Presenter: Peter Kline

Peter Kline. ‘Imaging Nothing: Kierkegaard and the Imago Dei’. When considering what makes the human being uniquely human, or how it ‘images God’ within the created order, Søren Kierkegaard does not turn to Genesis 1:27, the privileged passage of the Western theological tradition. He turns instead to Matthew 6, a passage in which the reader is instructed to ‘consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air’. In several rounds of ‘upbuilding discourses’ on this passage, Kierkegaard develops what I would call an ‘apophatic’ approach to the imago dei. The imaging of God that the human being is called to enact has no positive or stable content. It does not consist in any self-possessed capability, nor does it set the human being at the top of a hierarchically ordered creation. Rather, the human being images God only when it ‘becomes nothing’ as Kierkegaard puts it. With such an apophatic account of the human being, a whole host of problematic and oppressive interpretations of the imago dei can be resisted.

Image via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain


Forgan Smith Building (1),
St Lucia campus