Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Genesis 1:26-27 - Let us make man in our image

SCRIPTURE - Genesis 1:26-27
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.


You see an intimacy when you read that God decides to make one creature and only one creature in “Our image after Our likeness”.

God uses that word. When you come to Genesis 1 and 2, you notice God is creating by the power of His Word – “Let there be light, Let there be this and that” and by the shear power of Gods Word everything comes into existence. On Day 6 though, the language changes from “Let there be this and Let there be that” to “Let Us make man in our Image after Our likeness”. Suddenly it’s plural. It’s first person plural.

Theologians can debate why there is a change of language. You know there are various theories as to what that change of language means. Some people suppose that it is the plural of majesty, you know the way kings talk “We decree”. But that doesn’t explain why it wasn’t used before when creating the other things. Others suggest, that perhaps God is speaking to the angels, but once again nothing is mentioned of angels co-creating with God in Genesis. I don’t think the Early Church Fathers were off the mark in seeing in Genesis 1:26-27, a trace, a foreshadowing of something that wouldn’t become really clear until the New Testament.

And that is, when God makes man in their image, in “Our image after Our likeness”, He does it in a very significant way. We read about how God makes man male and female. Now He made dogs and cats with a distinction of gender but the distinction between male and female is only mentioned explicitly when God creates man in our image after our likeness to show us that in God’s plan this distinction between male and female is not merely biological but there is something theological. There is a mystery here planted as a seed that is waiting to unfold in human history.

When we realise that God makes man in the image and likeness of God there is a relational meaning to that. Theologians and philosophers debate what it means to bear the image and likeness of God. We have a rational mind, a free will and all of that is true but for the people who were reading this book, the ancient Israelite readers, would have recognised that the very next occurrence of the phrase “image and likeness” is found in the opening verses of Genesis 5 where we discover that Adam became a father of a son named Seth in his own image and likeness. So there is a concrete relational meaning to what it means for us to bear the image and likeness of God.

God has destined us to be more than just rational creatures. He has destined us. He is calling us to enter into a family bond.
The fact that God makes man male and female suggests something more intimate.

To become all that God has made us to be, we must grow ever more perfectly in his divine image. That means we must give ourselves completely. We grow perfect in the image of God only as we “become Christ”, in communion with Christ and in communion with others, in communion with the Church.

Source: Scott Hahn
Professor of Scripture and Theology at Franciscan University
Book and/or Audio Interview on: First Comes Love

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