The Gravity of Sin: Augustine, Luther and Barth on 'homo incurvatus in se'

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9780567031372: The Gravity of Sin: Augustine, Luther and Barth on 'homo incurvatus in se'

Matt Jenson argues that the image of being ‘curved in on oneself' is the best paradigm for understanding sin relationally, that it has sufficient explanatory breadth and depth to be of service to contemporary Christian theology. He looks to Augustine as the Christian source for this image in his various references to humanity's turn to itself, though the threads of a relational account of sin are not drawn together with any systematic consequence until Martin Luther's description of 'homo incurvatus in se' in his commentary on Romans. Luther radicalizes Augustine's conception by applying this relational view of sin to the totus homo and by emphasizing its appearance, above all, in homo religiosus. The Western tradition of sin understood paradigmatically as pride has been recently called into question by feminist theologians. Daphne Hampson's critique of Luther on this front is considered and critiqued. Though she is right to call attention to the insufficiency of his and Augustine's myopic focus on pride, the question remains whether 'incurvatus in se' can operate paradigmatically as an umbrella concept covering a far wider range of sins. Karl Barth's extension of 'incurvatus in se' to apply more broadly to pride, sloth and falsehood suggests that incurvature can do just that.

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About the Author:

Matt Jenson is a systematic theologian in the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, La Mirada, CA. He is the author of The Gravity of Sin: Augustine, Luther and Barth on 'homo incurvatus in se' (T&T Clark, 2007).

Review:

'Jenson offers a lively and learned analysis of the theme of sin as introversion and loss of relation; he has a good eye for the place of Christian teaching about sin in the corpus of Christian doctrine, a wide knowledge of modern theology, and a sure touch in exposition and critique. This is an intelligent piece of constructive theology, and it deserves many readers.'John Webster, Professor of Systematic Theology, King's College, University of Aberdeen (John Webster, Professor of Systematic Theology, King's College, University of Aberdeen)

'A quite exceptional book, beautifully written, with lucidity and considerable eloquence. I can imagine it being read by professors as well as bright undergraduates, and to the considerable benefit of both. Jenson is advancing an impressive and compelling line on the doctrine of sin that made me re-think many of the classic debates.' Professor Jeremy Begbie, Ridley Hall, Cambridge and University of St Andrews (Professor Jeremy Begbie, Ridley Hall, Cambridge and University of St Andrews)

"A very rare combination of academic rigour with real clarity and absence of obfuscation by insight. It is likely to be the first of many publications by a scholar with a very bright future." (Alistair McFadyen, Head of Dept of Theology, Leeds University)

'Here is a superb study of one of the most crucial yet contested concepts in Christian anthropology—'homo incurvatus in se.' Jenson traces the development of this idea through Augustine, Luther, and Barth and also brings it into fruitful dialogue with recent feminist concerns. A great example of dogmatic retrieval in the service of theological renewal.' Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University, and an executive editor of Christianity Today (Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University, and an executive editor of Christianity Today)

"In this elegant study, Matt Jenson has made his own timely contribution to this renewed exploration of Christian talk about sin." (Ben Myers, Faith and Theology (faith-theology.blogspot.com))

"This is a fascinating and instructive study. The book is straightforward and clear in structure and prose...and Jenson wields a respectable command of the texts in question. Yet even if one were to differ regarding some aspect of his interpretations of Augustine, Luther, or Barth, the book's overall argument — regarding the merit of incurvature as an image of sin — is highly compelling."
Brian Gregor, Heythrop Journal (Brian Gregor, Heythrop Journal)

"This is an extremely well-written books that covers some important ground.a good work of theology with a solid historical underpinning, clear analysis and contemporary relevance. It deserves to be read"Theolgical Book Review Vol.19 No.2 2007 (Kennetth G C Newport)

"This is an original and important book, which ought to be read by all theologians interested in theological anthropology in general, and the doctrine of sin in particular. Jenson writes clearly, carefully and with an eye to the detail of the positions he expounds and seeks to engage."Journal of Reformed Theology 3, 2009

"Jenson's book assists us in having a broader understanding of sin, capable of guiding us to a fuller understanding of freedom from the bondage of sin in the person and work of Jesus Christ."
-Adam J. Johnson, Themelios

'Jenson offers a lively and learned analysis of the theme of sin as introversion and loss of relation; he has a good eye for the place of Christian teaching about sin in the corpus of Christian doctrine, a wide knowledge of modern theology, and a sure touch in exposition and critique. This is an intelligent piece of constructive theology, and it deserves many readers.' John Webster, Professor of Systematic Theology, King's College, University of Aberdeen (Sanford Lakoff)

'A quite exceptional book, beautifully written, with lucidity and considerable eloquence. I can imagine it being read by professors as well as bright undergraduates, and to the considerable benefit of both. Jenson is advancing an impressive and compelling line on the doctrine of sin that made me re-think many of the classic debates.' Professor Jeremy Begbie, Ridley Hall, Cambridge and University of St Andrews (Sanford Lakoff)

"A very rare combination of academic rigour with real clarity and absence of obfuscation by insight. It is likely to be the first of many publications by a scholar with a very bright future." (Sanford Lakoff)

'Here is a superb study of one of the most crucial yet contested concepts in Christian anthropology—'homo incurvatus in se.' Jenson traces the development of this idea through Augustine, Luther, and Barth and also brings it into fruitful dialogue with recent feminist concerns. A great example of dogmatic retrieval in the service of theological renewal.' Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University, and an executive editor of Christianity Today (Sanford Lakoff)

"In this elegant study, Matt Jenson has made his own timely contribution to this renewed exploration of Christian talk about sin." (Sanford Lakoff)

“This is a fascinating and instructive study. The book is straightforward and clear in structure and prose...and Jenson wields a respectable command of the texts in question. Yet even if one were to differ regarding some aspect of his interpretations of Augustine, Luther, or Barth, the book’s overall argument – regarding the merit of incurvature as an image of sin – is highly compelling.”
Brian Gregor, Heythrop Journal (Sanford Lakoff)

"This is an extremely well-written books that covers some important ground.a good work of theology with a solid historical underpinning, clear analysis and contemporary relevance. It deserves to be read"Theolgical Book Review Vol.19 No.2 2007 (Sanford Lakoff)

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