This book looks at the influential metaphor of describing sin as 'homo incurvatus in se' (humanity being curved in on oneself) from its origins in Augustine to Luther, Barth and Feminist theology. 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.
Table of Contents
Introduction; 1. Augustine's inward turn: An ambiguous beginning; Love makes the city; The goodness of the garden; Participation and relationality; Civic foundations; What happened? The beginning of sin; Falsehood; Pride; Isolation; Falling into slavery; The call to humility; Augustine's ambiguous inwardness in The Trinity; A conclusion; 2. Luther's radical and religious invurvature. Setting the task; Simus iustus et peccator; Fuel to the fire: The persistence of the fomes; Copernicux Redux; The logic of person and works; Totus homo? The postures of death and spirit; Incurvatus in se as ignorance: The critique of natural understanding; Using, enjoying: Incurvatus in se as egoism; Homo religiosus as Homo incurvatus in se; The violation of vocation: Transgressing the limits of calling; Conclusion: Augustine versus Luther?; 3. (How) Do women sin? Daphne Hampson and the Feminist critique of Luther; Introduction; Hampson's critique of Luther on sin, incurvatus in se and the self; Hampson's alternative; Transition: Key questions; Problems with a gendered approach to sin; Hampson's account of sin per se and the controlling factor of continuity; On the explanatory sufficiency of incurvatus in se; 4. Broadening the range of the metaphor: Barth's threefold description of sin; Introduction; A brief apology for paradigms; Sin Christologically defined; Humanity through a Christological lens: A closer look; Sin as pride; Sin as falsehood; Sin as sloth; Hampson and Barth: A tale of two sloths; Conclusion; Coda; Select Bibliography.
Matt Jenson is Assistant Professor of Theology in the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, USA.