The Liberating Image
For two thousand years, Christians have been intrigued by the somewhat enigmatic Imago Dei references in the book of Genesis. Much theological ink has been spilled mulling over the significance and meaning of these words: "Let us make humanity in...
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For two thousand years, Christians have been intrigued by the somewhat enigmatic Imago Dei references in the book of Genesis. Much theological ink has been spilled mulling over the significance and meaning of these words: "Let us make humanity in our image, according to our likeness . . ." In The Liberating Image, J. Richard Middleton takes on anew the challenge of interpreting the Imago Dei. Reflecting on the potential of the Imago Dei texts for developing an ethics of power rooted in compassion, he relates its significance to the Christian community's distinct calling in an increasingly violent world. The Liberating Image introduces a relevant, scholarly take on an important Christian doctrine. It will appeal to all Christians seeking to better understand what it means to be made in God's image.
"In an image-saturated culture that ''brands'' personal identity in terms of consumer choices while rendering the planet an ecological wasteland, can the ancient biblical notion of humans created in the ''image of God'' be good news? In a world of violence in which a ''war on terrorism'' is given near-mythological legitimation by means of an us/them ideology that dismisses the ''enemy'' as the forces of chaos opposed to the civilizational order of democratic capitalism, does the biblical view of creation offer a counter-ideological alternative? Richard Middleton thinks so. In this wonderfully rich book Middleton deeply respects the text as he attends to its rhetorical, historical, and cultural meaning in such a way that we might hear it speak to us anew. Here is ''theological'' interpretation at its very best--an exhaustive and lucid study that will not only change how we think about the imago Dei but perhaps change how we engage in biblical scholarship."--Brian J. Walsh, University of Toronto"Middleton exhibits a powerful capacity for big issues, a patience with detail, and a sure theological sensibility. His study ranges all the way from comparative historical analysis to contemporary issues of ideology critique. The result is a study of a crucial biblical-theological phrase that is sure to become a benchmark in exegetical-hermeneutical work. Middleton''s unwavering theological focus keeps the detail in the service of big issues, and culminates with a wondrous affirmation of a generous God. Such a God stands over against ancient modes of parsimonious violence and, by implication, over against contemporary practitioners of the same parsimonious violence. A most important read!"--Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary"I have long thought that the description of humanity as made in God''s image (along with the rest of Genesis 1-3) has been the subject of so much comment over the centuries that we could never get behind all that interpretation to its inherent meaning. Richard Middleton''s fascinating book has made me think again."--John Goldingay, Fuller Theological Seminary"Up-to-date interpretations of the Imago Dei have long been needed. Richard Middleton has accomplished this considerable feat with great learning and sophistication, both by gathering the issues so clearly and accessibly and by providing an important advance in thinking about this theme. He has presented an expert historical and literary analysis, ranging widely across extrabiblical and biblical literature. Even more, Middleton has drawn out significant theological dimensions of the text and demonstrated the ethical implications of his analysis--with a lively engagement of contemporary concerns. Readers will encounter here fresh ways of considering both God and the human beings created in the image of that God."--Terry Fretheim, Luther Seminary"The Liberating Image is a balanced yet challenging articulation of the Imago Dei in Genesis, its ancient Near Eastern context, and its present-day theological implications. By locating himself in his postmodern context, Middleton brings a refreshing hermeneutical self-consciousness to the scholarly task, which is aimed at providing a substantive and compelling argument without posing as the last word. His analysis of Imago Dei in Genesis in the context of ancient Near Eastern religions leads Middleton to the conclusion that the Israelite theological traditions of Genesis 1-11 are recontextualized in conscious opposition to ideological categories of Mesopotamia. That Israel''s story promotes the dignity of all humans, not just of the royal or priestly classes, should have vital ethical implications for today."--Peter Enns, Westminster Theological Seminary "Richard Middleton has written a comprehensive and deep interpretation of the Imago Dei in the light of its immediate scriptural context as well as in relation to ancient Near Eastern understandings of the image of God and of the human. The value of this work, however, go
J. Richard Middleton (Ph.D. from the Free University of Amsterdam) is associate professor of biblical studies at Roberts Wesleyan College and associate professor of Bible and culture at Northeastern Seminary, both in Rochester, New York. Middleton is the coauthor of Truth Is Stranger Than It Used to Be and The Transforming Vision, and the author of Liberating Image: The'The Imago Dei' in Genesis 1 and 1 & 2 Samuel (Abingdon Old Testament Commentary).-Editorial Review.