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Short Story

Image of God and Divine Presence

An excerpt from Christa L. McKirland's article in "Discovering Biblical Equality."

Published on:
March 28, 2022
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17 min.
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I have a daughter and a son. Sometimes I dress my daughter in blue and my son in pink. Sometimes, my daughter plays with male superhero dolls, and when my infant son gets a bit older, I will give him some of those same dolls plus Wonder Woman and Rey from Star Wars. More importantly, as they grow up, my husband and I will teach both of them that they can pursue any vocation—president, pastor, police officer, or whatever.[1] We will teach them both to be responsible for their own spiritual lives. We will encourage them both to be leaders or followers depending on the situation. Are any of these actions or practices morally problematic? Some would say yes, especially if they hold to a certain understanding of sex and gender that collapses maleness and femaleness into prescriptive expressions of masculinity and femininity. By contrast, this chapter will suggest a Scriptural account of the significance of maleness and femaleness that rejects rigid characterizations of masculinity and femininity.[2]

When gender essentialism is operating, especially in a Christian context, the result is that being male morally requires acting in a masculine way and that being female morally requires acting in a feminine way.

In order to situate the significance of maleness and femaleness, this chapter will proceed in three parts: first, to propose a Christocentric theological anthropology based upon a particular understanding of the imago Dei[3], second, to articulate the logical flaws of gender essentialism which undermine this Christocentric interpretation, and third, to conclude with thoughts on the significance of maleness and femaleness in light of this Christocentricity and apart from a gender essentialist interpretation. Ultimately, I will urge readers to see that a Christologically-grounded conception of the imago Dei reveals the divine intention for men and women is the same: to be intimately united to God (through the indwelling Holy Spirit) as they become more like the true image, Jesus Christ. In light of this eschatological telos, they are also meant to have the ongoing human function of royal priests. Due to this inclusive priesthood, humanity’s glory-giving capacities are far less about following a prescribed,   created list and far more about following the exalted, uncreated Lord.[4] Therefore, this chapter seeks to elucidate the priorities of Scripture regarding humanity’s initial and eschatological purpose in order to more accurately situate the significance of maleness and femaleness.

Before moving into the three major sections of the chapter, a brief overview of gender essentialism and what is at stake is necessary.

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Overview of Gender Essentialism

In some influential strands of Christian theology, the deeply flawed concept of hierarchical gender essentialism has developed. Gender essentialism is here understood as “the belief that males and females are born with distinctively different natures, determined biologically rather than culturally. This involves an equation of gender and sex.”[5] In other words, men and women are essentially different on the basis of being a man or a woman.[6] By equating gender and sex, there are male persons who are meant to act like men (masculinity), and there are female persons who are meant to act like women (femininity). This would typically be discussed in terms of sex (biological givenness) and gender (cultural convention for how to express biological givenness).[7] Instead of recognizing that biological sex and gender expression can be separated, for gender essentialism, male or female “natures” determine the proper masculine or feminine role a person is supposed to perform. When gender essentialism is operating, especially in a Christian context, the result is that being male morally requires acting in a masculine way and that being female morally requires acting in a feminine way.[8] Specifically, men (because they are male) should act as leaders, initiators, and providers, while women (because they are female) should be followers, nurturers, and provided for—and to do anything less not only violates what it means to be male or female, but it violates the very will of God. Since sex and gender are conflated so are natures and roles.[9]

Wayne Grudem and John Piper explicitly connect roles and natures: “We are concerned not merely with the behavioral roles of men and women but also with the underlying natures of manhood and womanhood themselves.”[10] When asked if gender roles will persist in heaven, Piper responds, “I think that our personhood is so wrapped up in our gender, or you could say our gender is wrapped around our personhood, that if we were stripped of our maleness or femaleness, we would be unrecognizable.”[11] Consequently, instead of competency, maturity, and gifting determining roles, “deeper realities rooted in how we differ as men and women,” should be determinative for human function.[12] Since these roles are understood as fixed (essence-based), so are these functions, and for those in this school of thought, nothing less than God’s eternal glory is at stake, should these distinctions become blurred.

