Good summary of some of David Bentley Hart’s thought. It sheds light on precisely why perspectives and laws that ascribe human worth based upon the subjectivity of another should chill us to the bone.
“The ease with which the ancient world accepted violence and suffering, Hart argues, was a natural outgrowth of the pagan understanding of the human person. Individual worth was entirely a function of social position. Conquered peoples had value only in so far as a Roman deemed it so. Slaves had value only to the extent their masters might grant it. The value of a wife or child was the sole prerogative of a husband or father. Even among Romans, human value was intimately tied to distinctions of class and birth. The idea that the social person was not necessarily the essence of the human person was so foreign as to be incoherent to the ancient mind. Even an intellect as powerful as Aristotle could argue quite cogently for the slave state being natural to some (Book VII of “Nicomachean Ethics”).
Into this stilted milieu, Christianity pronounced a message as radical as it was attractive: That all humans were created in the image of the one God and therefore had intrinsic value undefiled by social circumstance. “
The ease with which the ancient world accepted violence and suffering was a natural outgrowth of the pagan understanding of the human person. But Christianity pronounced a message as radical as it was…
Read it all: The Christian Revolution