Probably no other topic has engaged my interest as the imago Dei—what it means for humans to be made in God’s image.
My interest in the topic began as a personal exploration of my own identity and has blossomed over the years into a long-term research project. It turns out that there are more facets to the imago Dei than are dreamed of in our theology.
Besides my book The Liberating Image: The Imago Dei in Genesis 1 (Brazos, 2005), I’ve written over a dozen journal articles, book chapters, encyclopedia entries, and blog posts on various aspects of the subject. And I am deepening my understanding of the imago Dei all the time.
The Image of God in the Ancient Near East and in the Modern World
I was recently interviewed on the subject of the image of God by Deb Gregory for the Betwixt podcast series.
The interview I participated in, which is fifth in a series on “The Image of God and the Feminine Experience,” addresses whether the so-called “functional” interpretation of the imago Dei, which involves human “rule” or “dominion” over the earth (a view that I have argued for in my writings), excludes women—either explicitly or implicitly.
Deb Gregory starts the podcast with an excellent overview of the ancient Near Eastern background to the functional view of the image of God, then raises the question of whether this includes women.
The thirty-five minute interview starts at about the ten minute mark, and is followed by Deb’s brilliant five-minute meditation on implications of the discussion.
Near the end of the twentieth century, the Functional View of the image of God emerged with virtual consensus among Old Testament scholars. The discovery of ancient texts which used “image of God” language in reference to kings and cult images led scholars to recast the imago Dei in terms of how a king or priest functions as a royal representation of God.
The Functional View asserts that man was created to be God’s physical representation on earth and to function as his agent and vice-regent in exercising dominion. But what about women? Was Eve also made in the image of God or was she a derivation of the man from whom she was extracted? Did she also possess this royal dominion or was she created to submit under the authority of the man who acted alone as God’s royal representative?
In conversation with theologian J. Richard Middleton, Betwixt explores the Functional View along with questions it raises about dominion, power, gender, ecology, and politics.
The Betwixt Podcast Series on the “Image of God”
If you are interested, you can access all the podcasts on the “The Image of God and the Feminine Experience” on the Missio Alliance website.
Other Betwixt Podcasts (including interviews with Walter Brueggemann)
You can listen to other Betwixt podcasts here, including a couple of great conversations with Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann.
Here is the website explanation of what the Betwixt podcast tries to accomplish:
The Betwixt podcast is devoted to the betwixing space where faith and culture converge. This intersection, at once sacred and dangerous, sanctions the shedding of our past and the mantling of our becoming. Conversations with fascinating guests will coax us out of our ideological trenches with betwixting stories from the middle space.