Re: More on the Image of God

Dick Fischer (
Mon, 09 Mar 1998 22:47:43 -0600

Bob wrote:

>Comment: These are impressive passages that favor your position. But I don't
>think it is a shut case. The first two verses of Gen 5 read thus in my Bible
>(NRSV): "This is a list of the descendants of Adam. When God created
>humankind he made them in the likeness of God. Male and female he created
>them, and he blessed them and named them 'Humankind' when they were created."
>In the footnotes an alternative translation of "humankind" is "adam".

I believe this is another case of translators out-thinking themselves
instead of simply following the Hebrew text as it was written. It has
been presumed that we all descended from Adam, emanate from Ham, Shem or
Japheth after a world-wide flood, and had our languages scrambled at Babel.
Those are mistaken conclusions brought on by a popular misconception fueled
by mistranslation and poor interpretation.

Here the translators inserted "humankind" because it fits what they
commonly believe.

><<The native Americans in the Southwest built totem poles as objects of
>worship. They knew the totems were not gods, but they desired having
>something they could see, that was tangible. An "image" is a likeness
>or representation of something. In Leviticus 26:1, the children of
>Israel were told to make "no idols nor graven image." Idols themselves
>can become objects of worship, obscuring the one true God who accepts
>worship directly. "The image of Baal" (II Kings 3:2) was an object of
>pagan worship, a representation of Baal. They knew the alters were not
>Baal, but served as a medium of sorts by which they could worship a god
>they could not see.>>

>Comment: Are you suggesting that we may be worshipping ourselves as
>the image of God?

I am only suggesting that the word "image" may mean something as
simple as "representative," and maybe, nothing more. Christ, in the
image of God, is God's representative to man. Now the "image" could
connote much more in the case of Christ, but I am not so sure it does
as regards Adam and his kin.

>Comment: I think you should read Gen. 9:6 more carefully. In the NRSV it
>reads, "Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person's
>blood be shed; for in his own image God made humankind." Doesn't this mean
>that killing a human being is forbidden _because all humans are made in God's
>own image_?

Am I ever going to catch flack for this one. The "'adam" or "bene 'adam"
are God's chosen people, i.e., Adamites, Semites, Israelites, Jews. The
warning is to those who do harm to the descendants of Adam!

>Comment: I believe the image of God has two aspects; first, as a creational
>concept. God's image is bestowed on humankind at creation, as an act of God's
>grace. It is the "image of dust" as spoken of in I Cor. 15: 49. Through
>human sin it was broken, but not destroyed. Second, the image of God has a
>redemptive aspect. The image that will be ours in redemption is not a restored
>or upgraded "image of the dust", but rather, a new image--we will "bear the
>image of the man of heaven." (I Cor. 15:49).

Point well taken. You could even be right. What pushes me in the direction
of Adam as image bearer, and others not, is Mark 10:6-8. "But from the
beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause
shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they
twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh."

Christ unites Genesis 1:27, the man in question, with Genesis 2:24 who we
know is Adam - Eve's husband. "So God created man in his own image, in the
image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Gen. 1:27).
"And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she
shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall
a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and
they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:23-24).

And that which Christ hath joined together (Gen. 1:27 & Gen. 2:24) let not
man put asunder.

If "man" in Genesis 1 was the biological head of our race, where in time
does he occur? Was he an object of special creation or did he evolve? Is
that "the beginning of creation" that Christ speaks about? Are evolved men

What was the question that evoked the response in Mark 10:6-8?
"Is it lawful for a man to put away (divorce) his wife?" Did early
cave-dwellers marry or divorce?

Christ's initial response offers a clue. "And he answered and said
unto them, What did Moses command you?" Moses's command was for the
Israelites, not Homo erectus.

>Comment: In the last paragraph you conflate "image bearers", accountability,
>covenant, ambassador, first of our species. All I'm looking at is "image
>bearers". I never said Adam was the first of our species.

There is obviously latitude to go either way. I think the weight of evidence
is on Adam of Genesis 1, 2 and 5 being the same man - that's all. Personally,
I think we are in the image of God when we conform to the image of Christ. We
represent God when we represent Christ. I don't think it's a birthright.

Dick Fischer