The Body as Image of God: A Brief Review

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female He created them”.[1]  The Holy Bible tells us this, however what does this mean? In an article entitled, The Body of the Image of God in Rabbinic Literate, author Alon Gottstein attempts to answer this question. People are a unique species. There is no other species similar to humans on this planet. So, if we are created in God’s image are we not then God’s relative? While most people tend to interpret this passage literally, Gottstein takes sees this passage on a spiritual level.

In his article Gottstein attempts to, “explain the nature of the divine body as expressed in the rabbinic literature”.[2] Recognizing that we are created in God’s image, the passage stimulates the mind, perception and interpretation of God. Taken literally it can be assumed that God has a body. He is a tangible being. He has limbs, appendages, and function as a person. Yet, when studying the word of the Bible, God simply is. They say that, in the beginning was the word and the word was God and the word was with God, so how can God create man in his image? Gottstein’s article recognizes this and uses this concept in spiritual context. He notes that, “God’s body is seen as identical or similar to the human body”.[3]  It can be seen in nature. Humans are the only species to walk and stand upright, produce tears when emotional, and blush when embarrassed. Despite this, God is divine. He is the creator, the beginning, and the end. Man cannot truly be made in God’s image. Presumably God does not eat, breathe, or sleep. Taking the passage literally humans cannot be made in his identical image. As a result, “from the nature of the image much can be learned about the divine form”.[4]

Gottstein states that, “western tradition has mostly identified the image of God with the soul or with a human’s intellectual capabilities”.[5] This statement has truth. In Genesis 1:26 the Bible says, “let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion” over the sea, the air, the earth, and all creeping things. We see this today. Today man can fly like a bird, explore the depths of the ocean, and control the land. When recognizing this we understand humans were not created only in his physical image. Humans were created in His intellectual image. This includes His image of power, authority, and control over aspects of the natural environment. This psychological image explains human knowledge and intellect unmatched by other species on earth. Being made in His image, man is given reign and power over the earth much like God has reign and power over creation, intervention, and destruction.

Gottstein asserts that image is more than physical but spiritual. Thus, the image of God is reflected in the human soul. “The divine self must be nonmaterial, and therefore only the soul may be said to be the image of God”.[6] The soul can be seen as human life form. Without the soul the body ceases to live. A man without a soul is a zombie or dead man. In many ways, the human soul has power that can also be observed in the power of God. Not only does it carry the power of life but also power over spiritual matters. “Through this divine image, humans even now can be protected from the demonic influence”.[7] The New Testament tells us man has the power to caste away demons. This power was given to us from God and further indicates that man is made in His image, not just physically but spiritually.  God’s image protects us from evil and keeps us from harm. Through His image humans can use their spiritual nature to connect with God. We are able to communicate spiritually with Him through prayer. This allows people to connect with God on a level beyond the physical reality. From this perspective, “the image has various components”.[8] Therefore, we are made in God’s image both physically and spiritually. The physical image of God is uncontested through Jesus, who is both the physical and spiritual representation of God. This is told from the Bible that, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son”. Jesus was a man created from God’s seed. The birth and life of Jesus is a testimony of God’s image, which is spiritual, physical, and psychological.

God created the world and created us. He made man and woman in his image, through his image we are able to love, have knowledge, and rule the earth. Through His image we have power over the earth and all its living things including things beyond our realm such as demons. From God’s image man is made. As a result, we “are complete in him which is the head of all principality and power”.[9]

 

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Alon Goshen Gottstein, “The Body as Image of God in Rabbinic Literature,” The Harvard Theological Review 87,2 (1994): 171-195 Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/1510120.pdf?acceptTC=true

[1][1] The Holy Bible, Genesis 1:27

[2] Alon Goshen Gottstein, “The Body as Image of God in Rabbinic Literautre,” The Harard Theological Review 87,2 (1994): 171-195

[3] Gottstein, 1994

[4] Gottstein, 1994

[5] Gottstein, 1994

[6] Gottstein, 1994

[7] Gottstein, 1994

[8] Gottstein, 1994

[9] The Holy Bible, Colossians 3:10

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About Russia Robinson

I am an independent freelance writer and free thinker. I strive to use my writing talents to benefit the greater good of society, one word, one sentence, one page at a time. Originally from Richmond, California I attended San Francisco State University receiving a BA in English Creative Writing and American Literature in 2004. After this I attended post graduate studies in 2008 at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University in Technical Writing. With an academic background in English, I have spent more than 10 years’ helping young people succeed. This can be seen in my career background in education and mental health. I am a certifiable Language Arts teacher for the state of Georgia. I also worked in social services including juvenile mental health treatment services and counseling. As a result, I understand the diversity of problems people face in their everyday lives. With words put together like so, I promote equality and a healthy society for all people regardless of individual differences. Conducting research, writing articles, essays, and blogging, I push to educate others about various issues that affect people. I also do this creatively through short stories, poems, pictures, and a novel in progress. My hobbies and interest are reading and learning. I enjoy all things art and all things nature. From camping and astronomy to photography and cooking, I enjoy sighting seeing and socializing just as much as I enjoy curling in bed with a good book or binge watching TV.
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