The Preached Image of God: Christian Anthropology in Hiddenness and Speech

Morton, Adam T. (2022) The Preached Image of God: Christian Anthropology in Hiddenness and Speech. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This study reconsiders the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28) in light of its dual character as hidden in itself (both resistant to analysis in its biblical setting and inaccessible to experience) and revealed in divine speech. Common interpretations of the image fail to account for the biblical usage. The first chapter considers the background of image language in the Ancient Near Eastern use of cult images, and the circumstances under which a living human could be termed an image. This background suggests a human image as a material site of divine presence; however, that description does not resolve the biblical conception of the image of God, leading back to the problem of its unknowability. A return to the context of the image within God’s speaking of creation points to the image’s resolution.

Chapter two investigates the image in its transit through early Judaism into the New Testament’s Christological understanding, as an eschatological revelation of the Son in whom humanity is grounded and renewed. A consistent New Testament theology of the divine image is described, and further traced through Irenaeus, Origen, and Gregory of Nazianzus. The role of the Spirit is clarified in revealing the image in conformity to Christ and mediating it through human instrumentality (proclamation).

The third chapter turns to Luther and his articulation of the distinction between God as preached and not-preached, and its application to the imago Dei. Luther’s interpretation is traced chronologically, into its eventual articulation in the Genesis lectures and Disputation on Man. The preached Christ spells the end of the old human in opposition to God, and creates anew in God’s image. Present existence is the conflict between this preached humanity and the silence of the old creature passing away.

Chapter four expands on the discussion of Luther in order to illuminate the difference between a preached, eschatological view of the divine image and an interpretation based in analogical metaphysics, as represented by Erich Przywara. Both Przywara’s interpretation of the imago Dei and his reception of Luther are considered, revealing the role of different receptions of Pseudo-Dionysius in their approaches. What Przywara attempts to achieve by holding hiddenness and revelation in tension, Luther resolves concretely in a word of promise, analyzed in an account of Luther’s understanding of language. The fifth chapter takes up the preached image in contrast to an impulse in contemporary Protestant theology which posits an ontological chasm between God and humans, and so denies a human image of God. This approach is considered through Kathryn Tanner, David Kelsey, and Rowan Williams, and answered through Johann Georg Hamann, for whom the image of God, as the human, is at once bodily and communicated in speech. A short conclusion considers ethics, eschatology, and anthropocentrism as three areas in which this theology of the preached image of God may have particular contemporary resonance, considering human nature itself as received verbally in Christ.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Cunningham, Conor
Burdett, Michael
Keywords: image of God, Genesis 1:26, imago Dei
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 71083
Depositing User: Morton, Adam
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2023 14:46
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2023 14:46

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