Genesis and Ancient Near Eastern Stories of Creation and Flood: an Introduction Part 2 -- By: David T. Tsumura

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 09:2 (Spring 1996)
Article: Genesis and Ancient Near Eastern Stories of Creation and Flood: an Introduction Part 2
Author: David T. Tsumura


Genesis and Ancient Near Eastern Stories of Creation and Flood: an
Introduction
Part 2

David T. Tsumura

This is the second in a series of articles on the relationship between the early chapters of Genesis and creation and flood stories from ancient Mesopotamia. — Ed.

David T. Tsumura is Professor of Old Testament at Japan Bible Seminary, Tokyo. He is author of The Earth and the Waters in Genesis 1 and 2: A Linguistic Investigation (1989), as well as numerous articles on the Hebrew Bible and Semitic languages.

Man as the Image of God

Clines offers a thorough discussion of “The Image of God in Man,” reviewing the history of interpretation. He concludes that

Genesis 1:26 is to be translated “Let us make man as our image” or “to be in our image”. .. according to Genesis 1 man does not have the image of God, nor is he made in the image of God, but is himself the image of God (1968).

As for the image itself, Clines observes, with K.H. Bernhardt, that

in the ancient Near East the primary function of the image was to be the dwelling-place of spirit or fluid which derived from the being whose image it was (1968: 80–85).

He also notes that in the ancient Near East the king is “the image of God,” and

the image of the god is associated very closely with rulerhood. The king as image of the god is his representative. The king has been created by the god to be his image (1968: 80–85).

In her recent treatment of the specification of human sexual distinction, P.A. Bird, like Clines, asserts that the ṣelem ‘elōhim ‘image of God’ in Genesis 1 is “a royal designation, the precondition or requisite for rule” (1994:341) and concludes that

the genius of the formulation in Genesis 1:26 may be seen in its use of a common expression and image of Mesopotamian (Canaanite) royal theology to counter a common image of Mesopotamian (Canaanite) anthropology, viz., the image of humanity as servant of the gods (1994: 345).1

Bird suspects a polemical intention also in the blessing of v. 28, “Be fruitful and multiply.” For, since “the power of created life to replenish itself is a power given to each species...

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