Made in the image of God

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553): Adam and ...
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27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NIV)

1This is the written account of Adam’s family line. When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created. Genesis 5:1-2 (NIV)

7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 1 Corinthians 11:7 (NIV)

Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. They were like God. Then Satan, whose first words recorded in the Bible are a lie, convinced them that they needed to be like God.

 4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5 (NIV)

Though they were already like God. They succumbed to temptation to get try to get something they already had.

Eating the fruit that Eve shared with Adam brought shame upon them. Their innocence was gone.

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Genesis 3:6-7 (NIV)

Jesus at the Last Supper brought forgiveness with the bread and wine he shared. His body and blood. He reversed what had happened in the Garden of Eden.

26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:26-28 (NIV)

We are the image of God.

 

 

 

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The Rise of the Israelite Monarchy, Rachel, and the Garden of Eden

The Tetragrammaton Yahweh intended to be prono...
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The question?

Discuss the issues surrounding Israel’s move to having a human king as their ruler. What role, if any, do women play role in ancient Israel’s transition to monarchy?

What may or may not be my answer:

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The tribal system which had long connected the Hebrew peoples together was coming to a finale quickly due to the paradigmic evolution then-current in the developing political structures of the Ancient Near East. Powerful kings were rising up with economic powerhouses and military machines at their command which were actively destroying the enemies of the State. The Semitic tribes which inhabited Canaan were at constant peril, not only from the outside forces, but so too the internal forces brought on by Near Eastern kinship structures which might find tribes renegotiating kinship based on these predator nations. Examining the book of Judges, we see the increasing moral depravity brought on by the anarchist mentality of the rulers of Israel, namely the people themselves, would become a factor in the eventual enthronement of the king of Israel. When in times of great desperation, a divinely appointed Judge would rule, in an almost Arthurian way, until the crisis had passed. Several times in the book of Judges, this rise and fall of decentralized leadership was criticized by the Deuteronomist who regularly noted that, ‘In those days, there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own eyes.’  But, it wasn’t until rapidly successive judges began to appear that the idea of hereditary Kingship over temporary kinship (i.e., temporary alliances which created kinship) began to develop as something desirable to offset the growing fear from the tribes’ neighbors.

Theologically speaking, the act of asking for a King was a sin, not merely for the fear which replaced the devotion and reliance upon YHWH, but for the denial of the basic humanity of and God’s divine mission for the Tribes. In Genesis 1.26, God is said to make humanity in the image of Himself (and his heavenly court). For the early reader of this tract, it would have been read as God declaring all of humanity as royalty, removing the socio-political structure which was separating out of the larger mass a select family which other peoples were developing as hereditary rule. By creating an oligarchy, or at the very least, a ruling elite, they also created a division of those who could and could not represent the gods on earth. The king was the gods’ agent and only through him could divine edicts be issued or prayers made. ]]’s 2010 book, The Invention of Hebrew, strongly argues that the central difference between the Scriptures and other religious works of the period (and indeed, any written works) is that for the first time, it wasn’t the king who was addressed by a god, but the people.

]], notes that for the Ancient Near East, the image of the King and the image of God where nearly married in the mind of the people,

“The close relationship between the image of the god and the image of the king is an important part of the ideology of kingship in the ancient Near East. The king was regarded as the earthly representative of the gods, and as such the image of the god was a symbol of the legitimacy of the earthly king. The divine image was pictured and was treated as a king, therefore serving as a reminder of the divine authority of the king.”  He cites as the strongest evidence “a 13th-century Middle Assyrian text, the ‘Tukulti-Ninurta Epic,’ that described the king as the salarti Illil däru, ‘the eternal image of Enlil.’ The phrase salarti DN, ‘image of the god,’ is also used of the king in later neo-Assyrian and neo-Babylonian texts, but the meaning of the phrase reflects the common royal ideology of Mesopotamia—and, we might add, the common West-Semitic ideology as well. The ‘image of the god’ was the king himself.” (CBQ 1988)

Hendel and others are correct. We must make the point that if the Tribes were now seeking to replace the transcendent YHWH which walked and spoke with His people directly with a King, they weren’t just asking for a ruler like the other nations, they also wanted a god like the other nations, with a direct representative on earth, a position which they were abdicating. They had asked for a forbidden knowledge: that they were no longer worthy to walk and talk with YHWH. No longer were temporary leaders to be made available when Israel had digressed into moral depravity, but now a king was desired to perhaps constantly remind them of YHWH and in doing so, they quite easily rejected the imago dei as they had abandoned their roles as God’s agents, abdicating it as an answer to fear. The people had put up a wall between themselves as the Children of God and God; they had sinned.

