McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Maureen R O'Brien
Akan Culture, Creation in the Image of God, Human Uniqueness, Okra, Honhom, Sunsum, Ntoro, Mogya, Theological Anthropology
The Judeo-Christian belief, based on the bible, is that "God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Gen. 1: 27). This dissertation explores the Akan understanding of the human person to shed further light on creation of human beings in the image of God and to understand and demonstrate the corresponding uniqueness of the human being among God's creatures. With the help of the Akan context, we note that every human being possesses a spark of God. God, who is relational, shares relationality with human beings.
Through the use of Akan anthropology, we identify creation "in the image of God" to mean that every human being is created through the agency of parents, who also share in the image of God through their birth. Our interpretation is that the okra is the soul and is considered the "spark of God" in the human being. The honhom, which refers to the breath of life, is treated as the breath that God breathed into human beings to make a human a living being (Gen 2:7). We equated the breath of God with the Holy Spirit who gives life. We propose to demonstrate the possibility of human relationships through the Holy Spirit.
At the moment of conception, every human being derives some elements from his/her father and mother and elements from God. These elements from the three sources (God, mother, and father) combine to make a person a human being. Though humanity derives certain elements from the three sources, it is the holistic person that reflects God's image in the sense that through the various elements humanity is able to relate and communicate with God, neighbor, and the world. The holistic human person enables us to clarify that humanity is both physical and spiritual.
With the help of the Akan anthropology, we successfully show that knowledge of the human being starts with the relationship between God and human beings, which extends to other humans and the universe, thus offering a further insight into the meaning of being created in the image of God.
Our conclusion is that when a Christian is asked the question, "What exactly in the human being points to the image of God?" he/she will be able to respond that there is a "spark" of God in every human being. We therefore renew Christian anthropology through the method of contextualization with the Akan culture to disclose the hidden presence of God in the human being. We demonstrate that theology functions exactly as the manner in which religion makes sense within a given culture. As the people in the culture understand their world and make meaning of it, they can also share their insight with others. Human beings have become a source of theology in addition to scripture and tradition. Human beings are created in God's image and are relational and unique within God's creation.
Antwi, E. (2016). Creation in the Image of God: Human Uniqueness From the Akan Religious Anthropology to the Renewal of Christian Anthropology (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1509