However, the stakes increase for those who see maleness and femaleness as central to the grand narrative of God’s redemption of humanity. The primary Scriptural rationale for this form of gender essentialism comes from Genesis 1–2 and Ephesians 5. The interpretation of the Genesis text equates the imago Dei (image of God) with maleness and femaleness.

Since the imago is used to ground the meaning of personhood, personhood is thereby understood as male or female. Maleness and femaleness become the two ways of being human, and thus the meaning of masculinity and femininity are then imported into the interpretation to make sense of this gendered imago Dei. Piper and Grudem claim, “[m]ale and female personhood, with some corresponding role distinctions, is rooted in God’s act of creation (Genesis 1 and 2) before the sinful distortions of the status quo were established (Genesis 3).”[13] Consequently, men and women are seen to have beneficial differences, though the woman is specifically a “complement to her husband and a necessary completing part of his being.”[14]

Beyond the importance of men and women’s complementary differences, maleness and femaleness are seen as creaturely indicators of a theological reality. Piper and Grudem are not alone in seeing the male-female distinction as symbolizing a greater cosmic reality and intention. Thinkers such as Karl Barth, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and John Paul II all maintain the equal dignity of man and woman while seeing their difference as critical to understanding the divine life and human purpose.[15] For all five of these men, the Ephesians text regarding Christ and the church is critical to their understanding of the significance of maleness and femaleness.[16] Piper makes this explicit:

[T]he ultimate meaning of true womanhood is this: it is a distinctive calling of God to display the glory of his Son in ways that would not be displayed if there were no womanhood. If there were only generic persons and not male and female, the glory of Christ would be diminished in the world. When God described the glorious work of his Son as the sacrifice of a husband for his bride, he was telling us why he made us male and female. He made us this way so that our maleness and femaleness would display more fully the glory of his Son in relation to his blood-bought bride.[17]

For Piper, there is male and a right way to be male (manhood/masculinity), and there is female and a right way to be female (womanhood/femininity).

Piper and Grudem’s language of male and female natures and personhood sufficiently demonstrate the centrality of maleness and femaleness for their understanding of what it means to be human. However, as this article will argue, the Scriptures do not make maleness and femaleness central to being human, nor can particular understandings of masculinity and femininity be rigidly prescribed since these are culturally conditioned. Scripture makes Jesus Christ central to what it means to be human and becoming more like Christ, through the empowerment of the Spirit, is the intended telos of all human persons.

A Christocentric Constitution of the Imago Dei

As we will see below, the opening chapters of Genesis are powerfully dignifying for establishing the value and intended function of men and women. However, these are just the beginning of the story. Creation and eschatology have always been bound together in the true image, Jesus Christ.[18] If we begin with Jesus for understanding what it means to be fully human, we find that the image of God is Jesus Christ, to whom all of humanity is meant to be conformed.[19] As the perfect king and priest, Jesus inaugurates a new priesthood, one open to all who participate in his life.[20] Consequently, the primary way of understanding what it means to be human is typified in the person of Jesus Christ, the one who embodies the divine presence and who gives humankind access to this presence. This does not negate embodied differences (whether sexual or otherwise) but subordinates these differences to the Spirit- given identity of being God’s royal priests.

All of these passages support the second Adam preceding the first in the mind and intentions of an all-knowing God. God has always intended humanity’s conformity into the image of Christ as this is the image of God.

Jesus Christ has always been “Plan A,” as the ultimate end for humanity and the New Testament affirms this pre-creational intent: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,” (Rom 8:29); “who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,” (2 Tim 1:9); “But we impart a secret  and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory” (1 Cor 2:7); “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you” (1 Pet 1:20). All of these passages support the second Adam preceding the first in the mind and intentions of an all-knowing God. God has always intended humanity’s conformity into the image of Christ as this is the image of God.

The identity of the image of God with Jesus runs consistently throughout the New Testament: “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4); “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col 1:15). In contrast to what we will see below, the prepositions that separate human beings from being equated with the image are not in place when referring to Jesus as the image. Thus, an understanding of Christ’s humanity is central to understanding human destiny. What we see in the Incarnation is the collision of heaven and earth through the life of the God-man. This perfect image-bearer had perfect connection with God and was the perfect reflection of God. Jesus is the perfect High Priest and the royal Son, whose whole ministry consisted of expanding the Kingdom of God into all the earth, an expansion into which we too are invited to participate.