For the feminine involvement in the transition to monarchy, it could be easily noted that Hannah’s dedication of Samuel provided God a man to lead the Israelites as both Judge and King. Or perhaps it was Abigail’s prevention of David’s bloodguilt which allowed him to later become King; however I believe that such an easy view might take away from the woman who plays not only a very central part, but is mentioned only once and then as a memorial: Rachel. On the heels of the moral decay which came to fruition by the almost complete destruction of the Tribe of Benjamin, a king was selected from that tribe. Not only was this true, but the prophet who anointed the King was himself a resident of the Tribe of Benjamin. Further, as a signal to the future king, he was told that he would find the proof of his impending royalty at the Tomb of Rachel. To further bring to light Rachel’s background role in the matter was the fact that she, the most beloved of Jacob’s wives, died while giving birth to Benjamin (Genesis 35.16-21). Later in (chronological, not necessarily literary) history, YHWH would speak to Jeremiah, saying,

This is what the LORD says: “A cry is heard in Ramah– deep anguish and bitter weeping. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted– for her children are gone.” (Jeremiah 31:15 NLT)

Ramah is not only the prophet’s dwelling place, but so too the scene of the anointing of King Saul after the people of the tribes at met, at Ramah, to ask Samuel for a King. It may be that Rachel is seen in the historical background of the writers of 1st Samuel while Jeremiah has the denial of the imago dei in mind which fulfilled YHWH’s oracle in 1st Samuel 8.10-18. It was at Ramah that Rachel’s children died to the sin of knowledge.


Or perhaps, akin to the Roman Dictatorships which would arise when times of troubles required it, and often times chosen by the two elected Consuls. Ironically, the story of the corruption of Samuel’s two sons preceding a time of trouble which required a King seems similar to the act which brought about the end of the Roman Republic.

Collins notes in his book, King and Messiah as Son of God, two current scholars which have produced work to counter the notion that kings were seen as the incarnations of the gods.

1) Silverman: “A pharaoh might be: named as a god in a monumental historical text, called the son of a deity in an epithet on a statue in a temple, hailed as the living image of god in a secular inscriptions, described as a fallible mortal in a historical or literary text, or referred to simply his personal name in a letter”;

2) Leprohon: “The evidence shows that the living pharaoh was not, as was once thought, divine in nature or a god incarnate on earth. Rather, we should think of him as a human recipient of a divine office. Any individual king was a transitory figure, while kingship was eternal”.

In responding to these conclusions, Dr. Michael Bird, writes, “But since “image of god” was used quite often to describe ANE kings, it means perhaps no more than humanity is royal in God’s eyes and is charged with the delegated divine function of ruling over creation.”

Source: Peter J. Leihart, November 2010.

For further reading, Peter Enns, a senior fellow at the Biologos Institute has written multipart piece which explores the Image of God in ANE literature and how it applies to the biblical understanding.

I believe that there may be more to the story between David and Abigail, but this is not the time to explore that arena. CF 1st Samuel 25.31 and v35 especially.

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Sirach 1.1-8 Wisdom’s Beginning

I have written several posts on Sirach, sections that I have found useful, interesting, and intriguing, and in doing so, I have come to a greater appreciation for the Inspiration of this book. Inspiration – the thought that the author penned it, but it was the Divine Author that actually wrote it. Surely, I am not the only one that has seen a measure of inspiration in the words of Sirach, as we know that the ancient Rabbi’s used it as well as many of the Church Fathers. It heavily influenced the Gospel writers as well as the later Christological debates.

Beginning with this post, I am going to repost my Sirach works, revising them along the way, and hopefully, starting up again where I left off.

Below you will see the addition of several alternate verses which are found in a different Greek recension of Sirach which was used by the KJV and RSV, and noted by the New English Translation of the Septuagint. I include these because they are highly valuable, and unfortunately, the level of Textual Criticism that is often applied to the rest of the Bible has not yet reached a sound scientific basis for many of the books of the Deuterocanon. I will discuss the alternate verse as a stand-alone verse in the passage.

