- The striking thing about Imago Dei theologies is that they can become huge edifices built on a very small foundation. Many theologies begin with the Genesis 1 statements, but quickly launch into pretty uncritical linkages with 'image' statements in the New Testament, mainly in Pauline writings. A thorough biblical theological approach which recognises the gulf in salvation-historical terms between these two sources, let alone linguistic and cultural distances, is a rare thing, it seems to me.
- The Structural Paradigm for interpreting the Imago Dei (seeing the image as an analogy of God's being) is everywhere: the Fathers, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, to different degrees and varying formulations. However, this paradigm owes just as much to Platonistic paradigms as it does to any biblical structuring. The Functional Paradigm sees the image as the mediation of power or rule by man in the world, as it is delegated by God. Dominion is the function and the physical body (peripheral in the Structural Paradigm) becomes central. Ancient Near East parallels play a much bigger part in deriving theologies from the Genesis 1 data.
- How about this for a fascinating quote from Hendrikus Berkhof: 'By studying how systematic theologies have poured meaning into Genesis 1:26 one could write a piece of Europe's cultural history'
- So, after the exercise, my conclusions were: 'Structural Imago Dei theologies, including the classical Reformed position, are built on serious methodological flaws. The synthesis of prevailing philosophies with the biblical data in order to make headway has continued.'..Ouch! In the functional paradigm, man is created not in the image, but as the image (a position consistent with the Hebrew in Genesis 1).
Reflections on the Assurance essay will come in the next post, along with some other reflections on the module in general.