Martin Luther's notion of human dignity is, in line with the entire Christian tradition, identical to the notion of humankind as the image of God (Gen. 1.26f). This at once determines the horizon within which Luther – critically – engages the corresponding notions of humankind as the image of God in scholasticism and mysticism, Renaissance philosophy and humanism (cf. Trinkaus 1970; Ebeling 1975: 320–4). With respect to his understanding of the idea of humankind as the image of God, Luther's most prominent document is the Disputatio de homine (1536), which discusses this understanding in light of the dispute between philosophy and theology (WA 39 I: 175–7). As becomes clear from a glance at thesis 20, the very first thesis announces how fundamentally controversial the basic anthropological notion is: ‘Philosophy, human wisdom, defines human beings as endowed with the gift of reason, with senses and with corporeality’ (WA 39 I: 175.3f). Following this classical determination of the human being as ‘rational animal’ or ‘zoon logon echon’, which stems from the Aristotelian tradition, theses 2–19 contain a critical engagement with philosophical anthropology. According to Luther, theology, on the ground of its universal claim to truth, cannot restrict itself to moving within a religious domain nor can it simply integrate and subject itself to philosophical standards. As such, then, it is the nature of theology as an academic discipline – as critical reference to other universal claims to truth – to engage in conflict and dispute.
Thesis 20, contrasting itself to this flawed philosophical understanding, states: ‘Theology, on the contrary, defines, from the fullness of its wisdom, humans as whole and perfect.’ Luther offers – and this is the point of his understanding of human dignity – a doctrine of humankind that is grounded in the theology of justification through and through, and is defined by the core statement (thesis 32): ‘In Romans 3[:28], “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law”, Paul briefly summarizes the definition of humankind in the statement that humankind is justified by faith (hominem iustificari fide).’ This means that humankind – any human without exception – is, without any merit or any worth that he could grant himself or expect from other humans as recognition, unconditionally and absolutely recognized and valued by his creator, redeemer and perfecter.
Case studies contribute more focused analyses which, in the context of human loss and damage, demonstrate the effectiveness of response strategies and prevention measures and identify lessons about success in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. The case studies were chosen to complement and be consistent with the information in the preceding chapters, and to demonstrate aspects of the key messages in the Summary for Policymakers and the Hyogo Framework for Action Priorities.
The case studies were grouped to examine types of extreme events, vulnerable regions, and methodological approaches. For the extreme event examples, the first two case studies pertain to events of extreme temperature with moisture deficiencies in Europe and Australia and their impacts including on health. These are followed by case studies on drought in Syria and dzud, cold-dry conditions in Mongolia. Tropical cyclones in Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Mesoamerica, and then floods in Mozambique are discussed in the context of community actions. The last of the extreme events case studies is about disastrous epidemic disease, using the case of cholera in Zimbabwe, as the example.
The case studies chosen to reflect vulnerable regions demonstrate how a changing climate provides significant concerns for people, societies, and their infrastructure. These are: Mumbai as an example of a coastal megacity; the Republic of the Marshall Islands, as an example of small island developing states with special challenges for adaptation; and Canada's northern regions as an example of cold climate vulnerabilities focusing on infrastructures.
Characteristically, Paul Tillich begins his Systematic Theology (published in three volumes in 1951, 1957 and 1963) with a section entitled 'Message and Situation' (ST I, 3-6). This section contains the key to his entire project of a theology developed 'in the tension between two poles'; the tension between 'the eternal truth of its foundation and the temporal situation in which the eternal truth must be received' (3). Tillich never departed from this theological vocation; even in his many works on 'social organization' and the 'critiques of the time' (Zeitkritik), notably The Religious Situation (1932) and Theology of Culture (1959), for which he was initially best known. Tillich always wrote from within 'the theological circle' (10). For Tillich, to do theology is to be situated: the truth of theology is based in a particular time. Tillich's insistence on perceiving the relevant 'situation' as 'the totality of man's creative self-interpretation in a special period' and his willingness to undertake the demanding analytical work that this required (an analysis of 'the scientific and artistic, the economic, political, and ethical forms in which they [a people] express their interpretation of existence') sets him apart from the other prominent kinds of twentieth-century theology (4; 3-4). For Tillich, the two poles of message and situation stand in the same relationship to each other as the great kairos to the many lesser kairoi (ST I, 3; ST III, 369-72). Jesus as the Christ is 'the centre of history', the 'transtemporal' central occurrence of the 'great kairos', the only final kairos, the Eschaton (ST III, 364, 366).
THE BIBLE AS A MIRROR OF THE WORLD
The philologist Friedrich Nietzsche maintained that Luther's translation of the Bible was “the best German book.” In connection to Luther's work, Goethe designated the Bible a “mirror of the world” and thereby saw the world of this one book and the “book of the world” enfolded within each other.
Researchers of the German language are to a great extent agreed that Luther, not only with his translation of the Bible but also with his prefaces to the Bible, sermons, Small Catechism, and his songs, pamphlets, and tracts, is an event in the history of German literature to which no other can be compared. The event is of speech that comes out of hearing. Luther is linguistically creative by means of hearing and translating.
To recognize Luther’s significance for the German language, one must not, as has indeed happened, make Luther into the creator of the modern High German literary language. Nevertheless, Klopstock wrote that among no nation has a single person so shaped the language of a whole people as Luther has done. In fact, Luther’s language – above all the language of his translation of the Bible – became the presupposition of understanding and communication throughout the whole of the German language.
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