-279. Other texts by Irenaeus in: Against heresies II , 2, 4, 126; III, 21, 10, 287-288; V, 1, 1, 411-412.


24. On this cf.: 1Cor 15, 45-49; 2Cor 5, 17; Gal 6, 15; Rom 5, 12-21; 8, 19-24; Col 3, 9-10; Eph 2, 14-16; 4, 22-24.


25. Cf. H. U. VON BALTHASAR, Teodrammatica 3, Jaca Book, Milano 1983, 33-39; 233-242.


26. Cf. ID., Epilogo, 151-152. On the theological interpretation of the salvific death of Christ see G. MOIOLI, Cristologia. Proposta sistematica, Glossa, Milano 19952, 154-192; G. BIFFI, Soddisfazione vicaria o espiazione solidale?, in ID., Tu solo il Signore. Saggi teologici d'altri tempi, Piemme, Casale Monferrato 1987, 42-67; H. U. VON BALTHASAR, Teodrammatica 4, Jaca Book, Milano 1986, 213-336; A. SCOLA, Questioni di Antropologia Teologica, Pul-Mursia, Roma 19972, 14-19.


27. See also: Gaudium et spes 12, 24, 34 and 62; Redemptor hominis 10; Fides et ratio 60; Catechism of the Catholic Church 359 e 1701.


28. «Noi possiamo interrogarci sull'essenza dell'uomo soltanto nel vivo atto della sua esistenza. Non esiste antropologia al di fuori di quella drammatica», H. U. VON BALTHASAR, Teodrammatica 2, 317.


29. Cfr A. SCOLA G. MARENGO J. PRADES, La persona umana, 144-151.


30. Cf. John 15, 8; 16, 14; 2Cor 3, 18. Cf. E. MERSCH, La théologie du Corps Mystique t. 2, Desclée de Brouwer, Paris 19462, 9-68.


31. In this connection cf.: F.-M. LÉTHEL, Théologie de l'agonie du Christ : la liberté humaine du Fils de Dieu et son importance sotériologique mises en lumière par Saint Maxime le Confesseur, Beauchesne, Paris 1979.


32. IRENAEUS, Against heresies, IV, 20, 7.


33. Mk 8, 36; Lk 9, 22-25.


34. H. U. VON BALTHASAR, Teodrammatica , 3, 25-53.


35. Cf. A. SCOLA, Hans Urs von Balthasar: uno stile teologico, Jaca Book, Milano 1991, 115-118.


36. Contrary to the conviction that the language of creation "would be incomprehensible», E. VOEGELIN, Anamnesi. Teorie della storia e della politica, Giuffrè, Milano 1972, 46-47.


37. H. U. VON BALTHASAR, La mia opera, 91.


38. Cf. BENEDICT XVI, Fede, ragione e università. Ricordi e riflessioni, Incontro con i rappresentanti della scienza, Regensburg 12 settembre 2006; ID., Incontro con il Corpo Diplomatico presso la Repubblica di Turchia, Ankara 28 novembre 2006.