Original Research

Image (of God) as ethical injunction: A social-scientific perspective

P. van Staden
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 51, No 2 | a1382 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v51i2.1382 | © 1995 P. van Staden | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 December 1995 | Published: 12 December 1995

About the author(s)

P. van Staden, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Taking cognizance of the fact that language - especially metaphorical language - can be expressive of deeplying cultural or religious symbol sets in man, the study explores the  possible original content of the syntagma εἰΚὼν ΤΟῦ θεΟῦ in both the Old and the New Testament. It is argued that there is a definite shift in the symbol set of which the concept (metaphor) 'image of God' is expressive. Whilst the Old Testament usage of the term probably attests to the conviction that humankind is part of the genus God and may even resemble him physically, the New Testament substitutes Jesus Christ for man as the primary carrier of the 'image of God'. Humankind in general does not reflect that image any more. It is only to be found in those who through faith in Jesus Christ regain the image of God. Our thesis is that the concept of 'image' is to be regarded as much an ethical injunction as it is an ontological state-ment. The faith of adherents to the community of believers finds expres-sion in distinctive behavior - that is, in conduct that clearly identifies them as reflecting the image of God.


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