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Augustine's Early Theology of ImageA Study in the Development of Pro-Nicene Theology$
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Gerald P. Boersma

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190251369

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190251369.001.0001

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The Plotinian Image

The Plotinian Image

(p.135) IV The Plotinian Image
Augustine's Early Theology of Image

Gerald P. Boersma

Oxford University Press

This chapter studies how the words “imago” and “similitude” are used in Augustine’s early dialogues. Augustine’s philosophy of image builds on a Plotinian metaphysics in which all finite reality is an image of ultimate reality. Initially, in the Soliloquia, Augustine proposes a definition of image as something false: an image is a reflection claiming identify with its source when, in fact, it is other than its source. As the dialogue progresses, an image is discovered to be “true” rather than deceptive when it is recognized to exist in a participatory union with its source—that is to say, when the temporal, material order is not absolutized, but is recognized to be a reflection of ultimate reality. Thus, an awareness of the dual nature of image is critical to Augustine’s early thought. A Platonic and participatory evaluation drawn from Plotinus’s understanding of image as emanation allows Augustine’s early theology of the imago dei to go beyond that of his Latin predecessors.

Keywords:   participation, imago, similitudo, Plotinian metaphysics, emanation, Soliloquia

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