At the same time, such an invitation would not have been entirely foreign to the first century Jewish audience. The Pentateuch was already known to have established the royal- priestly function of humankind, even if its fullness was not yet fully known until the entrance of Jesus Christ. To understand this backdrop, as well as the significance of maleness and femaleness for understanding the human vocation as originally articulated and as typified in Christ, we will now turn to Genesis 1–2.

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Maleness, Femaleness, Imago Dei, and Priesthood. 

While the opening chapters of Genesis do not provide the explicit content of the image of God, they do provide helpful minimums to exegetically frame the boundaries of this concept. [21] Specifically, these boundaries (which will be discussed in more detail below) indicate that: 1) humanity’s special status of being uniquely related to God is not contingent on a specific function or sexed embodiment; and 2) a primary consequence, though not the content, of being in the image of God for the human beings includes dominion. A third boundary can be drawn when looking at how the Garden is functioning in Israel’s cosmology, leading to 3) this dominion’s being bound to the male and female having a royal-priestly identity, which is inseparable from relation to and expansion of the divine presence. Therefore, the opening chapters of Genesis do not provide warrant for a gender essentialist reading but instead put emphasis on God’s relation to humanity as well as their shared purpose as creatures uniquely created in God’s image.

Boundary 1: Special Status. The Genesis texts do not state what the image of God is. Instead, they provide what the resultant function is intended to be for creatures who have this unique relationship with God. The way the Hebrew grammar works, “in our image” signifies in whose image humankind is to be created. Such consistency of these prepositions, glossed as “in,” “after,” and “according to,” likely communicate something of a derivative nature.[22] While derivative, the relationship of the human person to God remains unique, even while the precise content of the image remains underdetermined. Since Mary L. Conway’s chapter, “Gender in Creation and Fall: Genesis 1–3” in the present volume has already given a detailed treatment of the first boundary, the second and third will be the focus here.

Boundary 2: Special Function. The second minimal boundary for understanding the image- likeness concept is that a primary consequence, though not the content, of being in the image of God for both the male and the female includes dominion.[23] In other words, whether or not a person exercises dominion, they are made in God’s image. Whether or not they are male or female, they are made in God’s image. The status of being in God’s image does not rely on having a particular human body or exercising a particular function. Instead, an intentional consequence of this status is having dominion which sets the human creature apart as unique from the rest of creation. Grammatically, the interpretation of dominion as the consequence of being in the image of God is strong since the “cohortative followed by imperfect marks purpose or result” thereby producing the reading: “let us make humankind [adam]...so that they may rule.”[24] Notably, the charge of having dominion connects to the divine presence as will be seen in the third boundary articulated below. The kind of dominion the human beings are meant to exercise is not due to an intrinsic authority that they possess, but is a dignifying function granted to them by the Creator to exercise on the Creator’s behalf.

Like dominion, being sexually differentiated is not the content of being in the image of God either.[25] Furthermore, in contrast to the role of dominion, sexual difference may not even be understood as the consequence of being in the image since maleness and femaleness are held in common with other non-human creatures. The command to “be fruitful and multiply” is given to other creatures not explicitly made in God’s image (to birds and fish in Gen 1:22). Thus, while maleness and femaleness are significant, adjoining the content of the image with sexual differentiation presses the text too far. Instead, being male and female is the means by which humans might multiply via sexual reproduction, whereby more humans in God’s image might continue to fill the earth.[26] Maleness and femaleness are therefore not the content of the image since being in God’s image is a status unique to human creatures, and maleness and femaleness does not fit this criterion of uniqueness.

