Patricia Hofer

How we are “the image and likeness” of God

“The Genesis of it all” … this first chapter of Genesis also established two essential qualities of human beings. First, we humans “image” or resemble the Creator in some way. As Origen wrote, “For no figment of the body contains the image of God, …but the one who was made ‘in the image of God’ is our internal human, invisible and incorporeal and incorrupt and immortal” (54-55). The individuality that images God is our inner spirit—the internal human instead of the external one….  In the second creation account in Genesis…the inspired writer of this narrative introduces the Hebrew word ruah, a word that is used throughout the Old Testament. This very important Hebrew word is translated in four basic ways—as wind, as breath, as mind, as spirit.  … In a “special creative act of God,” in this inbreathing of the divine spirit, each human being is endowed with a “living soul,” with an “inner being” that reflects or images God. At its highest meaning, the Hebrew ruah denotes “the entire immaterial consciousness of man” (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament 836). Because of God’s inspiring ruah, human consciousness can recall the past and imagine the future. We can evaluate the goodness and the badness of things. And, most importantly, this “immaterial consciousness” makes it possible for us to meet and to know our Creator, God.

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