Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Gender Aspects of Creation from a Theological, Christological, and Soteriological Perspective: An Exegetical Contribution

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Gender Aspects of Creation from a Theological, Christological, and Soteriological Perspective: An Exegetical Contribution

Article excerpt

(ProQuest Information and Learning: Foreign text ommited.)

My contribution focuses on a discussion of those biblical texts to which the ancient tradition of the church has constantly looked back in its statements about humanity in its differentiation as male and female. The main direction of this essay is concerned primarily with exegesis and the history of interpretation. My concern here is not with the history of interpretation and its effects in its totality, but to take note of and to work through certain often repeated lines of interpretation.

I will start by presenting how the genderedness of humanity comes to expression in the theology of creation. In the Christian tradition, Genesis 1-3 plays a central role here. I shall give a short and selective interpretation of the text, with reference to present-day exegesis, and contrast this with the early Christian exegesis tradition. I will put to these texts the question as to whether and how the concept of the image of God, so central in (later) Christian tradition, is to be brought into relationship with the distinctive maleness and femaleness of human beings, or in other words, gender as distinct from the humanity that women and men have in common. The question also arises as to the explicit significance of Jesus Christ in the eschatological or protological context of humanity's participation in the image of God.

Then I shall begin a restricted sketch of the question: To what extent did the distinctive maleness or femaleness play a role in the early church tradition in the defining of humanity as being in the image of God? This tradition assumes as a basic axiom that the image of God is constituted through participation in Jesus Christ, the authentic image of God in the protological creation event, and is reconstituted in an eschatological new creation or redemption event. Thus the Christological and soteriological dimension of the theme is outlined.

The mediator of the image of God to human beings took on human nature in his incarnation in the form of a man, or was almost exclusively spoken of in male metaphor. I am deeply interested in the question as to whether this fact brings with it the consequence that a woman, from the point of view of her being in the image of God, stands in some other relation to Christ than does a man. The answer may be of consequence for our general theme.

The gendered nature of human beings comes to expression fundamentally in the creation traditions as canonized by the church, preeminently in Genesis 1-3.1

I am in accord with a broad consensus of modern exegesis (since H. B. Witter in 1711) when I distinguish two distinct and only partially parallel creation accounts, each with its own history. These were brought together and placed in a linear narrative sequence in a process of historical convergence. When this assumption of two traditions is not made, this has-as the older history of interpretation demonstrates-particular consequences for interpretation.

Genesis 1 is attributed to the work of the "priestly writer" (P), and dated as a rule in the exilic and post-exilic era. It is a matter of debate as to whether it deals with an originally independent source document with partially analogous content to the other source documents ("Yahwist" and "Elohist"), or whether it is a redactional reworking of an older Pentateuch or Hexateuch. IMAGE FORMULA8IMAGE FORMULA9

Genesis 2f. is attributed to the more diverse or varied Yahwistic work (J) and today tends to be dated in the time of the later rather than the earlier monarchy.2 Genesis 1:1-2:4a attributes to God six days and eight works of creation. Within Genesis 1:24-31 the creation of human beings is of particular interest to us. It is characterized, through its narrative position and linguistic emphasis, as the high point of the divine work of creation, in particular in Genesis 1:26-28. …

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