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God Formed the Human: Humanity As and In Creation GOD AND CREATION © 2011 David W. Opderbeck Licensed Under Creative Commons Attribution / Share-Alike.

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Presentation on theme: "God Formed the Human: Humanity As and In Creation GOD AND CREATION © 2011 David W. Opderbeck Licensed Under Creative Commons Attribution / Share-Alike."— Presentation transcript:

1 God Formed the Human: Humanity As and In Creation GOD AND CREATION © 2011 David W. Opderbeck Licensed Under Creative Commons Attribution / Share-Alike

2 HUMANS AS CREATED BEINGS Gen. 1:26-28: Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

3 HUMANS AS CREATED BEINGS Gen. 2:5-7: Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (NASB)

4 HUMANS AS CREATED BEINGS What does it mean that God “created” and “formed” us? We are not God Our existence depends on God Our purpose and ground of being derive from God’s creative will – not from cosmic cycles of divine violence Each of us is of equally great intrinsic worth We are not products of mere random chance We are not products of mere necessity

5 HUMANS AS CREATED BEINGS Gen. 1:26-28: Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

6 HUMANS AS CREATED BEINGS What is does it mean that we are created in God’s “image” and “likeness”? No single uniform understanding in Christian theology Recall that the Triune God is transcendent ; that He is relational ; that He exercises will ; and that He is creative Human beings are in some sense “other” than the rest of the material creation Human beings are capable of a unique sort of relationship with each other and with God Human beings are capable of genuine agency Human beings are capable of creating culture – of causing “new” cultural goods to exist

7 HUMANS AS CREATED BEINGS Gen. 1:26-28: Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

8 HUMANS AS CREATED BEINGS What is the meaning of the “mandate” in Gen. 1? Even prior to sin, we were created for productive work Even prior to sin, we were not created in a state of static completion: our task was to “subdue” the Earth We are uniquely appointed as God’s representatives in the material creation – God’s “vice-regents” We are to create cultures and families We are to care for God’s creation

9 HUMANS AS CREATED BEINGS Gen. 2:7; 23-25: Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being….. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

10 HUMANS AS CREATED BEINGS What do these pericopes tell us about ourselves? We are material beings connected to the rest of creation We are inherently limited and temporal beings: of “dust” We are more than only material beings: we are integrated, soulish-embodied beings

11 HUMANS AS CREATED BEINGS What do these pericopes tell us about ourselves? Our embodiment is good Our bodies are not shameful We are sexual beings and sexuality is good Sexuality is linked in the created order to a covenant relationship between a man and a woman, the establishing of new families, and the cultural mandate

12 EXCURSUS: BIBLE GENRES: WHAT DOES SCRIPTURE SAY ABOUT “HOW” OR “WHEN” HUMANS WERE CREATED? What are the genres of Gen. 1 and 2? A textual comparison: Psalm 139:13-15: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

13 EXCURSUS: BIBLE GENRES: WHAT DOES SCRIPTURE SAY ABOUT “HOW” OR “WHEN” HUMANS WERE CREATED?

14 What are the genres of Gen. 1 and 2? Some textual clues: Gen. 1: heavenly bodies, plants and animals created first, then humans; male and female created together Gen. 2:4-25 humans created first, then plants and animals; no reference to creation of heavenly bodies; female created from male’s rib after creation of animals

15 EXCURSUS: BIBLE GENRES What are the genres of Gen. 1 and 2? A conclusion: It is possible to read these texts as referring to the material stuff – the “how” – of creation But a better and more faithful reading may be that these texts are not like scientific accounts of material origins.

16 A HYMN TO GOD FOR HUMAN UNIQUENESS Psalm 8 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

17 A HYMN TO GOD FOR HUMAN LIMITATIONS Psalm 103 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.

18 PHOTO CREDITS All photos Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike Hubble Space Telescope


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