Gentry and Wellum make a compelling syntactical argument that supports the strength of dominion as a consequence of being in the image of God while also contrasting this with the textual significance of maleness and femaleness. Their argument comes from recognizing the chiasm within the text, “which emphasizes maleness and femaleness associated with being fruitful and multiplying whereas having dominion is directly correlated with the image itself.”[27] This structure is as follows:

     A: in the image of God he created him
     B: male and female he created them[28]
     B’: be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth
     A’: and subdue it and rule over the fish/birds/animals

Such a structure (note A and A’) supports the idea that having dominion is a consequence of being in the image of God. The declaration of intent “so that they may have dominion…” is then reinforced by the execution of this intention. In contrast, maleness and femaleness moves the author’s thought forward regarding how this population will increase.[29] This does not make sexed embodiment inconsequential, but it does position it as secondary (at best) to being made in the image of God and being tasked with dominion. All humankind is given the commission to have dominion over the rest of the creation. Additionally, dominion is closely associated with representation of God since the charge to rule is an extension of God’s rule and arguably the means by which God’s presence expands into all the earth.

So, it seems that being in the image of God is first a unique status of humanity whereby a unique function results: dominion. Both status and function link to the divine presence, reinforcing the special relationship that humanity has with the Creator God.[30] Such an interpretation finds further support as we move into the third boundary.

Boundary 3: Dominion and Divine Presence. The third boundary becomes clearer in light of biblical scholarship on Jewish cosmologies as well as the surrounding Ancient Near Eastern cultures. This boundary indicates that dominion is tied to the human beings having a royal- priestly function, which is inseparable from the divine presence. Given the overlap of sacred task with sacred space, the role of a priest becomes important here. A basic definition of a priest is “[a] person who enjoyed direct access into God’s presence. A priest had a two-way function, as a representative of others who offered sacrifices and prayers to God, and as a mediator of God’s will to those he represented.”[31] Since sin was not yet a part of the story the two-way function would not have been necessary in terms of representing humanity to God. However, the enjoyment of direct access to God’s presence seems to be exactly what the man and the woman experienced in the Garden, alongside representing God’s benevolent care for the created world. The reason this is understood as “priestly,” however, is due to receiving the creation stories after human sinfulness. Had sin not occurred in human history, it seems not only reasonable but highly probable that the word “priest” would have been meaningless since direct access to God would have been true for all people.[32]  Unfortunately, sin does enter the human story, but God’s intentions for humankind’s communion with Godself continues. Thus, while Eden features explicitly in only a few texts, this Garden echoes throughout the biblical witness, continually pointing the reader to the original intentions of the Creator. The purpose for this Edenic space was to provide a temple- context for God to dwell with humanity and the rest of the created world, as well as a space for humanity (and the rest of creation) to respond in worship to their Creator. Part of this worship included the expansion of God’s presence into the rest of the world as evidenced by the linguistic overlap of temple-specific language. For instance, the verb for “walking” (hâlak) that God is doing in the Garden is the same verb used for the presence of God walking in the tabernacle in Leviticus 26:12, Deuteronomy 23:14, and 2 Samuel 7:6–7.[33] Additionally, when turning to the second creation account in Genesis 2, humans are collectively given duties to curate this space for God’s manifest presence. The duties given in Genesis 2:15 are the same duties given to the Levites as ministers and priests in the sanctuary “to work” and “to keep/guard.” Genesis 2 is the only other place in the Pentateuch where these verbs appear together.[34] All of these points indicate that the Garden is where God could be directly with the man and the woman which can be understood retrospectively as entailing their priestly status.

However, some might argue that these functions only applied to the man since the woman was not yet created in this account of the creation sequence (Gen 2:15). Although the woman does not receive specific address (at least, not recorded in the text), this does not mean she is not included in this charge, especially given the creation account of Genesis 1, where she is explicitly included. Furthermore, following the line of reasoning that this priestly language is gender-exclusive, one would also have to conclude that the command not to eat from the tree of good and evil was only required of the man since the woman was not given this prohibition directly. This is expressly not the case given the woman’s culpability both in God’s direct address in Genesis 3 and in later interpretations of the Genesis story (1 Tim 2, 2 Cor 11). Also, given the argument that Eden was a sacred space, the woman should not have been allowed into the domain in which God walked unless she too had a priestly status. This may also be supported by Genesis 3:21, in which God makes garments of skin for the man and the woman, using the same vocabulary as the priestly donning of clothing (Exod 28:41; 29:8; 40:14; Lev 8:13).[35] However, whether or not the man or woman would have known or used language of “priesthood” does not detract from the most central points of this story. The woman and the man function as priests in that they have access to where God is personally present, are meant to be representatives of this presence, and the later covenants are established to provide continued access to this presence for humanity.[36] 

