Original Research - Special Collection: Wentzel van Huyssteen

Memory, embodiment, ethics: In conversation with Wentzel van Huyssteen’s work on theological anthropology

Robert Vosloo
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 42, No 2 | a2383 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v42i2.2383 | © 2021 Robert Vosloo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 September 2021 | Published: 30 November 2021

About the author(s)

Robert Vosloo, Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa


This article focuses on Wentzel van Huyssteen’s work on theological anthropology, attending especially to his emphasis on the temporal and narrative dimension of personal identity. In this regard, Van Huyssteen draws on the thought of Paul Ricoeur, including his view that memory is the gateway to the self. With this in mind, the first part of the article highlights some key features of Van Huyssteen’s engagement the last decade or two with the question what it means to be human, namely the affirmation of interdisciplinarity, embodiment and vulnerability. The argument is put forward that Van Huyssteen’s work invites and displays the need to uphold the interconnections between embodiment, memory, vulnerability, imagination and empathy. It is furthermore claimed that his constructive proposals ‘in search of self’ should be seen as inextricably connected with its crucial ethical and theological motivation and contours.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article focuses on the South African theologian Wentzel van Huyssteen’s work on theological anthropology. He is internationally renowned, and this article discusses key features of his views and brings it into conversation with the work of the philosopher Paul Ricoeur and perspectives from memory studies. As such, it presents a novel engagement that can enrich systematic theological discourse.


memory; embodiment; Wentzel van Huyssteen; Paul Ricoeur; interdisciplinarity; vulnerability; empathy; theological anthropology


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