Summer 2009

Calling Fathers “Father”: Usurping the Name of God?

Jean-Pierre Batut

We know that in the Scriptures, calling God “Father” is absolutely central. We also recall that, far from coming first in salvation history, this usage only becomes normative at the end of a long process that caused it to pass, according to Paul Ricoeur’s felicitous expression, “from fantasy to symbol.”1 God’s fatherhood only emerges with decisive clarity when we learn that he is the Father, which we cannot do without the manifestation of the one who alone can claim the title of Son. The entire Old Testament prepares this revelation, as the title “first-born son,” given to Israel (Ex 4:22), bears witness: the chosen people is itself a figure of Christ.


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