This brings us to a closer examination of the second creation account in Genesis 2. While Genesis 1 treats man and woman as a unified humanity and specifically uses language of male (zakhar) and female (neqevah), Genesis 2 treats each of their formations separately and uses language of man (’ish) and woman (’ishah), implicitly introducing “social categories.”[37] And yet, the second creation story focuses on the man and woman’s similarity, not their difference. Picking up in 2:18, the problem of the man’s aloneness is rectified in an odd, but intentional manner. It is as if God is walking the man through a teaching illustration in order to ensure that he understands the dignity of the human being he is about to create. God brings all of the animals before the man so that the man might identify them and see if they are a “fit” for him. However, after identifying (through the act of naming) all of them, he does not find one who is suitably his counterpart (vv. 19–20). Thus, God puts the man in a deep sleep, forms the woman, and wakes the man (vv. 21–22). Upon seeing her, he exclaims, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman (’ishah), because she was taken out of Man (’ish)” (v. 23). Linguistically, this is the most similar word he could call her. Thus, in light of the woman’s similarity to him the narrator concludes, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (v. 24). The narrator then closes this account with the comment “and the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (v. 25).

If Eden functions as a temple, and humanity is representing God by being in the imago Dei, then all of humanity is intimately bound to the divine presence. We were intended, from the beginning, to be royal priests mediating God’s presence in the world.

This final comment from verse 25 is significant. Implicitly, throughout the whole second narrative, the man is naked. Consequently, it would seem that he is looking for another creature who is both like him as a human and also sexually compatible with him. Indeed, this is what the earlier chapter set up in anticipation (1:26-28). Finding no other creature like him, God makes it clear to the man that this “woman” is like him.[38] Thus, the man and the woman are formed from one flesh, underscoring to the man the extent to which woman is his equal, and that they are meant to become one flesh again (2:24). This bond is unlike the bond of animals since the animals were not formed from one flesh. Consequently, the social bond of the man and the woman is meant to be lifelong while also forming a new kinship unit. The second account does not provide prescriptions for how females are supposed to be women, nor how males are meant to be men. We are thus left with a reiteration of the goodness of maleness and femaleness, a strong case for the similarity of man and woman, and the establishment of an intimate bond with one another set within the sacred space where they commune with the Living God.

Cast against this temple/sacred space backdrop, the Genesis story is therefore incredibly dignifying to the man and woman and the whole cosmos. This cosmic temple is not a stagnant locale but is intended to expand, through the stewardship of the male and female human beings who are in the image of God. Through their relationship to God, they are meant to see God’s presence increase throughout the entire earth.[39] By filling the earth, the reign of God was intended to spread throughout the created world as a vocational consequence of humanity being made in the image of God. This presence-expansion was their act of worship as archetypal rulers and priests. For instance, the prevailing religious practice of Ancient Near-Eastern cultures was to honor each god with a statue or image and place it in the innermost part of the temple.[40] While the human beings may not have been understood as identical to the presence of God (they are “in” and “according to” the image, not the image itself), they would have been closely associated with God’s presence due to their designation as being in the image of God and being charged with having dominion.

To summarize, Israel and the surrounding Ancient Near-Eastern cultures consistently related temple-building and images of god with that god’s divine presence in the world— often located in their temples. If Eden functions as a temple, and humanity is representing God by being in the imago Dei, then all of humanity is intimately bound to the divine presence. We were intended, from the beginning, to be royal priests mediating God’s presence in the world. The focus of the texts of Genesis 1 and 2 is on humanity’s unique relationship to God and their function on behalf of God. Genesis 2 goes out of the way to express the similarity of the woman to the man, which is the rationale behind a man leaving his family to become one with his wife. At the same time, while maleness and femaleness do feature in these creation accounts, masculinity and femininity do not. Instead, when male and female are discussed in detail, the point is to show the similarity of the man and the woman. What is central to this text is that God’s presence, and humanity (without any division of roles or natures) is meant to expand this presence into the world since they are made in God’s image. What we find when we look at the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and ongoing ministry of Jesus in the heavenly throne room is the epitome of that vocation’s realization. 

