“God created humans in the beginning to be his vice rulers over the world.

That is part, at least, of what it meant that humans were made “in God’s image.” The “image” is like an angled mirror, reflecting God’s wise and caring love into the world, bringing order and fruitfulness to the garden where the humans were placed. That project was, of course, tragically twisted with human arrogance and sin. But it has never been rescinded. . . .

When humans take up their divinely appointed role, looking after God’s world on his behalf, this is not a Promethean attempt to usurp God’s role. It is the humble, obedient carrying out of the role that has been assigned. The real arrogance would be to refuse the vocation, imagining that we knew better than God the purpose for which we have been put here.” – N. T. Wright, The Case for the Psalms

Bruegel the Elder, Pieter. The (Great) Tower of Babel. Austria, Vienna. Kunsthistorisches Museum, 1563. Oil on panel..jpg

Bruegel the Elder, Pieter. The (Great) Tower of Babel. Austria, Vienna. Kunsthistorisches Museum, 1563. Oil on panel.

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Our prevailing modern Western worldview is no more “modern” than the worldview of the first Christians. All that has happened is that many leading scientists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, who were attracted to Epicureanism for quite other reasons (not least social, cultural, and political), have interpreted their perfectly proper scientific observations (for instance, concerning the origin and development of different species of plants and animals) within an Epicurean framework. It has then been assumed that “science“ actually supports this view of a detached “God“ and a world simply doing its own thing. But this is profoundly mistaken. – N. T. Wright, The Case for the Psalms

Raphael. Epicurus. The School of Athens. 1511. Fresco..jpg

Raphael. Epicurus. The School of Athens. 1511. Fresco.

 

Augustine of Hippo

I now make an open account and confession of my sins; if my reader is one whom you have called, who has followed your voice and avoided the same sins, let them not laugh at me as they read my account. I have been healed by the same Physician whose care has kept them from falling ill at all, or at least not so severely. Let them see that it is through you, who have saved me from the sickness of my sins, that they too do not suffer to the same degree from the sickness of their own. – Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

Augustine of Hippo (354-430), a Roman magistrate transformed into a bishop of the early Church, formulated his notion of Christian morality as a response to his having been sorely tempted by a peach. – Lapham, Lewis H., editor. Lapham’s Quarterly. Volume 1.1.

Carpaccio, Vittore. Vision of St Augustin. Venice. Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, 1502. Tempera on canvas..jpg

Carpaccio, Vittore. Vision of St Augustin. Venice. Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, 1502. Tempera on canvas.

Botticelli, Sandro. The punishment of the heretics. 1495.

And here, because of the outrageous stench
thrown up in excess by that deep abyss,
we drew back till we were behind the lid
of a great tomb, on which i made out this,
inscribed: “I hold Pope Anastasius,
enticed to leave the true path by Photinus.”

e quivi, per l’orribile soperchio
del puzzo che il profondo abisso gitta,
ci raccostammo dietro ad un coperchio
d’un grand’avello, ov’io vidi una scritta
che diceva: “Anastasio papa guardo,
lo qual trasse Fotin della via dritta”.

Anastasius II, Pope from 496-8, at a time when the doctrine of Christ’s two natures, as God and man, was the subject of a growing rift between the Western (Latin) and Eastern (Greek) Churches. By showing favor to the Greek cleric Photinus, who had been sent to negotiate with him, Anastasius revealed his support for the heretic Acacius of Constantinople (died 481), who had denied Christ’s divinity.

Botticelli, Sandro. The punishment of the heretics. 1495.
Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy. Translator Allen Mandelbaum.
Dante Alighieri. La Divina Commedia. BUR Rizzoli, 2016.
Notes by Peter Armour