Six Assumptions About The Meaning of the “Imago Dei”

CWoznicki Think Out Loud

Although there is deep disagreement concerning what being made in the image of God means, most theologians share a common set of assumptions regarding the doctrine. Let me share a few – specifically six – of those assumptions with you.

  1. Most theologians agree that the terms in Genesis 1, selem and demut, connote reflection and representation in some sense.
  2. They agree that selem and demut, that is, “image” and “likeness” do not mean two different things. That “image” and “likeness” meant two different things was a common assumption of Patristic and medieval reflection on the doctrine. The view that these words meant two completely different things is rejected by John Calvin and by modern exegetes.
  3. Theologians agree that understanding the ancient near eastern context in which Genesis was written is significant for understanding the terms.
  4. Theologians recognize that imaging necessarily requires embodiment. There is no space in the…

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