Christa L. McKirland
Christa L. McKirland (PhD, University of St. Andrews) is lecturer in systematic theology at Carey Baptist College in Auckland, New Zealand. She is the founder and executive director of Logia International, which seeks to support women across the divinity disciplines for the sake of the academy and the church.
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Adapted from "Image of God and Divine Presence" by Christa L. McKirland, in Discovering Biblical Equality (Third Edition), edited by Ronald W. Pierce and Cynthia Long Westfall, associate editor Christa L. McKirland. Third edition ©2021 by Ronald W. Pierce, Cynthia L. Westfall, and the Estate of Rebecca Merrill Groothuis. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60559. www.ivpress.com

Cover image by Markus Winkler.

[1] As this volume is an explicit response to Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and subsequent works since then, John Piper will be my main interlocuter, although the implications extend beyond his line of argument. I have specifically chosen these vocations because John Piper has claimed that these are inappropriate jobs for a woman to have. See John Piper, “Should Women Be Police Officers?” on The Desiring God website, https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/should-women-be-police-officers, accessed June 21, 2019; ‘Why a Woman Shouldn’t Run for Vice President, but Wise People May Still Vote for Her’, Desiring God, 2 November 2008, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/why-a-woman- shouldnt-run-for-vice-president-but-wise-people-may-still-vote-for-her, accessed June 22, 2019.

[2] Further, alongside the contributors to this volume, I recognize the Bible (Hebrew Bible and New Testament) to be the authoritative norm for my argument and will be focusing especially on Genesis 1–2 and briefly on Ephesians 5 due to space constraints.

[3] This will necessarily be brief for such a short chapter, however, a longer defense of this anthropology will be forthcoming in my future work with Baker Academic Press.

[4] For an example of a painstakingly detailed list of what women can and cannot do see, Wayne Grudem, “But what should women do in the church?,” CBMW News, Vol. 1 no. 2, November, 1995, 1–17.

[5] “Gender essentialism” in Oxford Reference, accessed June 22, 2019. https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095846595.

[6] There can also be strong and weak forms of gender essentialism. For instance, a weak form may be defined in terms of a set of propensities (e.g. the property of being strongly inclined to exhibit stereotypically masculine behavior) while allowing that actualizing these essential propensities is not required for flourishing as a man or as woman. The weaker the form, the less prone to the concerns listed below—although determining what is “masculine” or “feminine” still raises questions about the consistency of this view. It should be noted that egalitarians can also hold to gender essentialism as part of an effort to recognize the unique contributions and value that women bring to the church and home, however in its strong form especially, it too comes at a high cost. The focus of this chapter will be on critiquing strong forms of gender essentialism, especially those of a hierarchical sort. Strong hierarchical gender essentialism sees maleness and femaleness as fixed, and thus the hierarchical roles men and women are allowed to perform are also fixed. When “gender essentialism” is used, therefore, this is the specific version under critique.

[7] In most current academic discourse, sex is also understood as constructed and this chapter pushes against that understanding.

[8] For more specifics on the “morally defined sex roles,” see Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 310. “Psychological Foundations for Rearing Masculine Boys and Feminine Girls,” George Alan Rekers.

[9] The late Rebecca Merrill Groothuis addresses this conflation in “Equal in Being, Unequal in Role: Challenging the Logic of Woman’s Subordination” in the present volume.

[10] John Piper, Wayne Grudem, “50 Crucial Questions: Gender, Culture, and Hermeneutics,” CBMW, February 28, 2014, accessed April 23, 2019, https://cbmw.org/topics/book- reviews/50-crucial-questions-gender-culture-and-hermeneutics/.“One of the theses of this book is that the natural fitness of man and woman for each other in marriage is rooted in something more than anatomy.” RBMW, 78 (“An Overview of Central Concerns: Questions and Answers, John Piper and Wayne Grudem). Such thinking is consistent amongst other theological gender essentialists as well. Cf. Michelle A. Gonzalez, “Hans Urs von Balthazar and Contemporary Feminist Theology,” Theological Studies, 65 (2004), no.3, September 2004. RBMW, 21, Foreword, “For Single Men and Women (and the rest of us),” John Piper; “A Vision of Biblical Complementarity: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible” John Piper, RBMW.

