The Image Of God In Man

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The Image of God in Man

The Image of God in Man

Research proposal


The verses of Genesis (1:26-27) that explain God's creating mankind in the divine image plus likeness are among the most quoted and reflected upon passages of the Bible, and over the centuries they have been understood and described in a diversity of ways. As we look for first to understand the verses in their original context, it is obvious that this passage forms the peak of the formation narrative that began with the creation of light and culminated in the creation of the human race. After creating the physical world and the plant plus animal kingdoms, "God said, 'Let us make people in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have power over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, as well as over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over each creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.' So God made people in his image, in the image of God he created them; male plus female he created them."

The obvious role of man and woman here, as Gerhard von Rad states it, is to be "God's representative" in the world, maintaining plus enforcing God's power over the earth and animals. Such a position for men and women implies a exclusive relationship and partnership between humans plus God as they complete their God-given purpose in formation. As the Hebrew Bible became accepted by the Christian community as part of the revealed Word of God, nevertheless, the Genesis verses referring to humans being created in the image plus likeness of God were seized upon by early theologians who had been pressured by Greek philosophy and metaphysics, and the passage was given a particular anthropological interpretation based on what was considered exclusively characteristic of humanity above all other creatures: its control of the authority of reasoning. Thus, in his commentary on Genesis Augustine pointed out the importance of humanity's being made in God's image in order to have power over the fish and birds "plus other animals lacking reason": it was so that we must understand that humans were made in God's image in possessing something that made them better to illogical animals, namely, "reason, or mind, or understanding, or any more suitable term".

Significance of the study

Responding to a question of Pope John Paul II on what light evolution can throw on formation in the image of God, this research paper first will consider how the creation of humanity in the image and similarity of God (Gen 1:26-27) has been variously understood. It then will study how sociobiology looks for to explain the origin and role of altruism. Lastly it will propose a theology of altruism that originates in God's interpersonal mutual commitment, is humanly and archetypally expressed by Jesus as "the image of God" (Col 1:15), and invites the human species to pursue mutual concern as created in the image of the divine ...
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