This is not designed as the final word on Sirach, but to open up doorways for thinking by Fundamentals on Sirach, keeping in mind that these ancient writings are generally of better quality than most of what can be found in today’s Christian book stores.

Sirach 1:1-8

(1)  All Wisdom comes from the Lord and is with him for ever.

Ben Sira uses Wisdom not to encompass pure knowledge, but his view is clearly religious in nature, as would be natural for him. By itself, this verse is hardly impressive, however, by undertaking the rest of the passage first, we see that this Wisdom is an emanation from the Lord. (Wisdom 1.26, Hebrews 1.3).

(2)  Who can count the sand of the sea, the drops of rain, and the days of eternity?
(3)  Who can search them out the height of heaven, the breadth of the earth, the abyss, and wisdom?
(4)  Wisdom was created before all things, and prudent understanding from eternity.

The verse is a prologue to John’s Logos passage, when in the beginning was the Word. It also looks back to Proverbs 8, the basis of understanding the Jewish view of Wisdom.

“I, Wisdom, dwell with prudence, And find out knowledge and discretion. The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength. By me kings reign, And rulers decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, All the judges of the earth. I love those who love me, And those who seek me diligently will find me. Riches and honor are with me, Enduring riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold, And my revenue than choice silver. I traverse the way of righteousness, In the midst of the paths of justice, That I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth, That I may fill their treasuries. “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old.  (Proverbs 8:12-22 NKJV)

Sirach connects to the Logos of John and the Wisdom of Proverbs as well as the Emanation of Wisdom 7.26. The Divine is not without His Wisdom or His Word, and thus not alone; however, the Wisdom and Word are not seen as divine substances, but attributes and emanations. Wisdom is God Thinking whereas the Word is God Active.

And alternate verse here, which is highly Christological, reads

(4a) Wisdom’s spring is God’s word in the highest, and her journeys are everlasting commandments.

This verse is attested to in the Syriac as well as the Latin,

Fons sapientiae verbum Dei in excelsis, et ingressus illius mandata aeterna. – Nova Vulgata

The Logos is seen here as the spring of Sophia, the source. In ancient times, Wisdom is associated with the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God is seen as emanating from the Son. In John 14 and 16, we read of the spirit of Truth that will come from the Father as well as coming from the Son. This is God speaking His wisdom to dwell among flesh as the gift of the holy Spirit.

These images were important to the early Christian writers, as we cannot fail to be reminded that Paul called Christ the Wisdom of God. (cf Luke 7.35 and 1st Corinthians 1.24), that John used Wisdom language in describing the Logos, and that we can find loud echoes of both Sirach and Wisdom throughout the New Testament and its thought world.

(5) To whom has the root of wisdom been revealed? Who knows her great deeds?

Sophia, Wisdom, is a feminine noun in both Greek and Hebrew, and is only given masculinity in the New Testament when referring to Christ. (See above.)

(6)  There is One who is wise, greatly to be feared, sitting upon his throne.

This (6) verse is left out of some ancient MSS. Some speculate that it was removed by the Jews sometime after the Bar Kochba rebellion in 135. The Rabbi’s, seeking to save Judaism, began removing certain passages from the LXX (cf Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho) in hopes of reducing the Christology of the Old Testament.

(7)  The Lord himself created wisdom; he saw her and numbered her, he poured her out upon all his works.
(8)  She dwells in the midst of all flesh according to his gift, and he supplied her to those who love him.

Again, we hear the echoes of this passage in John’s Prologue in which the Logos is said to tabernacle in flesh (John 1.14 RSV).

And alternate verse here reads,

(8a) Loving the Lord is esteemed wisdom, but to whomever He appears, He apportions her as a vision of Himself.

Again we turn to Paul’s writing, when he calls Christ the Image of God.

NAU  2 Corinthians 4:4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

NLT  2 Corinthians 4:4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

And to John,

If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, `Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. (John 14:7-11 RSV)

It is not difficult to see then why these books were used to supplement the Christ event in the early Church. While in the synoptic gospels, Jesus is the Wise Sage, Wisdom personified, in John, Jesus becomes Wisdom, albeit in the masculine, and philoite Logos.

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Athanasius on Comparative Religions

So then, men having thus become brutalized, and demoniacal deceit thus clouding every place, and hiding the knowledge of the true God, what was God to do?

Continue reading “Athanasius on Comparative Religions”

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