[11]  Piper, “Biblical Womanhood in 5 minutes.” This also builds upon theologian, Emil Brunner’s thoughts that “Our sexuality penetrates to the deepest metaphysical ground of our personality. As a result, the physical differences between the man and the woman are a parable of psychical and spiritual differences of a more ultimate nature.” Man as Male and Female, 173.

[12] John Piper, “Do Men Owe Women a Special Kind of Care?,” Desiring God, November 6, 2017, Accessed, 23 April, 2019, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/do-men-owe-women-a- special-kind-of-care. Emphasis mine.

[13] John Piper, Wayne Grudem, “50 Crucial Questions: Gender, Culture, and Hermeneutics,” CBMW, February 28, 2014, accessed April 23, 2019, https://cbmw.org/topics/book- reviews/50-crucial-questions-gender-culture-and-hermeneutics/.

[14] Dorothy Patterson, RBMW, 374.

[15] Agneta Sutton, “The Complementarity and Symbolism of the Two Sexes: Karl Barth, Hans Urs von Balthasar and John Paul II,” New Blackfriars 87, no. 1010 (July 2006): 418–33. As Catholics, Balthasar and John Paul II recognize Mary to be the ideal expression of womanhood, whereas Barth and Piper do not appeal to Mary in this way.

[16] Sutton, “The Complementarity and Symbolism,” 427.

[17] John Piper, “The Ultimate Meaning of True Womanhood,” Desiring God, October 9, 2008, Accessed, 23 April, 2019, https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-ultimate-meaning-of- true-womanhood. Emphasis mine.

[18] Space constrains a full defense of this view, however, many theologians hold to this understanding. For an excellent overview, see Marc Cortez, Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective: Ancient and Contemporary Approaches to Theological Anthropology (Zondervan, 2016). For a brief treatment, see Christa L. McKirland, “What’s So Unique About Being Human?” Logos Questions Series, http://logos.wp.st- andrews.ac.uk/files/2019/04/Logos-Institute-booklet-6-web.pdf, accessed June 22, 2019.

[19] Colin E. Gunton, The Triune Creator: A Historical and Systematic Study (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), 196; Father, Son & Holy Spirit: Toward a Fully Trinitarian Theology (London: Continuum, 2003), 80–81; and The Christian Faith: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002), 14.

[20] See the late Stanley J. Grenz, “Biblical Priesthood and Women in Ministry” in the present volume.

[21] Given how much has been overread into these texts, especially on the meaning of the image of God, a minimalistic approach will be employed in this chapter.

[22] Macaskill, Union with Christ, 197.

[23] “Dominion” is closely associated with representation of God since the charge to rule is as an extension of God’s rule and arguably the means by which God’s presence expands into all the earth. In this sense, humans are vice-regents, faithfully extending God’s loving-care throughout the entire creation. Again, as this is a consequence of the unimpeachable status of being made in God’s image, regardless of whether people enact this divinely given vocation, they are still created in God’s image.

[24] Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum, Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 188. For support for this grammatical argument, see Paul Joüon, Grammaire de l'hébreu biblique (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1923), 116; Thomas O. Lambdin, Introduction to Biblical Hebrew (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971), 107; W. Randall Garr, In His Own Image and Likeness: Humanity, Divinity, and Monotheism, Culture and History of the Ancient Near East, v. 15 (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2003). Others who also distinguish between the constitution and consequence of the image include: Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics III/I, The Doctrine of Creation (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1958), 187; Gerhard von Rad, Genesis a Commentary, 2nd edition (London: SCM Press, 1963), 57; F. Horst, “Face to Face: The Biblical Doctrine of the Image of God”, Interpretation 4 (1950): 259–270; Francis Watson, Text and Truth: Redefining Biblical Theology (London, NY: T&T Clark, 1997), 293; N.W. Porteous, “Image of God” in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: E-J v. 2, Keith R. Crim, ed., (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1993), 684.

[25] McDowell, The Image of God, 18.

