This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/jim-stump-faith-and-science-seeking-understanding/humans-as-imago-dei-and-the-evolution-of-homo-sapiens
Terrific synthesis of science and OT theology–the author sounds like he has training in both.
Thank you for this beautiful post. A great way to start the New Year
The Imago Dei is a very important theological concept which has many political and philosophical implications. Imago Dei is much more than a “calling.”
Scholars have long recognized that Gen. 1 is very different in point of view from Gen 2. Therefore it is not right to base one’s understanding of Imago Dei from Gen 1 on the views of Gen 2 and following.
On the other hand God does not call God’s creatures to do something that God has not equipped and empowered them to do. Therefore it follows that God both created humans to be able to be the Image of God and called them to live as the Image of God. The way God created them to be God’s Image is through ecological evolution, which demonstrates God’s wisdom in spades…
Try to imagine how different 2,000 years of Human History would have been IF Jesus embodied the omniscience of his Father that Young Earth Creationists are so quick to award the Son of God!
Imagine if Jesus taught parables on germ theory and cleanliness along with his mystifying parables on truth and righteousness?
Imagine if Jesus taught that stars were not saints (which the Essenes speculated about) . . . but were divinely gigantic suns billions of miles away?
Imagine if Jesus taught the mystical spookiness of the Earth as a globe where God’s divine providence allowed ships and men, as well as vast oceans (!), to cling to the Earth’s surface?
These would have been the revelations of a man who had a divine glimpse into the world that we know we are in today. A fully omniscient Jesus - - who only discussed moral principles - - while intentionally leaving millions and eventually billions of humans to unblinking ignorance is not a very flattering view.
Really great old testament scholarship! I really liked the exegesis about the names in genesis being a function of the story, not necessarily referring to factual persons, I wish this were more widely taught.
“Given the symbolic meaning of the names “Adam” and “Eve,” we may understand the first couple in Genesis 2 as archetypal or representative of all humanity”
“This is true also for other characters in Genesis 1-11, such as Cain (= gift), Noah (= comfort), Shem (= name); in each case the name is a function of the story, which suggests that the early Genesis narratives have a legendary quality and should not be taken as describing historical events in any simple way.”
Roger, I disagree with this statement, and I wonder what evidence you have that makes you so sure it is true. IF humans are a product of evolution (not necessarily Darwinian) they are by definition subject to change–to ongoing creativity–not merely equipped at one point in time with fixed ‘tools’ to perform tasks God had in mind for them. My admittedly heterodox view of Christianity has Jesus as the only human to have achieved true _imago De_i, but he has shown the rest of us The Way to at least strive for that goal–to rise above the selfish elements of the evolutionary mechanisms that produced a Primate with a Conscience. In what way is imago Dei more than a calling?
George, you are more versed in the history of Christian theology than I, and so you know how we Christians came to follow the dogma that our Creator is fully omniscient, whatever that means. This has, in my opinion, led to logical problems: If Jesus is truly One with the Father/Creator, then he too was fully omniscient while on this earth, and certainly was aware of all the ‘scientific truths’ we know of today (and much more). If, instead of performing miracles to establish his credibility with his disciples, he taught them about quantum physics and the Big Bang, how successful would he have been? Is it not possible that our Creator sent His Spirit into our world possessing the physical form dictated by the human genome with the mental capacity to learn only what his fellow humans could teach him, but with the moral and spiritual potential to learn all that God wanted every humans to attain? Is that not sufficiently flattering?
Many Christians believe that although Jesus was one with the Father and able to reveal the Father, his full humanity limited his divine attributes in some ways so he was not fully omniscient while he was incarnate as a human. Hence, his need to spend time in prayer, his growth in “knowledge and stature” (Luke 2:52) and verses like Matt 24:36, Mark 5:30-32.
I don’t think being sufficiently flattering is the intended goal, it’s representing Jesus as fully God and fully human. That Jesus was a spirit who merely appeared in human form was the teaching of the Gnostics and that idea (docetism) was rejected by the Church. Lots of ink has been spilled over the centuries on the hypostatic union. (The idea that Jesus possessed two complete natures in one individual.) I think the Catholics teach that Jesus was fully omniscient concerning the divine things he was sent to reveal (he had access to the divine mind) but his human intellect learned through experience and was limited by opportunities for learning and the capacities of a human brain (in other words, Jesus did not understand advanced astrophysics as a first century Jew.)
I would say that is PRECISELY what must have happened… because it is pretty clear that Jesus didn’t know any TRUE FACTS about biology and the nature of the Universe…
Hi Christy & George
I’ll bet I am not alone in speculating how different Jesus’ task would have been had the Jewish culture and scientific knowledge at 1 AD been at today’s level. Would it have been easier or harder to point the way to our Father in Heaven? I suspect it would have been harder. For me, in today’s world, knowledge of the material universe has given me more respect for our spiritual nature. But that does not apply for many folks, as evidenced by the need for BioLogos when it comes to viewing evolution in a spiritual context. The Modern Atheists maintain that Christianity could never have caught on if the populous in the first century were not so abysmally ignorant–which may be true to a degree if speaking only of ignorance of the material world and disregarding the spiritual. On the other hand, it may be true that many folks today have 'become too smart for their own britches.'
This is a very creative article.
What an excellent post. Very interesting about the names and about vocation.
I think everything about what Jesus taught (and what he couldn’t teach) shows us that his knowledge was on the divine … and not on the material.
People mourn the destruction of the Library at Alexandria … but even if Jesus had known about the natural world as much as any country doctor of today the world would have been dramatically revolutionized 2000 years ago.
Dozens of books have explored fictionalized accounts like this … with the central plot mechanism the protagonist trying to avoid being jailed or executed as a witch or a demon for what he knows.
This wouldn’t have been a problem for Jesus … for he ultimately experienced both !!!
I think that Jesus’s purpose for coming to Earth as a man must be considered. Jesus came to save humanity from eternal punishment because of their sin, and taught about God and himself and how we should act as Christians also. If Jesus knew all things about science and the universe ( which I think is likely due to his deity, ) and taught them as part of his teachings, wouldn’t it be out of place in cultural and historical context? The Jews would not have had the experience to have the capacity to understand concepts such as quantum mechanics or relativity. Also, what Jesus teaches are moral and spiritual principles, which are unchanging and much more firm and important than any natural law. God changes natural laws periodically when performing miracles, but the moral laws never change.
God tells us something to the effect that “My ways are higher than your ways. My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.” Christians should leave it at that because “the Devil is always in the details” and God tells us that we will never understand.
On the other hand, preachers and theologians can’t pay their bills by teaching, “I don’t have a clue.”