Creation In The Image Of The Glory-Spirit -- By: Meredith G. Kline

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 39:2 (Spring 1977)
Article: Creation In The Image Of The Glory-Spirit
Author: Meredith G. Kline


Creation In The Image Of The Glory-Spirit

Meredith G. Kline

When defining the imago Dei dogmatic theology has traditionally tended to engage in an analysis of what constitutes humanness. But to answer the general question “What is man?” is not the same thing as answering the precise question “What is the image of God?” If our objective is to discern what the biblical idea of the image of God is, it would appear necessary to abandon the traditional dogmatic wineskins, go back to the beginning of Genesis, and start afresh.

The present article is primarily concerned to do some exegetical exploration, and then only in tentative outline to suggest the approach to the imago Dei concept that is indicated by our exegetical findings.1 It will be found that a key new element emerges in the exegetical picture: a theophanic presence of God at the creation—the specific divine model or referent for the creation of man as image of God, It is with this our study starts.

The Glory-Spirit at the Creation

After the declaration of the creation of things invisible and visible in the beginning (Gen. 1:1),2 the biblical record notes conditions in the visible world calling for divine action: the “earth” was in a state of unbounded deep-and-darkness (Gen. 1:2a). Then the presence of the Creator who would make light shine in the darkness and set bounds to the waters is affirmed in

the remarkable statement: “The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2b).

The verb used in verse 2b (méraḥepeṭ) occurs again in the Pentateuch3 only in Deuteronomy 32:11. There, by the use of this verb, the divine activity in leading Israel through “the waste howling wilderness” (v. 10) on the way to Canaan is likened to that of an eagle hovering protectively over its young, spreading out its wings to support them, and so guiding them on to maturity. In Exodus 19:4 God similarly describes himself as bearing Israel on eagles’ wings.

It was in fact by means of his Glory-Presence that God thus led his people at the time of the exodus. It was in the pillar of cloud and fire that he went before them in the way and aff...

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