[26] J. Richard Middleton elaborates on the biological continuity of humans with animal kinds, saying “Not only, then, does the phrase male and female in 1:27 not define the content of the image in social-relational terms at all, but its role is anticipatory, looking ahead and preparing us for 1:28, where human beings (having been created biologically male and female in 1:27) are blessed with fertility and commissioned by God to reproduce, in order that they might fill the earth and subdue it.” Liberating Image, The: The Imago Dei in Genesis 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2005), 50.

[27] Gentry and Wellum, Kingdom and Covenant, 189.

[28] The singular direct object should not be read as delimiting the status of being in the image to an individual. The Hebrew grammar includes humankind in general, even though it is singular. Gordon J. Wenham, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 1: Genesis 1-15 (Waco, TX: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1987), 32–33.

[29] Middleton elaborates on this saying, “it is clear that the third line in three-line Hebrew poetic units typically do not repeat a previous idea, but more usually serves a progressive function, introducing a new thought. It is thus doubtful, on syntactical grounds, that ‘male and female’ specifies in any way the nature of the image.” Liberating Image, 49–50. He cites Robert Alter, The World of Biblical Literature (San Francisco: Basic Books, 1992) in support of this syntactical reading.

[30] L. Michael Morales, Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord?: A Biblical Theology of the Book of Leviticus (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2015), 46–47.

[31] “Priest.” In Macmillan Dictionary of the Bible, by Martin J. Selman, Martin H. Manser, and Stephen Travis. Collins, 2002. https://search-credoreference-com.ezproxy.st- andrews.ac.uk/content/entry/macdbib/priest/0? institutionId=2454, accessed April 16, 2019. According to Alexander, “[b]ecause they met God face to face in a holy place, we may assume that Adam and Eve had a holy or priestly status. Only priests were permitted to serve within a sanctuary or temple.” Alexander, From Paradise to Promised Land, 125.

[32] In the same way that “temple” would be meaningless since all space would be temple/sacred.

[33] For a lengthier treatment of the priestly function of the human pair, see T. Desmond Alexander, From Paradise to the Promised Land: An Introduction to the Pentateuch, 3rd edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012), 123; cf. Gentry and Wellum, Kingdom and Covenant, 212-213. Dumbrell concurs with Wenham’s verbal highlighting of cultivate/work, serve and guard with priestly service in the tabernacle (Num 3:7-8; 8:25-26; 18:5-6; 1 Chr 23:32; Ezek 44:14; see also Isa 56:6). William J. Dumbrell, Covenant and Creation: An Old Testament Covenant Theology, 2 edition (Paternoster, 2013), 59.

[34] Gentry and Wellum, Kingdom and Covenant, 212–213; Alexander, From Paradise to Promised Land, 123. Scott Hahn, “Canon, Cult and Covenant: The Promise of Liturgical Hermeneutics,” in Canon and Biblical Interpretation, eds. Craig Bartholomew, et al. (Zondervan Academic, 2010), 213.

[35] See Wenham, “Sanctuary Symbolism in the Garden of Eden Story,” in Cult and Cosmos: Tilting toward a Temple-Centered Theology, L. Michael Morales, ed., Biblical Tools and Studies, volume 18 (Leuven: Peeters, 2014), 163-164. Dumbrell, Covenant and Creation, 59. McDowell, The Image of God, 140–141.

[36] For more on Israel’s cosmology regarding temple, see T. Desmond Alexander, From Paradise to the Promised Land: An Introduction To The Pentateuch, 3rd Revised edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012); Gregory K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2004); Jon D. Levenson, “The Temple and the World,” The Journal of Religion 64, no. 3 (July 1984): 288; Middleton, A New Heaven and a New Earth; Wenham, “Sabbath, Temple and the Enthronement of the Lord”; Stephen Um, The Theme of Temple Christology in John’s Gospel (London; New York: Bloomsbury, 2006), 20–31; John H. Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One, First edition (Downers Grove, IL: IVP USA, 2009).

[37] Middleton, The Liberating Image, 50.

[38] For more on ʿēzer kěnegdô, a “help(er) corresponding to him” (v. 18, 20), see Mary L. Conway, “Gender in Creation and Fall: Genesis 1–3” in the present volume.

[39] Alexander, From Paradise to Promised Land, 25.

[41] Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission, 89.

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