A Substantive (Soul) Model of the Imago Dei

A Rich Property View

Authored by: Joshua R. Farris

The Ashgate Research Companion to Theological Anthropology

Print publication date:  February  2015
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781472410931
eBook ISBN: 9781315613673
Adobe ISBN: 9781317041320


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Kathryn Tanner contributes a thoughtful Christological view of the “image of God” where humans become an image through participation in Christ (as the archetype where we are the ectype), which I call a Christ-participatory view. 1 As such, she offers a defensible, yet open to question Christological reading of the Creation narrative of the “image” (instead of humans imaging God or Trinity; Christ is the image). In this way, she posits a view that is strikingly in contrast with a view characteristically described as a substantive view, a natural “image,” and an intrinsic image. 2 My goal is to constructively compare and contrast Tanner’s imago view with a view that is more in line with “western” and Augustinian (used as a term of art) intuitions and is more in keeping with a plausible account of scripture. 3 Justification for this aligning with an Augustinian tradition finds support in Augustine’s referring to the soul (and all its features) as an “image” of God. 4 By interacting with Tanner, I hope to show that one can affirm a view in line with a substance view that is able to accommodate Tanner’s concerns and incorporate some of the insights from Tanner’s external Christ-participatory view. In order to do this, I suggest a more finely grained account of a substantive view is required with the use of intrinsic teleology. 5 In this chapter, I argue that both views satisfy contemporary theological desiderata for the “image” from creation, Christology, and teleology. However, I suggest that the substance view I advance is superior in its accounting for the Creational data from scripture, providing a stable ground for personal identity and the “image,” and providing a ground for making sense of teleological union with Christ.

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