1. Chinese Verse of the Day:
楊慎 (1488 - 1559)
2. Stephen R. Holmes of the University of St Andrews writes the entry 'Image of God' in the Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible (2005).
Since the rest of this blog post is meant to criticize this entry, I have to make an allowance in order to be fair to Stephen R. Holmes:
From the way the entry is written, I am not able to tell whether the entry is meant to express Stephen R. Holmes' personal opinion on this topic or is it meant just to summarize the current theological opinions.
It could be either or it could be both.
So let the criticisms fall where they may.
3. The entry 'Image of God' starts out promisingly by noting that although the doctrine of the Image of God appears to be a minor Biblical theme by verse count, yet its theological importance is entirely out of proportion to the number of verses in the Bible devoted specifically to it.
Then the entry goes really downhill with the following comment (Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, s.v. "Image of God"):
"The majority Christian tradition of reading the image in terms of rationality or some similar intellectual ability appears to owe more to Greek philosophical anthropology than any biblical or theological tradition. In any case, it has the unacceptable consequence of denying true humanity to those suffering from profound learning difficulties, and indeed from children, the unborn, and certain persons toward the end of their lives."
4. The first criticism is that the first sentence quoted is nonsensical.
The majority Christian tradition is itself a biblical and theological tradition.
To claim that the majority Christian tradition owes more to Greek philosophy than to "any biblical or theological tradition" is nonsense.
Besides Stephen R. Holmes, the editors of the Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible (2005) bear responsibility for not catching this simple nonsense.
5. The second criticism is that it is false that "the majority Christian tradition of reading the image in terms of rationality or some similar intellectual ability appears to owe more to Greek philosophical anthropology ...”
The only saving grace of this quotation is the qualifying word "appears".
Since Adolf von Harnack (1851 - 1930), theologians have been blaming many things on Greek philosophy for its allege intrusion into Biblical interpretations.
Stephen R. Holmes is continuing with this blame game.
Yet the majority Christian tradition has a very good reason for "reading the image in terms of rationality": the Bible says or implies so.
(Colossians 3:9,10 ESV): "Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator."
(Ephesian 4:24 ESV): "and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."
From these two Biblical passages, we know that the Image of God consists, at a minimum, of knowledge, true righteousness and holiness.
To know is to possess true belief.
The human faculty that thinks truth is the mind, intellect or reason.
Therefore, to renew "in knowledge after the image of its creator" implies "reason" or "rationality" is essential to the Image of God in which human beings are created.
"Rationality" is central in also that thinking, desiring and then acting on what is righteous and holy means that a human person must know beforehand what is truly righteous and holy so he can act on them, thus requiring prior "rationality".
I hope Stephen R. Holmes will stop playing this blame game with Greek philosophy and really look at what the Bible has to say.
6. The third criticism is that Stephen R. Holmes fallaciously draws the wrong conclusion when he writes: "in any case, it has the unacceptable consequence of denying true humanity to those suffering from profound learning difficulties, and indeed from children, the unborn, and certain persons toward the end of their lives."
There is no such "unacceptable consequence" for the reason that the Image of God is the "soul" or "spirit" of a person, not his "body".
"Knowledge", "righteousness" and "holiness" are primarily properties of the spirit or soul of a human person, and only secondly the properties of the human body when a human person exists as an embodied spirit.
God does not have a body yet God is omniscient, righteous and holy.
If the body malfunctions and a person suffers "profound learning difficulties", or if the body is developing or decaying for "children, the unborn, and certain persons toward the end of their lives", it does not follows that the person is less of a human.
The reason being a malfunctioning, developing or decaying body does not imply a person has a deformed spirit or soul.
The image of God is the spirit or soul of the human person, not his body.
Stephen R. Holmes even correctly notes that "recent historical-critical study claims that the image is a physical resemblance; clearly, from a theological perspectives, this is totally inadequate and indeed unacceptable." (Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, s.v. "Image of God".)
How can he turn around and claims there is an "unacceptable consequence" using what happens to the body as the basis of his claim?
The fallacy is Stephen R. Holmes', not the majority Christian tradition.
7. I am only half-way through the entry.
The rest of the entry is consisting of some speculative readings of some Biblical texts: about the Image of God being about "gender differentiation", "the irreducibly relational nature of human life", and the incarnate Jesus Christ being "the true pattern of humanity."
I like to speculate but since Stephen R. Holmes presents them as speculations, I will say no more about them here but look forward to him or some others developing the speculations more fully.
Clark, Gordon H. 1984. The Biblical Doctrine of Man. Jefferson, Maryland: The Trinity Foundation.
Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. 2005. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.
"楊慎", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,