Original Research - Special Collection: Theology and Nature

Imago mundi: Justice of peace

Annelien C. Rabie-Boshoff
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 2 | a7611 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i2.7611 | © 2022 Annelien C. Rabie-Boshoff | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 April 2022 | Published: 07 July 2022

About the author(s)

Annelien C. Rabie-Boshoff, Department of Systematic Theology, Faculty of Theology, Cape Town Baptist Seminary, Cape Town, South Africa; Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


The question of how human beings are to understand their role in creation is of particular interest in our current time of extreme exploitation of the earth and severe environmental degradation. Historically, critiques have been raised against the Judeo-Christian interpretation of the biblical command to subdue the earth and rule over the animals. In all sincerity, the question then needs to be asked what Christian theology has to offer in response to these critiques. Having considered the various interpretations of the meaning of the biblical command to subdue and rule, and with the understanding that the spiritual gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge and an ability to perform work have been bestowed by God on human beings, the proposition that this article offers is an alternative understanding of the role of human beings tendered in terms of ‘the justice of the peace’. The Hebrew understanding of peace (shalom) is used as a basis; shalom does not refer to an absence of war but points to life and maintaining the balance and harmony in creation for life in all its varied forms to prosper. In the context of the imago mundi, it is proposed that human beings have been divinely appointed to uphold justice in creation and rule by keeping the peace (shalom).

Contribution: The metaphor of ‘the justice of the peace’, used concomitantly with the verbs ‘subdue’ and ‘rule’ within ecotheology, offers a viable alternative to the idea of ‘stewardship’ of creation. This article focuses attention on possible alternative interpretations of the two verbs, contributing to an understanding of our relationship with creation.


imago mundi; dominion; stewardship; justice; shalom; balance; life; spiritual gifts


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