“What is man that you are mindful of him?” (Ps. 8:4a)
King David’s question so many centuries ago continues to echo in our hearts to this very day. It confronts us throughout our lives. While we may have periods of unawareness, we are all arrested at some point with thoughts of our origin and purpose. We begin to wonder: How did God create me? Why did God create me? Does God care about me? Did he make a mistake? And so on.
These become burning questions for us as humans. These questions aren’t confined to the ivory tower. Ask any teenager for proof. They are confronted daily about what it means to be human.
For example, Carl Trueman opens his wildly popular book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self with an illustration about the intelligibility of the phrase: “I am a woman trapped in a man’s body.” He argues that such a sentence would’ve made no sense to his grandfather a mere thirty years ago. And yet today this statement is nearly ubiquitous and apparently quite understandable. No doubt, understanding what it means to be human is of paramount importance.
In the world of theology these topics are categorized by the terminology of theological anthropology.
Theological anthropology is theological because it seeks to understand the nature of the human person in light of divine revelation. It is anthropology because it seeks to understand the human person. Such an approach is contrasted with anthropology more generally since that merely looks at man without God.